Toppan Printing Enters into New Photomask Process Development Agreement with IBM
Toppan Printing Co., Ltd. today announced that it has entered into a new development agreement with IBM that covers the last phase of 32nm photomask process development, and all phases of 22nm photomask process development. This joint development will take place at IBM's Burlington photomask facility in Essex Junction, VT., starting in June 2008.
Photomasks are used to transfer semiconductor chip circuits onto a silicon wafer, and this photolithography process is a critical first step in semiconductor production. Semiconductors have become increasingly sophisticated due to growing demand for telecommunications devices and highly complex and multifunctional digital consumer electronic products. Therefore, it is vital that semiconductor and photomask manufacturers work closely together to develop the advanced lithography technologies that will be needed to produce future-generation semiconductor chips. In order to keep pace with this changing technological environment, Toppan Printing and IBM started joint development of photomasks for 45nm semiconductors in 2005, and expanded the scope of their activities to include 32nm development in 2007.
Toppan Printing has developed a 32nm photomask process at its facility in Asaka, Japan. As part of the activities under the new development agreement, Toppan Printing will work with IBM to integrate the Toppan Printing process into the 32nm photomask process that Toppan Printing and IBM will jointly develop, thus potentially optimizing the performance of the jointly developed process.
As for the 22nm semiconductor generation, the industry is considering implementation of many new technologies such as EUV lithography and nano-imprint, but many technical issues remain outstanding. So IBM has determined to pursue with Toppan Printing the joint development of a 22nm photomask process by technical innovation of ArF immersion lithography, the current mainstream technology for the manufacture of 32nm photomasks.
IBM is known as an innovative semiconductor manufacturer always leading the industry in semiconductor process technology, material development and implementation. The photomask joint development efforts of Toppan Printing and IBM have aided the wafer process development conducted by IBM and certain of its wafer process development collaborators in East Fishkill, NY. Specifically, Toppan Printing and IBM have manufactured and provided 45nm and 32nm photomasks in support of 45nm and 32nm wafer process development activities, and expect as well to manufacture and provide 22nm photomasks in support of 22nm wafer process development activities.
"This newest process development agreement with Toppan Printing builds upon the success that our two companies have enjoyed while working together over the past several years. This newest agreement will help ensure we can continue to deliver innovative chip applications for IBM systems and our OEM semiconductor clients," said Michael Cadigan, General Manager, IBM Semiconductor Solutions. "This collaborative effort builds upon our joint progress at 45nm and 32nm and sets us on a path to deliver the photomasks needed for next-generation chip manufacturing production. IBM is very proud of its relationship with Toppan Printing."
"It is a great pleasure for us to enter into a new joint development agreement with IBM, the world's most advanced semiconductor processing company, to the coming generation of 22nm," said Naoki Adachi, president of Toppan Printing. "During the past three years of joint work, we have been nurturing a strong collaboration as well as a highly sophisticated technical development capability. We believe this joint initiative will place IBM and Toppan Printing at the forefront of advanced photomask technology development, and thus will enable us to contribute to the technological innovation in the world's semiconductor industry. Toppan Printing is the only photomask manufacturer in the world with the capability of providing high-quality photomask products in a timely manner in the U.S., Europe, Japan and other Asian countries. This joint development in cooperation with IBM will help Toppan Printing become the world's premier photomask manufacturer at 22nm as well."