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Author Topic: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?  (Read 27426 times)

gmrza

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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2012, 08:39:31 PM »

(Also, maybe that explains the 7D v2 firmware? Obviously it was a stop-gap because the 7Dmk2 wasn't ready for market, could it be troubles with the new process? Or just maybe once they go to the new process, the 7Dmk2 will have so much freakingly better IQ than the 5D3 (or even close-to would be nice), that instead they held off on it until the 5D3 is a year old before the 7Dmk2 launch, so as to not cannibalise too much?)

I suspect you are right - I would expect a 7DII to be announced around a year after the 5DIII was. - The 7D was launched roughly a year after the 5DII.

I don't expect the 7DII to have the same relationship to the 5DIII as the 7D did to the 5DII - a lot of people who could not afford a 1DIV bought a 5DII and 7D.  Given the upgrades to the 5DIII AF (AF points, accuracy and f/8 coming) and frame rate, the 7DII will probably fulfil a different role.
For instance, wildlife photographers will probably start to opt for a 5DIII and 1.4x TC rather than a crop body.

That said, I hope a 7DII and enthusiast-level mirrorless will be platforms on which we might see a new manufacturing process being used.

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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2012, 09:11:49 PM »
I don't expect the 7DII to have the same relationship to the 5DIII as the 7D did to the 5DII - a lot of people who could not afford a 1DIV bought a 5DII and 7D.
Now, if -and that's a big IF- 7DII uses the new technology sensors and an AF system that is between the 7D's and 5D3's (hopefully 5D3's) then I cannot think why it couldn't be the new wildlife camera. An 18Mpixel APS-C sensor with a quality close to 5D3's would kill... Of course this would cannibalize the 1DX and the new super telephotos sales
« Last Edit: October 28, 2012, 09:13:30 PM by tron »

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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2012, 10:28:09 PM »
I'm just hoping they try it with 6D.  If they do, 6D will be selling like pancakes should performance improve greatly.  They've done it with 5D2, now is the time to do it with another one.

I think that is highly unlikely - the cost base of the 6D has to be significantly lower than the 5DIII.  The $2000 to $2100 odd price-tag of the 6D is the high water mark for the price.  The price of the 6D will, if anything, follow a similar trajectory to the 7D - possibly testing $1500.  Canon will need every bit of margin it can get to sustain that kind of a price drop.  That would just not be possible with a new manufacturing process.

Yeah, I reckon we'll see a new process launched with a 7Dmk2 or 70D, I doubt the 6D is it (although it would go some way to explaining the price vs features of the 6D). Seriously, they can't use the same 18MP sensor in *yet another* aps-c camera. I'm curious as to whether anyone's x-rayed the 650D, maybe that's already on the new process? Either way, the 70D might use the same sensor as 650D if it's launched first, otherwise if the 7Dmk2 is first then it could lead with the new process.

(Also, maybe that explains the 7D v2 firmware? Obviously it was a stop-gap because the 7Dmk2 wasn't ready for market, could it be troubles with the new process? Or just maybe once they go to the new process, the 7Dmk2 will have so much freakingly better IQ than the 5D3 (or even close-to would be nice), that instead they held off on it until the 5D3 is a year old before the 7Dmk2 launch, so as to not cannibalise too much?)

I don't think it's impossible though highly unlikely.  With the recent Canon sales performance, anything and everything is possible.  Sometimes the goal is to sell move even at the cost of little profit per unit.  Also 6D will be competing with D600 which already have superior specs at least on paper.  In order to compete, Canon might do something revolutionary in their lineup.  I don't know what it is but certainly WIFI and GPS isn't it.  5D3 at least has better AF, better build quality and better in low-light performance than D800 (without downsizing).  Of course, I might be wrong.  You know how stubborn Canon is... :(
« Last Edit: October 28, 2012, 10:32:18 PM by verysimplejason »

