Despite decades of work, no one can fully fathom the limits of quantum technology. However, with each passing year, more real-world applications are revealed. For the chip industry, quantum technology represents an exciting new way to optimize certain aspects of semiconductor production.
Rohm Semiconductor has partnered with Japan’s Quanmatic to integrate quantum technology into its electrical die sorting (EDS) process. The duo recently conducted a successful demonstration with plans to roll out full-scale implementation in April 2024. This is the world’s first demonstration of using quantum tech to optimize manufacturing processes on a large-scale semiconductor production line.
Semiconductor manufacturing is incredibly complex, which makes optimizing every aspect of it nearly impossible. However, quantum computing specializes in turning the impossible into reality. Despite only making up one piece of overall chip production, the EDS process features a mind-boggling amount of variables that must be considered. Typically, optimization is carried out based on basic calculations and rules developed by technicians with expertise.
Rohm and Quanmatic want to revolutionize EDS optimization with quantum solutions. The duo built a prototype featuring quantum annealing algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI). They reportedly based this technology on research from Waseda University and Keio University in Japan.
The solution was then deployed domestically and internationally at Rohm’s chipmaking facilities. Production results showed significant improvement across several key performance indicators after the deployment. Utilization rates and delivery delays both rose by several percentage points.
On top of this, the quantum algorithm reduced computation time. It also enabled faster reaction times in response to changes in conditions at the manufacturing plants.
Rohm senior corporate officer and CTO, Tetsuo Tateishi, said in a statement, “The development of an operational system suitable for large-scale mass production lines using quantum technology represents a major step forward for the semiconductor manufacturing industry, enabling real-time optimization of production processes.”
“Going beyond the current situation, we will accelerate the introduction of quantum technology and related methods into a wide range of processes, with the goal of strengthening our stable supply system by establishing a more holistically optimized supply chain,” he added.
In the days to come, Rohm and Quanmatic plan to deepen their partnership and pursue other avenues for quantum integration. They’ll also work to improve the accuracy of the chip manufacturing system with continued trials.
For the rest of the chip industry, this is a noteworthy development that signals potential changes for the future. Quantum computing is just beginning to take off. Many believe 2024 will be the year when many quantum applications move from the realm of theory to reality. As chipmakers seek new ways to improve their production and optimize the manufacturing of more complex semiconductors, quantum features could become an essential part of the production process.