Company's sales this year to jump 80%
South Korean semiconductor deposition equipment maker Eugune Technology has won a large order for atomic layer deposition (ALD) equipment from Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor division, TheElec has learned.
Eugune beat Japan’s Kokusai Electric to win the large order.
Samsung had relied on Kokusai for all of its ALD equipment prior to the latest deal. The addition of Eugune as its supplier of the high-value equipment will give it leverage in negotiations for them going forward.
Eugune will supply 13 units of ALD equipment first. These are currently being supplied to Samsung’s newest DRAM factory at its Pyeongtaek plant in South Korea.
Eugune will supply over 30 units of them in total, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The ALD equipment the company is supplying is called furnace-type or batch-type. It can handle multiple wafers in the chamber simultaneously.
If the machines can guarantee high quality thin film, they can process more wafers.
Samsung currently use hundreds of units of these machines made by Kokusai at its DRAM production lines.
The equipment has various applications. It can be used to deposit high-K materials on capacitors of DRAM. High-K materials are applied to reduce interruptions caused by the gates becoming narrower in smaller DRAMs. Beside high-K materials, they are also used to form titanium nitride films.
ALD equipment is also used in inter layer dielectric process, in which insulating film are formed between the silicon nitride layers.
Samsung is expected to use Eugune’s ALD equipment to deposit titanium nitride or silicon nitride, another person familiar with the matter said.
Deposition of high-k materials require careful control of the temperature within the equipment, they said. But nitrdie deposition can be done at a wider temperature range, and there is also less concern for particle contamination, they said. Samsung will likely use Eugune’s equipment for less difficult processes first and expand into more sophisticated processes slowly.
Meanwhile, Samsung had previously had troubles with Kokusai. The South Korean tech giant had requested multiple times that the Japanese firm accelerate the wafer processing speed of its machines. However, Kokusai refused every time. The trade scuffle between South Korean and Japan, as well as the announcement in 2019 that Applied Materials was planning to acquire Kokusai (which has now fallen through), pushed Samsung to attempt to localize the supplier of ALD equipment.
Prior to Eugene, Samsung had collaborate with Wonik IPS to develop an ALD equipment. But the equipment never commercialized and the endeavor was deemed a failure.
Eugene can expect high profitability from the ALD equipment supplier. Its conventional chemical vapor deposition equipment costs around 3 billion won to 4 billion won per unit. But ALD furnace equipment costs around 6 billion won to 7 billion won per unit.
Kokusai’s ALD equipment could handle less than 100 wafers per unit, but Eugune’s can process 150 wafers, the person with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Eugene last year recorded 202.6 billion won in sales. South Korean analysts expect the company to record 370 billion won in sales this year, an 80% increase.
A company spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.