LetTheRightLensIn

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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2012, 10:50:07 PM »
Chipworks recently released an article analysing the CMOS Image Sensor (CIS) processes from a variety of manufacturers, including Nikon, Sony, and Canon. Historically, Canon has used a 0.5 micron (500nm) process for all of their FF sensors since the original 1Ds. In the Canon analysis, they noted that Canon has a 0.18 micron (180 nanometer) fabrication process (possibly what they used for the 120mp APS-H?) that they may begin using for future FF sensors:

Quote from: Chipworks
Canon does have a 0.18 µm generation CIS wafer fab process, featuring a specialized Cu back end of line (BEOL) including light pipes (shown below). It is possible to speculate that Canon may be preparing to refresh its FF CIS line to supply devices for a new FF camera system.

A move from their 0.5um process to a 0.18um process for FF CIS manufacture would be a fairly significant move for Canon. The accompanying image figure also seems to indicate a double microlens layer...one above the CFA and one below...which could lead to higher Q.E. The article also mentions the use of "Light Pipes", a term I had not heard before. According to a few papers I've read, lightpipes in CMOS sensor design make use of high refractive index materials and a reflective wall in the optical stack the  to improve transmission of light from the color filter/microlens to the photodiode, which exists at the end of a narrow tube where all the readout wiring exists (in a frontside-illuminated design). Seems like a lightpipe is an alternative to using a backside-illuminated design that aims to improve Q.E while avoiding some of the complexities and issues with BSI designs. Additionally, the use of copper interconnects should improve efficiency, allowing lower power usage, and hopefully leading to a lower level of electronic noise (the great bane of Canon these days.)

Seems Canon is most definitely not out of the CMOS Image Sensor design game yet. They seem to have some new tricks up their sleeves, and hopefully they will see the light of day in their next FF camera. Ah, competition is good!

Hopefully. Hopefully they take advantage of it and can fit column ADC and stuff on their sensors now.
It sounds like there is some promise there, hopefully it will be delivered.



« Last Edit: October 29, 2012, 12:11:26 AM by LetTheRightLensIn »

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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #19 on: October 28, 2012, 11:57:17 PM »
A lot of people here are making assumptions about Canon not releasing new products for a variety of reasons, from pricing policy, to milking older technology, to marketing decisions, even to a reluctance to invest capital expenditure in the new machinery required for even thinner chips and sensors, but few people are considering the simple logistical facts: manufacturing enough quantity (inventory) prior to shipping.

Canon is a victim of it's own success, it has made and sold more than 50 million digital-SLR bodies since 2000 (starting with the D30, then D60 up to the 1DX and 6D bodies). In the first 8 years Canon sold 24 million DSLR's or about 3 million per year. Over the last 4 years they've sold almost as many again, now averaging 6.5 million DSLR bodies each year - that is nearly 542,000 per calendar month and more than 27,000 per working day! Assuming that Canon requires a minimum of a 3-month inventory of a new product prior to launch + another 2-3 months supply in-transit (got to ship those boxes half way around the world, time in bonded warehouses, customs etc.), then they have to have a half years Sales Supply in hand before launch. This is probably why the 6D is not being delivered till early-December (which means they could have been manufacturing it since May).

These logistical supply constraints add up to a considerable lead time. This delay in manufacturing enough new product to physically deliver to specialist camera stores goes a long way to explaining why many CR bloggers feel that Canon has slipped behind competitors in the recent product launch stakes - perhaps the decisions to go ahead with a specific feature-list were made 18 months prior to actual launch, or some figure like that. Whichever way you look at it, Canon has to produce hundreds of thousands if not millions of sensors and digic processors for their cameras, months even before they arrive in your country.

It is a physical impossibility for Canon to launch e.g. a 7D2 in Spring 2013, if they're not already making the parts for that particular body right now....in large quantities.

