KLA-Tencor Announces New Upgrade Package for 28xx Broadband Brightfield Inspection Systems

Today KLA-Tencor Corporation (NASDAQ:KLAC), a leading provider of process control and yield management solutions, partners with customers around the world to develop state-of-the-art inspection and metrology technologies, announced XP, a new upgrade package for 28xx broadband brightfield inspection systems.

The XP package is the first commercially available product to give an inspection system access to standard IC design layout files — the instructions that enable mask shops to pattern the mask. With access to this information, the inspection system can use knowledge of the defect’s location within the circuit to better estimate its probability of affecting device yield. In addition, XP can use the results of the design-aware wafer inspection to identify features on the mask that may be particularly sensitive to process variations during printing. These and other features of the XP upgrade package are designed to improve the sensitivity and productivity of existing 28xx inspectors and raise the information content of defect results, helping to accelerate identification and resolution of defect issues.

“As chip complexity and price pressure increase in our consumer-driven markets, our customers are asking for tools to facilitate root-cause defect analysis, improve their productivity, and effect faster, more efficient ramps,” remarked Mike Kirk, Ph.D., vice president and general manager of KLA-Tencor’s Wafer Inspection Group. “Today our leading-edge fabs have to cope with advanced lithography techniques that enable 193nm lithography to print features with dimensions nearly one-tenth the illumination wavelength, dimensions that can now be measured in countable atoms. In this environment, even the smallest defect on a wafer or marginal pattern on a mask can have an enormous yield impact. Our new XP package represents a major step forward in addressing our customers’ need to optimize defect capture and identify systematic and other yield-relevant defects from a sea of irrelevant or ‘nuisance’ defects. Moreover, XP can provide this valuable capability cost-effectively: as an upgrade for inspection systems that already exist in most leading-edge fabs.”

The new XP package includes several features designed to improve inspection results or inspector productivity, including:

  • Preferential capture of yield-relevant defects — during inspection — based on the density of the circuit pattern at the defect site;
  • Optimization of defect capture throughout all areas of interest within the die by using circuit design information to set highly localized defect detection thresholds according to pattern group;
  • Early detection of marginal lithography conditions, enabled by close monitoring of pattern types having the smallest process margins; and
  • Offline generation of derivative “recipes” — the optical, mechanical and algorithm parameters settings that govern the inspection — for new layers or new devices. This feature, one of several recipe acceleration features, can significantly reduce time and labor required for recipe setup, thereby increasing inspector productivity and making recipe optimization feasible even for small lots or rapid prototyping of devices.

Offered as an upgrade to the widely adopted 281x and 282x brightfield inspection systems, the XP package has been shipped to multiple foundry, memory and logic fabs and has been featured in more than 20 technical papers.

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