The world around us is changing rapidly, as society becomes increasingly automated and connected. We rely on a broad range of connected electronic devices, often called the Internet of Things (IoT), to control our homes, offices, vehicles, and communications.
Due to the expansion of artificial intelligence, these devices are getting smarter, enabling office building environments and public transportation to be optimized in real time, without human interaction. It allows individuals to speak to their electronic personal assistants for guidance, carry out information searches, or to execute tasks. This connected and automated world is creating the demand for massive amounts of data, requiring ever-greater computer processing power and storage, capable of analyzing and acting on the data quickly and effectively. Making this possible requires the processing power of semiconductor chips. And it is our technology that is playing a vital part in making it all possible.
We design, manufacture, and sell equipment and services to our customers for the production of semiconductor devices, or integrated circuits (ICs). Semiconductor ICs, often called chips, are a key technology that enable the advanced electronic products used by consumers and businesses everywhere. Our innovative technologies are used by the most advanced semiconductor manufacturers.
Our customers’ goal is to build faster, cheaper, and more powerful semiconductors. We work closely with them to make this a reality, forging mutually beneficial partnerships that enable us to help them develop their technology roadmap. At the same time, our customers become expert users of our equipment, and their insights help us to continuously improve our systems, resulting in greater productivity and lower operating costs per wafer, benefiting us, them, and the end consumer. The result is value creation not only for our customers, but for all of our stakeholders.
Collaboration is a vital part of our success, which is why we have developed close ties with many of our stakeholders. For example, we maintain partnerships with technical institutions and universities to carry out cutting-edge research and development (R&D). At the same time, working closely with our suppliers helps us manufacture, service, and sustain our products efficiently.
The process of making semiconductor chips is both highly complex and very costly. Semiconductor fabrication plants, called fabs, house a large set of wafer-processing equipment which performs a series of process steps on round silicon wafers, which are typically 300mm in diameter. The equipment is operated in cleanrooms, which filter the air to avoid contamination from small particles that could negatively affect the circuitry on the chips. The dimensions of the features within each chip continue to get smaller, as the demand for performance continues to expand.
Our systems are designed for deposition processes when thin films, or layers, of various materials are grown or deposited onto the wafer. Many different thin-film layers are deposited to complete the full sequence of process steps necessary to manufacture a chip. After testing the individual circuits for correct performance, the chips on the wafer are separated and then packaged in a protective housing before ultimately becoming part of a set of semiconductor chips on circuit boards within an electronic product.
Our people are the driving force and the differentiating factor behind these innovations, which is why we focus on attracting and retaining talented individuals from across the globe. We know that it takes the right mix of people, working together, to solve big challenges. Investing in our people enables us to deliver the advanced nanotechnologies that lead to better products, resulting in an expansion in the connections, automation, and intelligence that drive our daily lives.
A key driver in the semiconductor industry is the continuous demand for smaller, faster, and cheaper semiconductor components. Through technology advances in the manufacturing process, semiconductor manufacturers are continuously scaling chips to smaller dimensions. This enables more transistors to fit in the same physical space, thereby reducing the costs and increasing the speed and performance of a device. Moore's Law states that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit will double approximately every two years, and the cost per transistor will reduce by half over the same time frame. The industry’s relentless push to follow Moore’s Law and the continuous demand for smaller, faster, and cheaper semiconductor components drives the technology advances in the semiconductor manufacturing process.
ASMI is a global company with offices around the world. We are present in all major markets of our customers.