International Edition

  • COMET PCT will launch their latest RF Generator platform

    July-Interview

    At SEMICON West in San Francisco, COMET PCT will launch their latest RF Generator platform. It is
    called Synertia and Trevor Galbraith spoke to Comet PCT President Michael Kammerer about the significance of this long awaited product.

    Welcome, Michael.

    Thank you, Trevor, for giving me the opportunity for that interview. Yes, it’s good to see you again. We’ve had a pretty rough ride the last couple of years with all sorts of different supply chain shorts and problems throughout the industry.

    How has Comet’s business done over the past years through the COVID situation?

    So far, so good. Especially the PCT business went quite well, or I would say well. We continued to gain market shares in the last years and maintained our place as market leader in both of these subsystem spaces, matchboxes and vacuum capacitors. We also opened a new volume manufacturing site in Penang, Malaysia, and a new sales office in Taiwan. Comet gained new customers and double digit
    design wins every year.

    That’s interesting. So is the majority of your business over in the Asia market or is it spread more evenly? The main customers are sitting in the US, but 80% of our products go to the Asian market finally. This is why we also choose Penang, to be close to the Asian market.

    Yeah, that makes sense.

    So Comet’s known as the expert in both vacuum capacitors and matching networks. How are you performing within these markets lately?

    So we are the market leader in both of
    these markets with these products and saw a year over year single digit market share in matching networks. We wanted to reach the 40%, but unfortunately we landed at 39 point
    something. But I’m sure next year we will be over 40.

    Comet has some presence in the generator space. How will this new platform expand your services available in these markets?

    So that will definitely open a huge opportunity. Our SAM will grow from about $5, 600 million to $1.5 or 1.7 billion with having this generator, and then in combination also with the new matchbox
    technology, what we also been developed, by the way. It’s not only the generator, it’s also a new matchbox control, and that is then going to get to the market finally. Okay. That’s going to be quite a significant jump for you then. So the generator system’s called Synertia and you describe
    it as a power delivery platform.

    What synergies are enabled across the generators, and matches, and vacuum capacitors?

    So it’s a superior plasma measurement and its control at the sub microsecond level. Let me say, one and one will result in three. That is finally what we’re going to do to target and achieve. And thanks to the vertical integration of the same sub components, this is all in our hands and we can do, with all these sub components, the final design out of our hands. We don’t have to buy the critical components to do the final design.

    Right, that’s very useful. During the development of the platform,

    What new tools and techniques were developed and deployed? And how did they impact the process?

    First of all, for being able to design a modern product platform, we invested in a cutting edge development environment. So we built or heavily expanded the lab space, we built a so-called smart lab, and this is just a closed loop environment to development the new RF generator and also the new RF matchbox technology.

    And where is that located?

    That is located in Switzerland. But we will duplicate these smart labs to other R&D locations like San Jose in the Silicon Valley, like Aachen in Germany. That’s mainly the production place for our new generator. And we will also duplicate it later to further design locations of PCT. Okay, good. So the design co-optimization is a key point of discussion throughout the value chain these days.

    Can you expand on a couple of the new platform capabilities that facilitate this co-optimization for OEMs and possibly for the FABs as well?

    Absolutely. The focus lies on advanced data visualizing by helping often adaptive graphical user interface, a GUI. So that will be a very user friendly GUI so, I just saw it yesterday, you really want touch it, you want to start play with, so that’s a very user friendly GUI. And for example, it includes advanced oscilloscope functions for direct access to crucial process parameters.

    Can you elaborate then on the target markets or applications that Synertia is focused on?

    They are the leading applications in edge and deposition, including ALD and ALE processes.
    Okay.

    What new capabilities will Synertia then bring to the process challenges within these applications?

    Multi-level pulsing with wave shaping, customizable frequency tuning, and advanced plasma analytics. Okay, that’s quite a lot. What impact will these new capabilities have on the ICmaking process?
    That’s pretty simple. It will improve the device yield through output and accelerate
    the time to monitor our customers.

    ESG, of course, is a big topic across the semiconductor manufacturing center, not just the semiconductor side, but how is Synertia addressing these concerns?

    So we have a better AC to RF conversion efficiency and lower watt usage. That results in lower footprint and lower total cost of ownership for our customers, and for the environment, of course. Okay. So I know that we’ve got a big launch planned for SEMICON West, which is coming up next month.

    It is available now for process testing and full release by year’s end?

    It’s already available. We already delivered some Beta 1 versions to customers for initial testings. We are now in production for the Beta 2 versions, and the Beta 2 versions will start to be spread out around July. Then we will serve further customers and the existing Beta 1 customers will get a Beta 2 version, and the Beta 2 version is very, very close, if not already finished the final version.

    The final one, okay. Of the final one, we will go in H-volume in beginning of next year January. Right. So you’re looking at really, by the end of the year, you should be ready to move into production. Well, it’s certainly a very exciting development for Comet, Michael, and I want to wish you every success with it. And I want to thank you for coming in and telling us about it today.

    Thank you very much to you, Trevor. And again, thank you very much for giving me and Comet this opportunity. It’s always great to talk to you. Thank you.
    – TREVOR GALBRAITH

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