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Mask shop

A mask shop is a factory which exclusively manufactures photomasks for use in the semiconductor industry within a cleanroom. There are two distinct types found in the trade. Internal (captive) are in-house and owned by the big semiconductor corporations for use exclusively by them and their sourcing partners.

Merchant mask shops will produce photomasks for a variety of integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) or optical device companies in addition to providing excess cavity work and re-pellicle for captive mask shops.

The company structure is similar to that of any medium sized manufacture and has the following unique departments or mask makers:

  • Sales Customer / customer services
  • Front end data prep
  • Facilities maintenance - plant & environment
  • Engineering - equipment maintenance
  • Engineering - process, inspection & metrology
  • Quality assurance
  • Shipping & dispatching

Infrastructure (technical and financial)

As of 2006, the costs to set up a basic low volume Merchant mask shop to manufacture 65nm specification product (tools only, no facility or data prep) is a follows:

  • Blank Inspection: Lasertec $3m
  • Mask writer (Lithography ) Toshiba 5000 or Hitachi HL-8000 EB $14m
  • Mask writer 2nd pass PSM: ALTA 4300 Laser. $8m
  • Resist Coat: Sigmameltec CTS 7000 $3m
  • Sigmameltec PEB and Developer: SFB/SFD3500 $2.8m
  • Plasma Etch: AMAT Tetra II $3.5m
  • HF Etch:SigmaMeltec SFH 3000 $1.3m
  • CD Metrology: Leica LWM 250 DUV & AMAT NanoSEM 3D $2m
  • Image Metrology: Lasertec MPM 193 & 157 $2m
  • Image Metrology: ZEISS AIMSFAB 193 & 157 $2m
  • Registration Leica I-PRO II $2.5m
  • Defect Inspection: KLA-Tencor SLF87 $10m
  • Defect Inspection: AMAT Aera193 $10m
  • Defect Repair: Seiko 5000 $4.5m
  • Defect Repair: RAVE nm1300 $5.5m
  • Resist Strip: SigmaMeltec MRC 7500 $3m
  • Cleaning Precision: Sigmameltec MRC 8000 $3.5m
  • Other miscellaneous equipment installation & service $8m

Total $88m

Yield of less than 5 reticles per day.

Construction costs of a suitable factory, plant and cleanroom will depend on location but can be around $20-30m. CATS (software) licensing up to $1m dependent on formats and threads.

The future

As technology shrinks, the cost to mask shops increase and the product turn around time grow longer as well. The trend in this new decade is for manufacturing to migrate eastwards to reduce cost and lead times. Once technology restrictions in the Wassenaar Arrangement are reduced, high end reticles and integrated circuits will be produced in mainland China rather than Taiwan.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Mask_shop". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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