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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2012, 01:10:43 AM »
Chipworks recently released an article analysing the CMOS Image Sensor (CIS) processes from a variety of manufacturers, including Nikon, Sony, and Canon. Historically, Canon has used a 0.5 micron (500nm) process for all of their FF sensors since the original 1Ds. In the Canon analysis, they noted that Canon has a 0.18 micron (180 nanometer) fabrication process (possibly what they used for the 120mp APS-H?) that they may begin using for future FF sensors:

Quote from: Chipworks
Canon does have a 0.18 µm generation CIS wafer fab process, featuring a specialized Cu back end of line (BEOL) including light pipes (shown below). It is possible to speculate that Canon may be preparing to refresh its FF CIS line to supply devices for a new FF camera system.

A move from their 0.5um process to a 0.18um process for FF CIS manufacture would be a fairly significant move for Canon. The accompanying image figure also seems to indicate a double microlens layer...one above the CFA and one below...which could lead to higher Q.E. The article also mentions the use of "Light Pipes", a term I had not heard before. According to a few papers I've read, lightpipes in CMOS sensor design make use of high refractive index materials and a reflective wall in the optical stack the  to improve transmission of light from the color filter/microlens to the photodiode, which exists at the end of a narrow tube where all the readout wiring exists (in a frontside-illuminated design). Seems like a lightpipe is an alternative to using a backside-illuminated design that aims to improve Q.E while avoiding some of the complexities and issues with BSI designs. Additionally, the use of copper interconnects should improve efficiency, allowing lower power usage, and hopefully leading to a lower level of electronic noise (the great bane of Canon these days.)

Seems Canon is most definitely not out of the CMOS Image Sensor design game yet. They seem to have some new tricks up their sleeves, and hopefully they will see the light of day in their next FF camera. Ah, competition is good!

Hopefully. Hopefully they take advantage of it and can fit column ADC and stuff on their sensors now.
It sounds like there is some promise there, hopefully it will be delivered.

Yeah, I really hope they implement some kind of CP-ADC. At the very least, it could help them minimize vertical banding noise, and reduce noise introduced by the ADC itself (since each one per-column could run at a lower frequency.) Every time I read the press release about the 120mp APS-H, I swear it vaguely describes some kind of on-die ADC...column-parallel or not, it would at least be a step forward.
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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2012, 07:27:47 AM »
A lot of people here are making assumptions about Canon not releasing new products for a variety of reasons, from pricing policy, to milking older technology, to marketing decisions, even to a reluctance to invest capital expenditure in the new machinery required for even thinner chips and sensors, but few people are considering the simple logistical facts: manufacturing enough quantity (inventory) prior to shipping.

Canon is a victim of it's own success, it has made and sold more than 50 million digital-SLR bodies since 2000 (starting with the D30, then D60 up to the 1DX and 6D bodies). In the first 8 years Canon sold 24 million DSLR's or about 3 million per year. Over the last 4 years they've sold almost as many again, now averaging 6.5 million DSLR bodies each year - that is nearly 542,000 per calendar month and more than 27,000 per working day! Assuming that Canon requires a minimum of a 3-month inventory of a new product prior to launch + another 2-3 months supply in-transit (got to ship those boxes half way around the world, time in bonded warehouses, customs etc.), then they have to have a half years Sales Supply in hand before launch. This is probably why the 6D is not being delivered till early-December (which means they could have been manufacturing it since May).

Wow - that's a lot of cameras!  But, the vast majority of them are xxxD/xxxxD bodies (and some of the latter are made in Taiwan).  The higher-end bodies likely do not need that level of pre-release stock build-up.

In a way, though, we are victims of Canon's success.  They're on top, have been on top for a long time, and thus the pressures to innovate are less strong.
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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #22 on: October 29, 2012, 09:03:26 AM »
In a way, though, we are victims of Canon's success.  They're on top, have been on top for a long time, and thus the pressures to innovate are less strong.

So we should all publicly hold off from buying a new Canon (FF) DSLR until they migrate to the new process.

Assuming that it will bring the desired/required/imagined advantages (and it's not too late, like for Neuro' :-).

