SAN JOSE, Calif., Feb. 8, 2001—KLA-Tencor Corp. (Nasdaq: KLAC) today announced it has achieved more than 500 percent growth in sales over the past six months with its latest generation electron-beam (e-beam) automated wafer inspection tool, the eS20XP. Since its introduction in July 2000, 17 of the top 20 semiconductor manufacturers worldwide have placed eS20XP orders—many of which are multiple and repeat orders. Customers, which include the leading edge integrated device manufacturers and foundries alike throughout the U.S., Europe, Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, are using the eS20XP in the ramp and production of high-end logic, microprocessors and digital signal processors (DSPs) as well as memory devices.
“KLA-Tencor’s advanced e-beam technology played a significant role in allowing TSMC to become the first foundry worldwide to deliver 0.13-micron products to customers,” said Konrad Young, TSMC’s deputy director of research and development. “TSMC utilizes in-line e-beam detection to address yield and device performance issues in copper and sub-0.13-micron production early in the research and development process, thereby minimizing the number of wafers placed at risk.”
The continuing trend toward smaller design rules and the emergence of new processes and materials in semiconductor manufacturing have created new process control and yield challenges for chipmakers. At the sub-0.13-micron node, detecting small physical defects has a much greater impact on yield than at the 0.18-micron node. In addition, advanced processes such as copper dual damascene introduce defects that are impossible to detect without either using e-beam technology or destroying production wafers for cross-section analysis. These small physical and electrical defects such as voids, under-etched contacts and microbridges, which affect both yield and device performance, are present below the wafer surface in high-aspect-ratio trenches and vias, as well as within the copper fill. With the worldwide semiconductor industry transitioning to sub-0.13-micron design rules and copper processing, KLA-Tencor estimates the market for e-beam inspection tools will grow from $60 million in 2000 to greater than $500 million in 2003.
“We believe that the pace at which we are receiving orders for the eS20XP is indicative of the rapid acceptance of e-beam inspection as an essential step in manufacturing advanced semiconductors,” stated Dr. Neil Richardson, executive vice president of KLA-Tencor’s E-Beam Inspection and Metrology Division. “KLA-Tencor introduced the industry’s first e-beam wafer inspection tool more than eight years ago, and has leveraged its more than 25 years of experience in wafer inspection to bring the eS20XP to market. This tool is one of the latest examples of our strategy to provide customers with the most technically advanced and innovative yield management solutions available. Our current 90 percent share of the worldwide e-beam wafer inspection market is a testament to the success of this tool.”
The eS20XP has the sensitivity to detect physical defects smaller than 100 nm and electrical failures within the device with its state-of-the art voltage contrast capability. This detection is done at speeds significantly higher than competing e-beam tools. In addition, the eS20XP employs industry-leading charge control technology, which enables customers to inspect process layers and materials such as silicon on insulator (SOI) and low-k dielectrics that previously could not be inspected due to charging issues.