Among the numerous news and events in the busy month of September, there is one we would like to put a bit more light on, showing how dynamic is our industry and how, sometimes, can success stories happen in a short timeframe.
On the 27th of September Plasma-Therm will officially open a new site in Bernin, France, in the middle of the worldwide known Grenoble pole for innovation in microelectronics and surrounded by major players in the industry such as STMicroelectronics and Soitec.
This new site follows recent acquisition from American leader Plasma-Therm of two French equipment companies, CORIAL and KOBUS, and will have several operations activities:
- European head office of Plasma-Therm
- R&D and production for CORIAL deposition and etching tools
- R&D for plasma dicing activities in Advanced Packaging
- Innovation center for ALD/FAST and CVD solutions
This opening is illustrative of different important points for the semiconductor manufacturing industry and especially in non-mainstream areas such as compound semiconductors and advanced packaging.
First of all, it shows the good health of semiconductors market in general and the growth of More-than-Moore approaches: compound semiconductors fueled by automotive, LED and RF markets. For instance, we estimate at Yole that the growth of GaN based devices in power applications will grow up to $461M in 2022 with a CAGR of 91% from 2019 to 2022! (1) , advanced packaging thanks to understanding of the industry that value comes more and more from the package and not only the IC (2018-2023 CAGR of 7.5%- (2)) , etc…
This good health has a positive consequence: it requires innovation to remain sustainable and therefore numerous start-ups and small-size companies are trying to penetrate these markets with disruptive solutions. KOBUS for instance developed for several years an innovative deposition solution, called FAST, willing to benefit from their know-how in ALD and CVD to get the best from the processes: ALD conformality at CVD speed. This could be of high interest for demanding markets such as 3D TSV users.
Larger scale companies understand more and more the potential of these innovators, even though they are not always on their radars because of focus on niches areas or limited by their size: They are a pool for progress and portfolio enlargement. Consequently some companies are now making more efforts to create partnerships and acquisitions and to strengthen those locally rather than agglomerate it in their headquarters, to benefit from this innovation environment from which they appeared.
That occurred regularly in the last 5 years in different fields and at different scales: Amkor purchasing Nanium for its wafer-level-package capabilities and its links with Europe, Apple buying Primesens for their 3D sensing know-how and their implantation in Israeli start-up pole, etc… and it is exactly what happened in the example of this week, where Plasma-Therm made fast decisions to get closer to CORIAL and KOBUS and chose to support their growth both at the local level and the opening of this European site few months after acquisitions, and at global scale, thanks to the important worldwide strong presence of the mother company.
This analysis is actually described by the protagonists themselves: “This opening demonstrates our commitment to the European market and represent a step forward in our vision of enabling a Technology Center of Excellence in the Grenoble ecosystem” Mr. Lazerand, Business Unit Director of the future site said.
And this is confirmed by his new partner, former CEO of KOBUS now part of Plasma-Therm, Julien Vitiello: “Plasma-Therm was the perfect partner to widespread our disruptive technology in the semiconductor niche markets throughout the LED, RF and MEMS players, while ensuring to our future customers production standard equipment and worldwide support” Vitiello said
A nice event for these companies and for the industry in general, and we bet more will happen in the future.
About the author:
Jérôme Azemar, Technical Project Development Director, Yole Développement part of Yole Group of Companies – As Technical Project Development Director at Yole Développement (Yole), Jérôme Azémar is supporting the development of strategic projects, following leading customers of the company within the semiconductor industry, from manufacturing to packaging. His mission is to develop Yole’s business and technical knowledge in the industry, maintain long term relationships with its accounts and meet their expectations.
(1) Power GaN report, Yole Développement, 2017
(2) Status of Advanced Packaging report, Yole Développement, 2018
Image: Courtesy of Plasma-Therm