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SEMulator3D 2014 – New Enhancements for Virtual Fabrication in the 3D IC Era

SEMulator3D 2014 – New Enhancements for Virtual Fabrication in the 3D IC Era
by Pawan Fangaria on 04-05-2014 at 7:30 am

A Virtual Platform for any kind of design or manufacturing in any discipline of science or engineering (electrical, mechanical, aeronautics etc.) must be able to provide an accurate representation of an actual design/product in a fraction of time and cost it takes to build working prototypes. In the case of semiconductors at technology nodes below 20 nm with incredibly complex structures, one can imagine how difficult it would be to truly represent a model of the actual fabrication process. But considering the tremendous cost and time of in-fab build-and-test cycles leading up to the final fabrication, it’s much more efficient to have a Virtual Platform to validate process development for fabrication. Kudos to Coventor for coming up with such a platform.

Since last DAC, I have talked about this innovative Virtual Fabrication Platform of SEMulator3D offered by Coventor. It provides an excellent software environment to quickly build-and-test a semiconductor or MEMS manufacturing process. The platform is versatile enough to let the designer or process engineer experiment with any kind of process technology such as FinFET on Bulk, FinFET on SOI, FDSOI and so on, and evaluate their design for fabrication through ‘virtual’ build-and-test cycles at their desk, thus saving enormous time and cost over in-fab experiments. It has the added benefit of letting them decide about the actual foundry to use when they have a perfect design in hand to be manufactured.

I am delighted to see the kind of progress Coventor has made, in a few years, to keep up with the pace of technology advancement. Each new release of SEMulator3D has enhanced the platform further to provide the ultimate fab experience to the semiconductor design and manufacturing community. The latest version of the platform, released this week, is perhaps the most exciting yet, adding features that improve prediction and accuracy, provide faster performance, enhance the GUI for ease of use, and many other improvements. It’s understandable; many enhancements are based on the requests from their customers who are seeing the real value in this Virtual Fabrication Platform. A list of important enhancements in SEMulator3D 2014 is mentioned in the press release.

I am particularly impressed with some of the very powerful modeling features which have been added. The modeling of various Pattern Dependent Etch effects provides great power to model today’s advanced 3D technologies. Several forms of pattern dependence such as Aspect Ratio Dependent Etching (ARDE) and Pattern Density Loading (PDL) have been added in the Basic Etch as well as MultiEtch model. The modeling coefficients and material-dependent coefficients can be either specified directly by expert process engineers or computed automatically by SEMulator3D by entering some measurement points through a Calibration Wizard. Since these are the features for seriously involved process engineers or designers, there are options to turn them off to not overwhelm general users of the tool.

Dr. David M. Fried
, CTO, Semiconductor at Coventor, in his blog has a nicely pictured pattern dependent etch process in a model for via calibration which shows different levels of etching for an isolated via, an array of small vias and a single large via. It’s a must watch live! Clearly, this shows process sensitivity to the design topography and parameters that provides even higher predictability with high degree of accuracy in the fabrication of the design.

Structure Search is another powerful feature which can quickly evaluate the entire 3D model for yield-limiting structural failures, such as locations of insufficient dielectric thickness and other violations. Some example images are shown above. In fact, it can provide new learning about the failures which were not anticipated. The violations are reported in textual file along with graphical error markers over the 3D model. This is a significant transformation over the time and effort consuming design rules (in spreadsheet) based checks. This, combined with other existing powerful features like Expeditor (with enhanced GUI for easier setup and execution of multi-dimensional DOEs) and Virtual Metrology, provides the user full control to examine process variation, margins, design sensitivity etc. in most efficient automated way at her desk without experimenting through the actual fab.

Another feature to name is Layout-Aware Rebuild that is very efficient in incremental builds. From pure performance perspective, multi-threading has been introduced in many automated software processes.

The SEMulator3D 2014 is a significant step forward towards accurate modeling of process-design interaction for advanced semiconductor process. It enables the highest level of predictability to ultimately provide high yielding reliable designs at much lower cost and reduced time.

More Articles by Pawan Fangaria…..

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