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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #23 on: October 29, 2012, 11:26:40 AM »
A lot of people here are making assumptions about Canon not releasing new products for a variety of reasons, from pricing policy, to milking older technology, to marketing decisions, even to a reluctance to invest capital expenditure in the new machinery required for even thinner chips and sensors, but few people are considering the simple logistical facts: manufacturing enough quantity (inventory) prior to shipping.

Canon is a victim of it's own success, it has made and sold more than 50 million digital-SLR bodies since 2000 (starting with the D30, then D60 up to the 1DX and 6D bodies). In the first 8 years Canon sold 24 million DSLR's or about 3 million per year. Over the last 4 years they've sold almost as many again, now averaging 6.5 million DSLR bodies each year - that is nearly 542,000 per calendar month and more than 27,000 per working day! Assuming that Canon requires a minimum of a 3-month inventory of a new product prior to launch + another 2-3 months supply in-transit (got to ship those boxes half way around the world, time in bonded warehouses, customs etc.), then they have to have a half years Sales Supply in hand before launch. This is probably why the 6D is not being delivered till early-December (which means they could have been manufacturing it since May).

These logistical supply constraints add up to a considerable lead time. This delay in manufacturing enough new product to physically deliver to specialist camera stores goes a long way to explaining why many CR bloggers feel that Canon has slipped behind competitors in the recent product launch stakes - perhaps the decisions to go ahead with a specific feature-list were made 18 months prior to actual launch, or some figure like that. Whichever way you look at it, Canon has to produce hundreds of thousands if not millions of sensors and digic processors for their cameras, months even before they arrive in your country.

It is a physical impossibility for Canon to launch e.g. a 7D2 in Spring 2013, if they're not already making the parts for that particular body right now....in large quantities.

I'm not sure all of that really qualifies Canon as a "victim" in any respect. Every company wants to be so popular that they can't keep up with demand...that is kind of the holy grail of the free market and supply & demand.

Also, if Canon makes a move to a 180nm process, it won't be in their highest volume products, which are all the APS-C parts. FF sensors are low-yield, just as the product sales are. If Canon has a fraction of their facilities dedicated to 180nm wafer fabrication, I don't see why that would be a problem for manufacturing a low-volume part, such as a 40-50mp FF sensor using new technology. The camera will either be a 1D or a 2/3/4D (although all of those kind of have "dimensional" names, and half of them carry some kind of mythical superstitious connotation to the Japanese, so...I'm guessing 1D line.)

It'll be a costly camera, although probably not as costly as some people seem to think (Canon won't sell a non-flagship body for $9k...it'll probably wind up somewhere between $5k - $7k.) They aren't going to be selling tens of thousands of those a month, nor will they need to stockpile hundreds of thousands before launch. A lower fabrication capacity should do quite well for a low-volume part like that.
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jrista

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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #24 on: October 30, 2012, 01:30:03 PM »
Chipworks recently released an article analysing the CMOS Image Sensor (CIS) processes from a variety of manufacturers, including Nikon, Sony, and Canon. Historically, Canon has used a 0.5 micron (500nm) process for all of their FF sensors since the original 1Ds. In the Canon analysis, they noted that Canon has a 0.18 micron (180 nanometer) fabrication process (possibly what they used for the 120mp APS-H?) that they may begin using for future FF sensors:

Quote from: Chipworks
Canon does have a 0.18 µm generation CIS wafer fab process, featuring a specialized Cu back end of line (BEOL) including light pipes (shown below). It is possible to speculate that Canon may be preparing to refresh its FF CIS line to supply devices for a new FF camera system.

A move from their 0.5um process to a 0.18um process for FF CIS manufacture would be a fairly significant move for Canon. The accompanying image figure also seems to indicate a double microlens layer...one above the CFA and one below...which could lead to higher Q.E. The article also mentions the use of "Light Pipes", a term I had not heard before. According to a few papers I've read, lightpipes in CMOS sensor design make use of high refractive index materials and a reflective wall in the optical stack the  to improve transmission of light from the color filter/microlens to the photodiode, which exists at the end of a narrow tube where all the readout wiring exists (in a frontside-illuminated design). Seems like a lightpipe is an alternative to using a backside-illuminated design that aims to improve Q.E while avoiding some of the complexities and issues with BSI designs. Additionally, the use of copper interconnects should improve efficiency, allowing lower power usage, and hopefully leading to a lower level of electronic noise (the great bane of Canon these days.)

