October 30, 2001 – Santa Clara, CA – Applied Materials Inc. and PDF Solutions have announced a collaboration to provide comprehensive yield improvement solutions to semiconductor manufacturers. The program combines Applied Materials’ inspection and methodical defect reduction technology with PDF Solutions’ process-design characterization methodologies.
“As chipmakers move toward the nanometer chip era, they are experiencing increased yield loss due to design and electrical issues that often can’t be detected by inspection systems alone,” said Russell Ellwanger, VP and GM of Applied Materials’ Factory Productivity Solutions business group.
Applied Materials’ and PDF Solutions’ yield enhancement program begins with the qualification and characterization of a customer’s production processes and devices. The program uses the Compass advanced patterned wafer inspection system, the SEMVision automatic defect review and classification system, and the DSI (Defect Source Identifier) software applications from Applied Materials and the proprietary characterization vehicle test chips from PDF Solutions. The PDF CV test chips are tailored for a customer’s specific chip processes and optimized with Applied Materials’ systems for maximum sensitivity and efficiency. This approach improves the customer’s ability to locate both random and systematic problems, including electrical defects. The yield improvement service is being offered to chipmakers on a global basis for both 200mm and 300mm wafer fabs.
Since Applied Materials provides both processing systems and diagnostic tools, the company said it can quickly uncover inline root causes of defects and take corrective actions at the equipment level. Applied Materials’ methodical defect reduction (MDR) group provides the methodologies to integrate diagnostic tool capabilities, defect characterization techniques and root cause analysis into a defect knowledge library, according to the company, allowing faster yield learning cycles and improved return on investment to its customers.
“PDF Solutions’ design-related analytical technology and its customer-specific Characterization Vehicle test chips offer a perfect counterpart to Applied Materials’ methodical defect reduction strategy,” said John Kibarian, president and CEO of PDF Solutions. “Previously, it has been difficult for manufacturers to evaluate yield loss resulting from the interaction of chip design and process until the product was in production. Working together, PDF Solutions and Applied Materials can more quickly isolate the root causes before production and validate that subsequent changes will result in a more robust process window.”
Applied Materials is also working closely with PDF Solutions to fully characterize several of its multiple-system process modules in Applied Materials’ Equipment and Process Integration Center (EPIC), in Santa Clara, CA. Using PDF Solutions’ technology, Applied Materials’ goal is to provide customers with yield-related electrical data for wafer output of a process module.