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July 22nd, 2007
Battle heats up in mask tool business
Another competitive and critical market is mask repair. Mask makers are sometimes hesitant to buy these systems, but they face a harsh reality: there is no "zero defect process" in the mask or fab flow, Rave's Lee said. "At 65-nm and below, you will have to use [repair technologies like] nanomachining," he said.
The mask-repair vendors -- Rave, SII NanoTechnology, Zeiss and others -- continue to battle each other in a small market. In total, vendors will ship some 5-to-8 tools per year. The average selling price for a tool is about $5 million.
Mask repair is fragmented and divided into three technology categories: e-beam, focused-ion beam (FIB) and nanomachining. There is no silver bullet in mask repair. Each technology plays a role in the mask shop.
Rave sells laser-based and nanomachining tools. At Semicon West, the company tipped its new product roadmap, by showing machines for the 45- and 32-nm nodes.
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