Seems Canon is most definitely not out of the CMOS Image Sensor design game yet. They seem to have some new tricks up their sleeves, and hopefully they will see the light of day in their next FF camera. Ah, competition is good!


If competition is to working then Canon must:
1. Buying steppers from Nikon so that they are able to go down in size and expose a greater surface area than the compact cameras surface with the same accuracy
2.Buy lenses from Zeiss that can handle the resolution to expose a greater area than Canon can today
3. Dedicate a line for the APS and 24x36
4.  This is large  and heavy investments and are not shown anywhere in press or business reports
5.Gain experience as Sony and others and has refined its manufacturing , today's column  ADC sensors from Sony are from the third generation.
Time will tell "what they have in theirs sleeves" , myself, I think they have slept too long

I'm not sure what you mean by "buy steppers from Nikon" for the purpose of exposing surface area. That comes off as rather inane and nonsensical when you consider Canon MANUFACTURES CMOS Lithography units.

As for lenses, Canon lenses are some of the best in the world, and I believe they offer at least as much, if not more, resolution than a lens from Zeiss. Canon is at the bleeding edge of optical science, and they have pushed the envelope in that arena farther than any other company, including Zeiss. They manufacture their own scanners with their own optics, and as far as I know they are capable of scaling well below 100nm these days.

The most significant reason I've stuck with Canon rather than expanding my kit to include Nikon is the quality and resolution of their lenses. They are lighter, use better materials, and often have MTF's that indicate they are perfect or near-perfect wide open (particularly in the case of the lenses I need most, their telephoto and supertelephoto lenses.) Canon has also stated in the past that their newer lenses are more than capable of handling the resolution for a 45mp FF sensor, which is no surprise, as that's about the same pixel density as their now-ubiquitous 18mp APS-C sensor. If there is any area where competition from Canon is impeccable, it is their optics...they are second to none these days, regardless of the industry.

As for "gaining experience" manufacturing sensors, Canon has DEMONSTRATED experience making sensors. It is no mean feat to push a 500nm process as far as they have...they have apparently extracted every last ounce possible from that process, and still remained competitive (thats "competitive", not "best"...not being best does not mean something is no longer competitive.) That demonstrates a particular knack that Canon has for pushing their technology to the utmost limits, and in my opinion, that only bodes that much better for Canon once they do move to a 180nm process. Canon is efficient, efficient to the extreme. They may not stay at the supreme bleeding edge of sensor technology at all times, but they WILL extract every last ounce of benefit they can from it once they get there, and that is why they are the largest, most profitable camera producer in the world.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 01:58:29 PM by jrista »
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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #25 on: October 30, 2012, 01:40:52 PM »
The company I work for used to do 65nm logic devices on Canon steppers, with no problems. I really can't go into details, since I still work there. The ASML steppers (Zeiss) you talk about run about $60 million ea. I am sure Nikons aren't much different. Those guys are for running 14nm logic stuff, not sensors at 180nm. There is a huge used semiconductor equipment market where the steppers that Canon needs to run 180 nm is much cheaper than that.  There logic devices we made were larger than camera sensors, roughly 4 die.

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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2012, 01:49:00 PM »
The company I work for used to do 65nm logic devices on Canon steppers, with no problems. I really can't go into details, since I still work there. The ASML steppers (Zeiss) you talk about run about $60 million ea. I am sure Nikons aren't much different. Those guys are for running 14nm logic stuff, not sensors at 180nm. There is a huge used semiconductor equipment market where the steppers that Canon needs to run 180 nm is much cheaper than that.  There logic devices we made were larger than camera sensors, roughly 4 die.

