KLA-Tencor Introduces Starlight-2: Enabling Technology for 65-nm and Below Production Wafer Lithography

New Platform Delivers Most Cost-Effective and Comprehensive Contamination

Control Solution for Photomask Quality and Reliability Assurance in Wafer Fabs

Feb 15, 2006, 00:00 ET from KLA-Tencor

    SAN JOSE, Calif., Feb. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- KLA-Tencor
 (Nasdaq:   KLAC) today unveiled its next-generation photomask inspection system,
 STARlight-2(TM), providing wafer fabs with the most cost-effective
 contamination inspection solution in the industry for all types of photomasks,
 including mainstream extreme resolution enhancement technique (XRET)
 photomasks, at the 65-nm node and below.  It does so by leveraging
 revolutionary image processing technology compared to the previous-generation
 and industry-standard STARlight, which, since its introduction in 1993, has
 seen nearly 160 placements in wafer fabs and 175 placements in mask shops
 globally.  The system's enhanced inspection capabilities are especially
 designed for the detection of progressive defects -- an increasingly critical
 class of yield killers that significantly impact device yield over time and
 can cause catastrophic device reliability problems.  With STARlight-2, wafer
 fabs can implement a highly efficient, cost-effective photomask
 requalification strategy that enables them to maximize production yields by
 maximizing the size of the window in their advanced lithographic processes.
     "Our wafer fab customers' investment in infrastructure and time is
 exponentially higher with the increased adoption of immersion lithography and
 XRETs," said Harold Lehon, vice president and general manager of KLA-Tencor's
 Reticle and Photomask Inspection Division (RAPID).  "Consequently, they are
 more focused than ever on accelerating their time to profitability.
 STARlight-2 provides the timely information that our customers need to make
 yield-critical decisions and speed their production ramps.  The system's wide
 range of capabilities enables customers to create highly flexible photomask
 requalification strategies to meet their dynamic manufacturing requirements,
 and eliminate unnecessary rework and cycle time delays."
     Process challenges today include more than just zero-yield occurrences.
 Chipmakers are challenged by more gradual yield roll-off that deprives them of
 the highest performance and profit parts.  Crystal growth, haze and other
 progressive defects that cause this problem are escalating, and no solution
 exists to address them completely.  These contaminants form on photomasks from
 a variety of sources within the mask shop and wafer fab environments.  Over
 time, they grow and multiply as the photomask undergoes constant lithographic
 exposure, reducing the lithography process window more and more.  This
 phenomenon increases the risk of devices not meeting performance
 specifications and having serious reliability problems.  The combination of
 193-nm lithography and 300-mm wafer processing further exacerbates progressive
 defects since the photomasks endure longer periods of exposure at higher
 energy -- creating an ideal incubator for these contaminants.  In addition to
 finding these elusive defects before they collapse the lithography process
 window entirely, the revolutionary design of STARlight-2 provides the
 capabilities needed to meet all of the challenges associated with 65-nm
 designs, including new XRET strategies and the increase in feature packing
     With STARlight-2, customers are not forced to rely on other
 requalification strategies that put chip yields at risk or result in
 unnecessary rework and cycle time delays.  Its smaller pixel sizes (125nm and
 90nm) provide the resolution and sensitivity needed to detect mask
 contaminants on device layers with the smallest pattern features before they
 affect the process window or worse, print on the wafer.  STARlight-2's
 improved algorithms also enable contamination detection in high-density
 patterned areas, which are typically found on XRET masks, and its full-field
 inspection capability allows inspection in scribes and borders -- where
 progressive defects generally first emerge -- as well as on both single-die
 and multi-die photomasks.  All these capabilities are achieved while still
 maintaining the benchmark speed of KLA-Tencor's previous-generation STARlight
     KLA-Tencor will showcase its latest yield management and process control
 products, including the STARlight-2, at SPIE Microlithography 2006 (Booth
 1013) from Feb. 21 to Feb. 22 at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose,
     STARlight-2 is available now.
     About KLA-Tencor:  KLA-Tencor is the world leader in yield management and
 process control solutions for semiconductor manufacturing and related
 industries.  Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., the company has sales and
 service offices around the world.  An S&P 500 company, KLA-Tencor is traded on
 the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol KLAC.  Additional information
 about the company is available on the Internet at http://www.kla-tencor.com .
     NOTE:  STARlight-2 is a trademark of KLA-Tencor.