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Tool claims dramatic reduction in OPC closure time

Posted: 31 Jan 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Halo-Fix? LRC? lithography rule check? Aprio Technologies? OPC?

Claiming to offer optical proximity correction (OPC) closure in a fraction of the time of conventional tools and methods, design-for-manufacturing startup Aprio Technologies Inc. introduced a new tool that makes available the lithography rule check (LRC) repair technology used by the company's Halo-OPC product to manufacturers using third-party LRC and OPC tool sets.

The tool, dubbed Halo-Fix, is designed to provide LRC repairs locally, offering companies the option to implement rule- or model-based repairs.

Sub-100nm processes currently use simulation-based LRCs, which identify manufacturability risks in post-OPC layout in much the same way that design rule checks (DRCs) verify likely failures in design layout. According to Aprio, conventional tools for repairing LRC violations generally require changes to the design layout or tighter OPC recipes.

But Halo-Fix is said to offer users of third-party LRC or OPC tools access to the LRC-fixing features already employed by Halo-OPC. Data from any OPC tool may be repaired or optimized to improve the design's process window, the company said, and error flags from any mainstream LRC tool can be used to identify the areas requiring repair.

Aprio is not able to identify the supported third-party tools. Most of the manufacturers of these tools, viewing Aprio's technology as a competitive threat, have yet to agree to partnerships with the company, according to Randy Smith, Aprio's vice president of marketing and sales.

At least one customer, Taiwanese solution provider ProMOS Technologies, has already selected Halo-Fix to repair LRC errors in their production environment, Aprio said.

Aprio touts Halo-Fix's ability to provide localized fixes to problem areas, avoiding repeated full-chip OPC runs that can potentially introduce new errors into the process and requires additional computational resources.

Until now, the company said, this approach was limited by the difficulty of taking into account the complex interactions between changes in the problem areas and the ring, or "halo," of neighboring polygons in the design. But Aprio says its Halo technology adjusts both the repaired data and the halo region to integrate the repaired data into the original post-OPC layout. Thus, the company said multiple, optimized OPC recipes are applied to all areas of the design, increasing the common process window for the entire design.

Aprio also said Halo-Fix enables more rapid and efficient "fab-line retargeting," transferring a design between fabs with multiple OPC models This retargeting capability also offers each fab line optimized OPC flows rather than a generic company-wide flow, Aprio said, which can be critical for reducing the impact of nuanced differentiation of equipment.

"Halo-Fix will enable ProMOS to increase the quality of our layout and reduce cycle time," said Snow Lee, deputy manager of ProMOS Technologies' device division, in a statement.

Time-based license packages for the Halo-Fix product start from $200,000 and are available immediately, the company said.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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