Canon uses their own scanners for their wafer fabs, I don't think they buy much of it from other companies. Canon is in the business of manufacturing Semiconductor Lithography Systems. Not just parts of systems, but entire lithography systems, including the ones capable of sub-100nm manufacture. Canon is more than capable of manufacturing the necessary lenses for a 180nm process. Their glass is impeccable and on the cutting edge, has been for a long time...I don't doubt they have the capability to manufacture a lens capable of etching tiny transistors into a silicon wafer. As a matter of fact:


If competition is to working then Canon must:
1. Buying steppers from Nikon so that they are able to go down in size and expose a greater surface area than the compact cameras surface with the same accuracy
2.Buy lenses from Zeiss that can handle the resolution to expose a greater area than Canon can today
3. Dedicate a line for the APS and 24x36
4.  This is large  and heavy investments and are not shown anywhere in press or business reports
5.Gain experience as Sony and others and has refined its manufacturing , today's column  ADC sensors from Sony are from the third generation.
Time will tell "what they have in theirs sleeves" , myself, I think they have slept too long

We don't need to wait for time. Here is Canon's latest Deep-UV Sub-wavelength Scanner that can be used for sub-100nm manufacture: FPA-6000ES6a Scanner

Quote from: Canon
* The NA0.86 projection optics system developed through Canon's advanced lens design and measurement technology enables the ES6a to print down to 90nm.

* The AFIS (Advanced Flexible Illuminator System) improves efficiency of special illumination, and its flexible mode-settings allows users to freely design their own illumination modes.

* Its high throughput and high resolution enables ES6a to replace some of the ArF layers needed at 90nm production and even at 65nm production, reducing the total cost of ownership.

I've added emphasis that highlights the fact that these DUV Lithography units use CANON'S own optics, for 90nm manufacture...there is no need for Canon to run to the nearest competitor to "buy up" all the "necessary technology" to be competitive. THIS IS WHAT CANON DOES, and they are very good at it.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 02:13:33 PM by jrista »
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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2012, 02:30:39 PM »
No
Canon has no steppers who can do the job with larger sensor areas and  the cells we are talking about
And no, Zeiss is the only one who can provide lenses  for larger  sensors areas with smaller geometry we also are discussing

You don't necessarily have to use standard stepper for manufacture of sub-wavelength features. You can use a scanner, or scanning stepper, as well. In Canon's own words:

Quote from: Canon
The FPA-6300ES6a KrF single-stage lithography tool is designed for the mass production of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM), flash and other memory devices; logic devices such as microprocessors for personal computers; color filters and other imaging sensors and image-processing devices.

Emphasis added to highlight where they explicitly state their DUV scanners can be used to manufacture bayer (color filter) and other types of imaging sensors. Canon isn't manufacturing these things as a single full-sensor exposure in a standard stepper...they use scanning steppers to expand the exposure field:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stepper#Scanners

Quote from: Wikipedia
Modern scanners are steppers that increase the length of the area exposed in each shot (the exposure field) by moving the reticle stage and wafer stage in opposite directions to each other during the exposure. Instead of exposing the entire field at once, the exposure is made through an "exposure slit" that is as wide as the exposure field, but only a fraction of its length (such as a 9x25 mm slit for a 35x25 mm field). The image from the exposure slit is scanned across the exposure area.

There are several benefits to this technique. The field can be exposed with a lesser reduction of size from the reticle to the wafer (such as 4x reduction on a scanner, compared with 5x reduction on a stepper), while allowing a field size much larger than that which can be exposed with a typical stepper. Also the optical properties of the projection lens can be optimized in the area through which the image of the projection slit passes, while optical aberrations can be ignored outside of this area, because they will not affect the exposed area on the wafer.

