Friday, December 28, 2007

No rest for the wicked

On December 25, the Thin Film Manufacturing mail server bounced 544 spam messages.

Which in addition to allowing me to observe that these people truly have no life, encourages me to remind legitimate correspondents to check their maillogs. The filters are sometimes overly aggressive. I can usually fix the problem, but only if I know about it. I'm unlikely to spot your mail in the bounce log.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

All I want for Christmas is a new clean company

The long-awaited consolidation in the wafer cleaning space seems to be actually happening. Lam Research plans to acquire SEZ Group, bringing a portfolio of pre-clean, etch, strip, and post-clean products under one roof. After the all-cash transaction closes, Lam will end up with all the assets of SEZ Group, including the Villach, Austria headquarters and facilities.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Feed the hungry, kill an afternoon

Best procrastination site ever. You've seen those "click here to donate a cup of food" sites? Here's a better version. Take an online vocabulary quiz. For each correct answer, the sponsors donate 20 grains of rice. Right answers get you harder questions, wrong answers get easier ones. The top levels will challenge just about anyone, hence the afternoon killing potential.

(For the skeptics, even tiny amounts add up. There are 29,000 grains of rice in a pound. Donations to date add up to shiploads.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Here comes another lawsuit

Apparently the "Here Comes Another Bubble" video annoyed a copyright owner, and YouTube has taken it down. It can also be found here and here.

The EFF has a detailed discussion on fair use in user-generated videos such as this one. Legally, creators of parodies and other critical works are on pretty solid legal ground: these works are protected speech, not actionable infringement. The problem is that the DMCA forces hosting services to pull material and investigate later in order to protect themselves, often without adequate explanation to the user. A more transparent process is desperately needed.

P.S. Thanks to Keely for alerting me to the broken link.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Those who can't remember history

Internet bubble? That's so last century. Or not. (Video link.)

Update: Apparently someone complained to YouTube about copyright infringement by the above video. It can also be seen here and here.

How long is a process generation?

A little over four-and-a-half years. TSMC announced the shipment of the company's one-millionth 90-nanometer process 300-mm wafer, which took place 53 months after process launch.

Obviously process generations overlap. The 90-nm generation was in development for years before the first wafers shipped, and will continue to produce products for years into the future. And obviously companies with less capacity than TSMC will take longer to reach the million-wafer milestone.

Though most industry coverage has moved on to the next thing by the time the first wafers from a new generation ship, it's good to remember that the process's economic impact is just beginning at that point.

Why I'm studying Japanese

Despite a slow period in the late 90s and early 2000s, Japan remains a leading investor in semiconductor design and manufacturing. In fact, SEMI reports, the country accounted for about a quarter of global equipment sales from 2003 to 2006.

While emerging markets generate lots of excitement, mature economies like Japan (and the US) have lots of structural advantages. They may go through rough years or even rough decades, but their very size ensures their diversity and resilience.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A step in the right direction

Cymer announced that the company's EUV source has achieved 100 W burst power, and claims to be the first to achieve this milestone. The laser-produced plasma source uses a tin target with a carbon dioxide laser. No word on pulse frequency, lifetime, or spectral purity, though presumably these were discussed at the recent International EUVL Symposium.