KLA launches new inspection systems, inline screening to help fabs improve quality

MILPITAS, Calif.— The automotive industry is focused on innovations in electrification, connectivity, advanced driver assistance, and autonomous driving. This means vehicles require more electronics, which drives the demand for semiconductor chips. With chips at the core of vehicle operations and safety applications, reliability is critical and automotive chips must meet strict quality standards, according to a release from KLA Corporation.

To help chipmakers meet these requirements, KLA recently introduced four new products for automotive chip manufacturing: the 8935 high productivity patterned wafer inspection system, the C205 broadband plasma patterned wafer inspection system, the Surfscan® SP A2/A3 unpatterned wafer inspection systems, and I-PAT® inline defect part average testing screening solution.

“Today’s vehicles include thousands of semiconductor chips that sense surroundings, make driving decisions, and control actions,” said Ahmad Khan, president of the Semiconductor Process Control business unit at KLA, in the release. “These chips cannot fail—a fact that has led chipmakers to pursue new strategies to find and mitigate reliability-related defects in the fab, well before the chips are integrated in vehicles.

“Tailored for fabs producing automotive chips, our new products detect potential reliability defects at the source and provide an innovative solution for inline screening,” Khan continued. “These actions help fabs achieve production of high quality, high reliability chips at high yield to maximize their output.”

The three new inspectors are said to form a “complementary defect discovery, monitoring, and control solution for larger design node chip manufacturing in the automotive industry.”

The Surfscan SP A2/A3 unpatterned wafer inspectors incorporate DUV optics and advanced algorithms to produce the sensitivity and speed required to identify and eliminate process defects, which can cause automotive chip reliability issues, and to ensure process tools are operating at peak performance, according to the release.

For R&D and production ramp, the C205 patterned wafer inspector uses broadband illumination and NanoPoint™ technology for high sensitivity discovery of critical defects. This helps speed optimization of new processes and devices, the company said.

During high volume manufacturing, the 8935 patterned wafer inspector employs new optical technologies and DefectWise® AI to capture a variety of critical defects at a low nuisance rate. This is said to enable fast and accurate identification of process excursions that can affect final chip quality.

KLA described I-PAT as an innovative inline screening product that runs on KLA inspection and data analytics systems. It begins by extracting defect characteristics from data collected for all wafers at critical process steps by the high speed 8 Series inspectors, including the 8935, or the Puma™ laser scanning inspectors. It then leverages customized machine learning algorithms on the SPOT™ production platform and the statistical analysis capabilities of the Klarity+ defect management system to identify outlier defect populations to allow at-risk chips to be removed from the supply chain, the company said.

KLA said in the release that in addition to the development of new products tailored for automotive chip manufacturing, it continues to collaborate closely with the automotive industry. From KLA’s membership in the Automotive Electronics Council (AEC), the organization that sets qualification standards for electronic components in the automotive industry, to the company’s second headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, KLA said that it is committed to helping ensure the automotive industry achieves strict electronics quality standards.

“Our new products introduced today join our comprehensive portfolio of inspection, metrology, data analytics, and process systems that support multiple parts of the automotive electronics ecosystem,” added Oreste Donzella, executive vice president of the Electronics, Packaging and Components (EPC) business unit at KLA, in the release. “Each one of these products plays a key role in ensuring high yield, reliability, and performance of the chips, components, printed circuit boards, and displays that comprise automotive electronics.”

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