The DUV Scanner I linked before is what's described above...a sub-wavelength scanning stepper designed to manufacture large area (200mm and 300mm wafers) with details (90nm, or even as small as 65nm it seems) smaller than the wavelength of light used (which in the Case of the 6000ES6a is 248nm from a Krypton-Fluorine laser.)
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 02:36:39 PM by jrista »
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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2012, 04:01:02 PM »
One of the main differences between a logic line and a sensor line is in how deeply you can work into the substrate surface.
I'd suggest you take a look at the specs on the machine you mentioned.

Canon's main (almost only...) customer for their stepper line is Canon Semi. They're on a very steep downwards revenue curve, and have been for the last five years. Canon semi's only large customer is Canon imaging. See a slightly disturbing picture here?

The effect this has on available budgets is quite profound:
Sony invest about 1.0-1.5 billion dollars per year in new and improved lithography and processing lines. Having spent almost 7 billion on the Kumamoto TEC site for the last 5 years, next year the smaller Nagasaki TEC is getting 1.5 billion next year.
This IN ITSELF is more than the total revenue of Canon Semiconductor.

And Sony is only the third largest manufacturer (at 18% total market revenue), Both Samsung and Omnivision are larger than Sony. Then comes STM, Toshiba and Aptina. Those big six corner about 80-85% of the world revenue in CMOS imaging sensors. Canon has about 6.5 to 7% of the world market in sales value - though only about 3% in sold units, since they are heavily specialized in large sensors.

TheSuede

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Re: Canon to start using 0.18um (180nm) process for FF?
« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2012, 04:20:35 PM »
The main problem as I see it is that Canon don't really have any real development momentum (or budget!) on higher resolution processes. They outsource almost everything except for the larger format sensors.

The biggest difference between the others and Canon is that all the other manufacturers are all dominated by their small-sensor image sensors sales, that already now are manufactured at 90 and 110-130nm metal processes on 300mm wafers. Panasonic and TSMC will start volume shipping of sensors made on 65/45nm rules in Q1 2013. Lower mask resolutions than 130nm are not enough to land you any sales any more. Most cellphone and compact camera sensors are manufactured at those levels now, and have been for the last few years. Also consider the fact that some of the others have very large yearly revenues from logic CMOS processes at 45, 32 and even 22nm levels. All of those markets are areas where Canon totally lack any type of experience. Canon outsource all more advanced fabs on their camera bill-of-materials.

The Digic sensors are made by UMC http://www.umc.com/english/class_300/index.asp, and were designed by Texas Instruments http://www.ti.com/lsds/ti/apps/videovision/end_equipment.page
The memory is most often made by Samsung http://www.samsung.com/global/business/semiconductor/product/consumer-dram/overview
The memory/Digic package-on-package mount has to be outsourced, since Canon cannot do it themselves, and it is believed that UMC does the mounting too.
Other peripheral control and logic chips are TI, Mitsubishi, AD and Fairchild.
.........

Going from a 500nm process to 180nm is like going from a 10MP FF camera to a 70MP camera in one generation. This means some really noticeable strains on the process, especially since the CMOS manufacturing process isn't as forgiving as just "taking pictures". You cant "scale to web size" and sharpen in post when you're making CIS wafers.

What you're basically asking from your equipment is to all of a sudden provide compact camera type linear resolution in a FF lens projection coverage - something almost unthinkable in the normal photographic world. The process has to be precise, to a degree where every single contrast and item on the new 70MP image is equal to or better than the 10MP camera - per pixel. In normal photographic resolution usage, we just want the final output to be good enough, which means that we downsample most images - we seldom deliver full-res images to the customers, and we seldom use full-res images in our own output.
Going from a 350nm mask to 250 and then 180nm and 12" wafers was a BIG step for most CMOS manufacturers, and most other manufacturers are a LOT bigger than Canon in this area.
............

So it's not that Canon COULDN'T do it. Even really small (in the imaging field) firms like STMicro can do it by stitching, and thereby tripling the unit prices. For Leica this isn't really a problem since the total BoM on a M series camera is most certainly lower than 2k USD. This gives a healthy margin up to the projected 7k USD end price point.
This isn't what Canon does. They live on volume, not on extreme margins.