South Korea-based semiconductor equipment firm Tes has passed the pilot test to supply GPE equipment to Samsung Electronics’ foundry lines, according to industry sources on Jan. 16.
This indicates a shift from memory chips to the non-memory chip sector for the firm, they said.
“Our goal is to supply the GPE equipment to Samsung’s foundry lines this year,” a Tes official told The Elec. Currently, about 20% of Tes’ semiconductor equipment revenues are derived from GPE equipment.
GPE equipment uses HF gas to selectively shave off the natural oxide film on the surface of the wafers used for manufacturing semiconductors. GPE is said to be a more stable and thorough method compared to plasma-based dry-etching equipment.
“The plasma dry-etching technology ends up paring down the metal as well, unlike GPE which is more selective and sophisticated,” said a source close to the matter.
The rise of Tes could mean that Tokyo Electron could lose its dominant status at Samsung’s foundry division. Before Tes came along, Tokyo Electron had been the only company that managed to commercialize GPE equipment.
Tes first began to supply the GPE equipment to memory lines at Samsung Electronics and SK hynix in 2010. The ratio of Tokyo Electron equipment and those from Tes is about 6 to 4, according to industry watchers.
One market watcher said that the latest move to add Tes to Samsung’s foundry equipment supplier portfolio may be related to efforts by South Korean manufacturers and the government to wean itself off of Japanese suppliers.
They also said that while it’s not easy entering the foundry equipment market, suppliers can expect a stable contract once it bags a deal.
The Elec is South Korea’s No.1 tech news platform.