courtesy of Dominion Semiconductor
here is an 8-inch silicon wafer manufactured by Dominion Semi-conductor
in its Manassas facility. Each wafer contains several hundred
128-megabit DRAM memory chips used to power laptops and a
broad array of other computer equipment.
on semiconductor manufacturing
University, in partnership with Dominion Semiconductor Co. and
Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology, has launched a new
Semiconductor Manufacturing Information Technology Center.
The first-of-its-kind collaboration will use advanced data mining
and warehousing techniques in a complex, high-tech manufacturing
environment. The center is located at Dominion's state-of-the-art
chip fabrication facility in Manassas, and will also have a companion
laboratory at U.Va.; both will be staffed by University students
and researchers. The goal of the collaboration is to improve productivity
at the Dominion facility while giving students hands-on experience
with actual manufacturing data. CIT helped launch the center with
a grant of $35,000 as part of its mission to strengthen the competitiveness
of Virginia technology companies.
center's classroom will use advanced data mining and warehousing
software to analyze real-time data from Dominion's manufacturing
process, as well as identify potential production problems. Dominion
has hundreds of variables in its complex fabrication process that
can affect the number of working chips created on an 8-inch silicon
wafer. Research has demonstrated that introduction of data mining
and warehousing techniques can increase the number of parameters
that can be examined in the effort to increase manufacturing output,
but their use is new in complex processes such as semiconductor
Data mining software seeks to identify useful patterns within
huge amounts of data. The data mining tools have the potential
to speed Dominion's responsiveness to manufacturing changes and
expand its understanding of potential manufacturing problems,
an issue that is becoming increasingly important as Dominion's
memory chips become smaller and their designs more complex.
addition to analysis of manufacturing and test data, the center
will be able to employ advanced data modeling techniques and "what
if˛ operational analysis, applying the latest advances in factory
modeling and simulation. The center will also provide feedback
to creators of the data mining software tools to improve future
versions while at the same time serving as a research laboratory
for U.Va.'s Institute for Microelectronics. The facilities at
Dominion and at U.Va will be linked over the Internet.
"We're excited about the center's potential to help us speed
refinements to an increasingly complex manufacturing process,˛
Dominion president and general manager Alex Graham said. "In
the marketplace in which we participate, competition rewards those
who can constantly improve and do it quickly."
W. Miksad, dean of U.Va.'s School
of Engineering and Applied Science, participated in a ceremony
at Dominion's plant in Manassas April 21, marking the opening
of the center.
"By using the Internet to connect this database facility
at Dominion Semiconductor in Manassas with a mirror facility at
U.Va. in Charlottesville, we are creating a truly special opportunity
for Dominion employees and our students to learn, interact and
contribute in today's world of high-tech manufacturing,"
Semiconductor Manufacturing Information Technology Center is a
ground-breaking research and development initiative," said
Virginia Secretary of Technology Donald W. Upson. "This collaboration
is an excellent example of Virginia's educational institutions
and private industry partnering to research for future growth."
Semiconductor, which began as a joint venture between IBM and
Toshiba, manufactures 128-megabit dynamic random access memory
(DRAM) chips and will begin production of flash memory chips by
the end of the year, when it becomes a wholly-owned Toshiba subsidiary.