How To Sleep Easier If You Test Auto ICs For A Living


Last month, I looked at the product definition process of automotive ICs, using the $7 billion microcontroller market as an illustration of design exploration to optimize performance, features, die size and product cost. Now I’d like to look at the back end of the process — the final IC testing that’s still critical no matter how sound the upfront work in defining a featuring set and aptl... » read more

Improving Yield, Reliability With Data


Big data techniques for sorting through massive amounts of data to identify aberrations are beginning to find a home in semiconductor manufacturing, fueled by new requirements in safety-critical markets such as automotive as well as the rising price of packaged chips in smartphones. Outlier detection—the process of finding data points outside the normal distribution—isn't a new idea. It ... » read more

Filtering Out Fab Problems


Bertrand Loy, president and CEO of Entegris, sat down to discuss the semiconductor industry, process challenges and filter technology with Semiconductor Engineering. What follows are excerpts of that conversation. SE: What is the outlook for the IC industry? Loy: A lot of positive things are happening. Eighty percent of what we do are consumables, which would be chemistries and filters. ... » read more

A More Efficient Way To Calculate Device Specs Of Thousands Of Tests For Improved Quality And Yield


Today’s devices are required to pass thousands of parametric tests prior to being shipped to customers. A key challenge test engineers face, in addition to optimizing the number of tests they run on the device, is how to quickly and accurately define the true specification limits that should be used to determine if the device is “good”. Device specification limits that are too wide may... » read more

Finally, Realizing The Full Benefits Of Parallel Site-To-Site (S2S) Testing


A very common and well-known practice by manufacturers during the IC test process is to test as many of the device die or packaged parts as possible in parallel (i.e. sites) during wafer sort and final test in order to increase test time efficiency and lower overall test costs. The constraints that typically restrict how many test sites can be used at any given time are the design I/O and capac... » read more

Understanding How Small Variations In Photoresist Shape Significantly Impact Multi-Patterning Yield


Multi-patterning schemes such as Self-Aligned Double Patterning (SADP) and Self-Aligned Quadruple Patterning (SAQP) have been used to successfully increase semiconductor device density, circumventing prior physical limits in pattern density. However, the number of processing steps needed in these patterning schemes can make it difficult to directly translate a lithographic mask pattern to a fin... » read more

Patterning Problems Pile Up


Chipmakers are ramping up 16nm/14nm finFET processes, with 10nm and 7nm now moving into early production. But at 10nm and beyond, chipmakers are running into a new set of problems. While shrinking feature sizes of a device down to 10nm, 7nm, 5nm and perhaps beyond is possible using current and future fab equipment, there doesn't seem to be a simple way to solve the edge placement error (EPE)... » read more

MEMS: Improving Cost And Yield


MEMS devices inspire awe on the design side. On the test and manufacturing side, they evoke a different kind of reaction. These are, after all, the intersection of mechanical and electrical engineering—a joining of two miniature worlds that are the basis of some of the most complex technology on the planet. But getting these devices to yield sufficiently, understanding what does or does no... » read more

The Final Days…Getting To Sign-Off Faster With Calibre


With deadlines looming, the design flow between router output and final tape release can be stressful and frustrating. By combining a focused set of commands into macros, the Calibre YieldEnhancer tool enables designers to create customized, automated flows for engineering change order (ECO) filling, passive device insertion, custom fill to increase densities, jog removal, and via enhancements.... » read more

Transferring Skills Getting Harder


Rising complexity in developing chips at advanced nodes, and an almost perpetual barrage of new engineering challenges at each new node, are making it more difficult for everyone involved to maintain consistent skill levels across a growing number of interrelated technologies. The result is that engineers are being forced to specialize, but when they work with other engineers with different ... » read more

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