FEI Company and PDF Solutions(R) Release Powerful New Semiconductor Defect Analysis Solution

Integration of FEI's Advanced DA 300HP DualBeam(TM) and PDF Solutions' CV(R)

Infrastructure Helps Semiconductor Manufacturers Accelerate Yield Learning

Dec 13, 2005, 00:00 ET from FEI Company

    HILLSBORO, Ore., Dec. 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- FEI Company
 (Nasdaq:   FEIC), the industry leader in Tools for Nanotech(TM), and PDF
 Solutions, Inc., the leading provider of semiconductor process-design
 integration technologies and services, jointly announced the successful
 integration of PDF Solutions Characterization Vehicle(R) (CV) infrastructure
 (CVi) and FEI's Defect Analyzer (DA) 300HP next-generation DualBeam(TM) system
 for automated in-fab defect analysis.  The first combined solution was
 recently delivered to a global, U.S.-based developer and foundry of advanced
 microprocessor devices.
     The new integrated flow accelerates yield ramps of deep sub-micron
 semiconductors by speeding root cause analysis of defects.  This gives
 customers better control over advanced processes along with improved yields,
 reduced time-to-market, and significantly reduced process development costs.
 In the integrated flow, PDF Solutions short-flow CV test chips are run through
 the factory, where electrical tests are performed to identify non-visual,
 subsurface failures. Once the CV analysis software identifies failures, it
 works in conjunction with the voltage contrast capabilities of the FEI DA
 300HP to precisely localize the failures (both opens and shorts) on the wafer
 to within a fraction of a micron. Defects are then automatically cross-
 sectioned by the DA 300HP, resulting in a detailed sub-surface image of the
 relevant failure location and of the failing structure. The image enables
 engineers to more rapidly and accurately identify the cause of failures and
 validate potential process changes to determine those that reduce failure-
 rates to an acceptable level.
     "As recognized in the yield roadmap outlined in the latest International
 Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), capturing, identifying,
 analyzing, and resolving non-visual defects and yield-detracting systematic
 mechanisms are major challenges faced by the semiconductor industry," said
 professor Andrzej Strojwas, chief technologist at PDF Solutions.  "Having
 participated in more than 30 deep sub-micron process development and ramp
 projects -- more than 12 at the 90nm to 45nm nodes -- PDF Solutions recognized
 that working with FEI could help to successfully address these challenges."
     PDF Solutions addresses the challenges of non-visual defects through its
 CVi, which provides a comprehensive set of test chip designs that contain a
 broad range of experiments aimed at identifying process-design yield
 sensitivities. The short-flow CV test chips are combined with a parallel fast
 tester and dedicated analysis software. The CVi greatly reduces the time to
 identify yield detractors and to evaluate potential process fixes.  This is
 because manufacturing a short-flow CV test chip requires only a fraction of
 the 90 or more days required to manufacture and electrically test a full-flow
 product wafer.
     "At FEI we understand our customers' requirements to rapidly acquire three
 dimensional defect data and images," commented Matt Harris, vice president of
 worldwide marketing for FEI. "By integrating the DA 300HP with the PDF
 Solutions CVi, we are providing our customers even faster access to that
     FEI's DA 300HP is a highly automated in-fab 300 mm DualBeam (FIB/SEM) that
 is critical for yield-limiting defect identification, in-line module
 qualification, and defect and process marginality correlation. Utilizing
 Automatic Defect Redetection and Cross-Sectioning (ADR/ADX) along with Slice
 and View(TM), the DA 300HP is able to provide statistically significant root
 cause data.  The FEI DA 300HP brings 3D defect diagnostics into semiconductor
 fabs to rapidly deliver critical process data and keep processes in control.
     Traditional methods of defect cross sectioning -- where failures are
 identified on a product or an SRAM wafer that is then sent offsite for
 analysis -- has introduced a bottleneck in the sequence of yield improvement
 activities. The DA 300HP helps eliminate such bottlenecks by combining voltage
 contrast and defect cross sectioning in one tool, and enabling customers to
 perform these critical activities faster on the manufacturing floor. The new
 methodology is designed to reduce failure analysis time by several days
 compared with traditional flows.
     About PDF Solutions
     PDF Solutions, Inc. is the leading provider of process-design integration
 technologies for manufacturing integrated circuits (ICs). PDF Solutions
 software, methodologies and services enable semiconductor companies to create
 IC designs that can be more easily manufactured using manufacturing processes
 that are more capable. By simulating deep sub-micron product and process
 interactions, the PDF solution offers clients reduced time to market,
 increased IC yield and performance, and enhanced product reliability and
 profitability. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., PDF Solutions operates
 worldwide with additional offices in Europe and Japan. For more information,
 visit www.pdf.com.
     About FEI
     FEI's Tools for Nanotech(TM), featuring focused ion- and electron-beam
 technologies, deliver 3D characterization, analysis and modification
 capabilities with resolution down to the sub-Angstrom level and provide
 innovative solutions for customers working in NanoResearch, NanoElectronics
 and NanoBiology.  The company's products for NanoElectronics address a robust
 set of both fab- and lab-based applications including 3D metrology and defect
 analysis, mask repair and circuit edit.  With R&D centers in North America and
 Europe, and sales and service operations in more than 40 countries around the
 world, FEI is bringing the nanoscale within the grasp of leading researchers
 and manufacturers and helping to turn some of the biggest ideas of this
 century into reality.  More information can be found on the FEI website at:
 http://www.feicompany.com .
     NOTE:  PDF Solutions, Characterization Vehicle, and CV are registered
 trademarks of PDF Solutions, Inc.
     DualBeam and Tools for Nanotech are registered trademarks of FEI Company.