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Applied Materials Launches into Fast-Growing CMP Market with Innovative New System; High-Throughput Mirra CMP -- Chemical Mechanical Polishing -- System Offers Outstanding Technical Performance and Reliability in a Compact Design.

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 1, 1995--Applied Materials Inc. has entered the rapidly developing equipment business for Chemical Mechanical Polishing (CMP), a critical technology increasingly being used for semiconductor manufacturing.

CMP system sales have grown from about $46 million in 1993 to an estimated dollar $155 million in 1995 and could reach as much as $1 billion by the year 2000.

The Mirra CMP is the first in a family of CMP systems under development at Applied Materials that will provide continuous advancements in system technology and productivity. The Mirra product line will cover the full range of CMP film types as chemical mechanical polishing becomes more widespread in its global production applications.

Dr. Sass Somekh, senior vice president of Applied Materials' Worldwide Product Operations, said, "Our goal from the start has been to bring technical innovation and true manufacturing worthiness to CMP, then leverage our global organization to proliferate this new technology around the world. There is already tremendous interest in this system from customers in every geographic region, making all types of devices."

The new system uses a proprietary multiple-station architecture for continuous processing of several wafers at one time, enabling exceptionally high throughput of up to 60 wafers per hour (6000A blanket PETEOS film removal), a 3-fold increase over the CMP market's current leading supplier. Pioneering new performance standards in fab economics, the Mirra's cost of ownership is also about 40% less than its main competitor. At about 25 square feet (2.3 square meters), the Mirra's "footprint" is 30% smaller than the smallest competitive CMP system on the market, requiring a minimum of costly fab floorspace.

"We believe that our system's advanced capabilities will spur the market for CMP technology as well as make continued generations of semiconductors possible, as chips use more vertical layers with smaller critical dimensions," Somekh noted.

A key technical breakthrough is Applied Materials' proprietary ISRM (In Situ Removal Monitor) technology, which measures the removal rate of material during the polishing process and automatically ends the process with a high degree of accuracy. The Mirra's ISRM also greatly reduces the need for post-CMP measurement and correction. The ISRM's "signature" can be routinely used to quickly restore the system to operating condition after maintenance, without the lengthy, material-consuming re-qualification procedures commonly needed with other systems.

Dr. Jeffrey Marks, general manager of the CMP product development group, said, "Unlike other CMP systems, which evolved from raw wafer polishing equipment, the Mirra CMP system was designed from the start for sub-half-micron semiconductor device processing. We've used Applied Materials' depth of technical resources to break new ground in CMP system architecture and process technology, as well as to ensure the necessary productivity, automation and cleanliness performance expected in a modern fab."

Many of the Mirra's components and sub-systems are designed to be installed and maintained without the need for adjustment throughout the life of the system, speeding up maintenance and increasing availability. Other critical components, such as the compact, high-torque motors that provide wafer and pad rotation, were chosen from a global competition among suppliers with the most outstanding technical capabilities.

Systems are currently undergoing evaluation by several key customers, with production shipments beginning in 1996. Applied Materials' strategy is to introduce the system to its customer base worldwide, utilizing its comprehensive global infrastructure for dedicated local support and service wherever a system is installed. Customers from several regions have participated in the design process to ensure production worthiness, including both logic and memory manufacturers. Customers in the United States, Japan, Europe and Asia-Pacific are currently scheduled to receive systems. Base price for a fully configured three-polishing-head system for volume production is $1.7 million; a single-head configuration, for potential R&D use, is available for $950,000.

From a survey of its global customer base, considering both projected fab capacity expansions and step-by-step fabrication techniques for current and future devices, Applied Materials estimates the CMP market to reach approximately $200 million in 1996, growing to between $850 million and $1 billion by 2000.

Applied Materials Inc. is a global growth company and the world's largest supplier of wafer fabrication systems and services to the global semiconductor industry. Applied Materials is traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol, "AMAT."

CONTACT: Applied Materials Inc.

Charles Lewis, 408/748-5819 (Editorial/Media)

Bill Ong, 408/235-6232 (Financial Community)
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Dec 1, 1995
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