The evolution process intel

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The Evolution of Intel’s Copy EXACTLY!

Technology Transfer Method

Chris J. McDonald, Intel SEMATECH

Index words: copy exactly, technology transfer

Semiconductor manufacturing is characterized by very com- plex process flows made up of individual process steps, many of which are built to very close tolerances. Furthermore,there are complex interactions in these process flows, whereby each process step can affect many other steps, and each final device parameter might be determined by the results from many inputs. This level of complexity is increasing with each new technology generation. Items that were once consid- ered second-order effects, such as barometric pressure and ultra pure water temperature, are nowimportant variables affecting process results.

The costs of technology development and capital equipment for production are very high and are increasing with each generation, thus making technology transfer very important. Once a new process flow and product portfolio have been developed, it is essential that the technology transfer to mass production take place as quickly as possible, withoutdisrup- tive quality issues, and with the highest possible yield. No time is available to debug new problems that occur during the transfer.

The traditional technology transfer approach often allows many equipment and process changes to be made. These changes are intended as improvements in the process, or they are for the convenience of the production factory, which may be already producing otherproducts. As semiconduc- tor technology becomes more complex, these changes have resulted in unforeseen problems that cause production start- up delays and inferior results.

The Copy EXACTLY! philosophy and systems were devel- oped [6] in order to minimize the time required for a technol- ogy to be transferred and to ensure product quality and yields are not compromised. The methodology hasbeen improved and refined, and has become an important element in Intel’s overall manufacturing strategy [1]. This paper describes the Copy EXACTLY! methodology and the increase in technol- ogy transfer performance that it has brought about. Some side benefits of this methodology are also discussed.

Table 1 shows the typical technology transfer approaches used over the last tenyears or so. At the 1.5-micron genera- tion, process flows were much simpler than they are today. A small band of technical experts would typically be employed to orchestrate a successful technology transfer. Generally there would be few ground rules. Since there is always a lengthy “certification” or “qualification” exercise to prove product quality and reliability, the transfer from R&D tomanu- facturing, or to a new factory, offered the opportunity to introduce improvements to the equipment and process. The latest model equipment or even a new vendor might be cho- sen. Process recipes could be changed to improve them. In the case of an existing factory picking up a new process flow, changes were made to match existing processes and meth- ods to improve efficiency and productivity.Sometimes, a wafer size conversion would even be made at the same time, involving many changes. Overall, however, the number of variables was relatively small, which made it simple to trouble shoot any results that did not come out as expected.


Table 1: Technology transfer strategies

For the one-micron generation, technology transfer started to get more complicated.A structured methodology was needed, whereby each process step would be measured to ensure it matched a target value or complied with a set of
specification limits [2] [3]. Most projects, however, only fo-

The Evolution of Intel’s Copy Exactly! Technology Transfer Method I
Intel Technology Journal Q4’98

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