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INDUSTRY NEWS

KLA-Tencor teams up

Two separate collaborations with fellow semiconductor manufacturing suppliers have broadened KLA-Tencor's partnering efforts. A joint design for manufacturability project with Synopsys will develop a compact yield analysis and modeling system for Toshiba. The companies believe the system—which combines Synopsys's TCAD models with KLA-Tencor's advanced yield analysis and modeling tools—will allow the chipmaker to improve its parametric yields on its advanced sub-100-nm system-on-a-chip (SoC) products by predicting what impact process variations will have on final device performance as they appear during large-scale integration production. Toshiba says a critical goal of the project is to enable improved information sharing between its IC design and process engineers in order to accelerate the company's advanced process development and yield ramp efforts.

"Since SoC product life cycles are typically shorter than other devices, less process data can be collected to optimize the manufacturing process, making it all the more imperative that we get our processes right the first time," notes Shigeru Komatsu, Toshiba Semiconductor's chief knowledge and infrastructure officer. "Having the ability to model device performance based on real-time parametric yield data will allow us to make rapid decisions during production to fine-tune our processes and optimize our yields, as well as ensure we continue to meet our time-to-market requirements."

In a partnership move targeted at the wafer-processing space, KLA-Tencor and Dainippon Screen have taken ownership of Blue29. The Silicon Valley start-up, which has developed an electroless film deposition technology for copper interconnect, will become a wholly owned joint venture run by the two equipment suppliers. Under the terms of the agreement, DNS will provide a production system using Blue29's technology that meets customer requirements, while KLA-Tencor will be responsible for global sales, distribution, and support.

"Blue29's patented electroless film deposition technology has enormous potential for improving copper electromigration and stress migration—a key ingredient for achieving high reliability in copper devices," says Ken Schroeder, CEO of KLA-Tencor. "With the understanding that copper is fundamentally a wet process," adds DNS COO Takashige Suetake, "we expect to extend our know-how related to fluid management and single-wafer platform design and manufacturing into this market."

Strained silicon surges

IBM and AMD say they have developed a strained-silicon process that increases transistor speed as much as 24% with no loss in power efficiency. The chipmakers will implement the technology in 90-nm chips to be introduced in the first half of 2005. The new strained process, called "dual stress liner," enhances both pMOS and nMOS transistor performance by introducing compressive strain in one and tensile strain in the other, according to the two companies. They add that their researchers are the first to simultaneously improve the performance of both transistor types—measured as a function of gate delay at a given current leakage level—using conventional materials. Chartered Semiconductor, Sony, and Toshiba engineers, who were also involved in the development of the process, will have access to the technology, although the respective companies have not announced plans for its use.

Soitec and ASM International have produced samples of what they say is the first industrially manufactured 300- mm strained silicon-on-insulator (sSOI) wafers. The companies, which plan to extend their sSOI partnership, report that the quality of the 300-mm wafers—based on such metrics as strain value, silicon lattice deformation, strained-Si layer thickness, surface roughness, and thermal budgets—corresponds very closely with that achieved at 200 mm. The initial larger-diameter substrates are thin-film sSOI for fully depleted architectures, while the thicker-film sSOI wafers for partially depleted architectures will start sampling in 1Q 2005, according to the partners.

On the intellectual property front, Applied Materials will license AmberWave's suite of strained-Si technology to use on its Centura RP epitaxial systems. The equipment company says it has already sampled 300-mm strained-epi wafers from a leading chipmaker for advanced device development. Devices fabricated with AmberWave's technology, which can generate high levels of strain on both bulk Si and SOI, have reportedly demonstrated up to a 17% increase in speed and a 34% reduction in power consumption compared with transistors fabricated with traditional silicon.

SMIC, Fangtek collaborate

A strategic partnership between a local IC design company and the largest homegrown chipmaker underscores the growing technological sophistication of the Chinese semiconductor industry. Shanghai Fangtek, a multimedia-SoC design house, and SMIC, the world's fastest-growing foundry company, have signed an agreement for continued and increased manufacturing of Fangtek designs in SMIC's fabs.

The foundry already produces four of its partner's IC designs in volume, all of which are available to the global market. Fangtek introduced what it calls the world's first integrated multimedia processor, which integrates ADPCM, MIDI, MP3, and surround sound on a single chip, in July 2004.

IBM, Schneider market APC

After five years of working together in IBM fabs, Schneider Electric and Big Blue will offer their integrated advanced process control solutions (iAPC) to other chipmakers. The products and service package combines the supplier's power, automation, and control systems and some third-party technologies with IBM's On Demand business systems and expertise as well as its Global Services delivery and implementation division. Integrated APC includes add-on sensors, data collection, and fault detection systems for monitoring and optimizing chipmaking processes, along with such other components as plasma arc detection, particle monitoring, residual gas analysis, and automatic endpoint systems.

Through the use of iAPC approaches, IBM says it has been able to decrease the mean time to detection of abnormal operating conditions in its production facilities in Burlington, VT, and East Fishkill, NY. The company has also accelerated the recovery of optimal manufacturing operations when anomalies do happen. As a result, IBM has seen multimillion-dollar returns on investment from iAPC solutions based on the two partners' experience. These technologies, now available to the merchant market, can be quickly integrated in process tools and MES and automation systems in the fab.

Trazar unit targets service

A new business unit at Trazar will integrate lifetime service plans with the repair and maintenance of its own and other vendors' RF power generators and RF automatic impedance matching (AIM) networks. The service and repair unit is bolstered by the recent acquisition of RF Services by Trazar, as well as the Santa Clara–based company's continuing AIM networks sales, service, and applications support partnership with Metron (now a separate service and support operation within Applied Materials' Applied Global Service division). "Customers are looking for a one-stop approach to RF service and system maintenance. This includes the service and repair of other RF subsystems and access to additional fab services not typically offered by other RF OEMs," says Gary Ater, Trazar's vp of marketing and sales.


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