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Veldhoven, the Netherlands, March 13, 2001
KLA-Tencor Corp. (Nasdaq: KLAC) and ASML (Nasdaq: ASML) today introduced new analysis software options that enable chipmakers to automatically transfer overlay test data between KLA-Tencor 5000 series overlay metrology tools and ASML PAS 5500 series stepper and Step & Scan lithography tools. Jointly developed by the two companies, the new Metrology Data Interfaces package significantly reduces the non-productive time required to perform periodic maintenance on exposure tools to only a few minutes – resulting in increased tool productivity and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
"Maximizing the use of semiconductor equipment is critical to improving overall fab efficiency," stated Bill Arnold, chief scientist and head of ASML's US Technology Development Center. "The unique capabilities of the Metrology Data Interfaces have been beta tested on ASML scanners and KLA-Tencor overlay measurement tools in an advanced logic fab and helped this mutual customer to improve calibration productivity. Numerous customers of both companies have expressed strong interest in implementing the Metrology Data Interfaces to increase overall fab efficiency and return on investment."
Shrinking design rules are creating tighter lithography overlay budgets, which, in turn, demand tighter imaging and overlay control. Routine calibration and setup of the lithography exposure tool is an essential part of ensuring optimal imaging and overlay performance. Until now, this activity was done on the lithography tool, resulting in the loss of valuable exposure time. Using the new Metrology Data Interfaces, overlay test wafers that are exposed on an ASML tool can be measured on a KLA-Tencor overlay metrology tool. After the measurements are completed, the interfaces are used to re-import the raw data into the stepper or scanner. The exposure tool converts and models the data to determine whether any recalibration or adjustments are needed. This option enables metrology activities to be carried out off-line, thus freeing up time for the exposure tool to continue patterning wafers.
"Successfully co-developing the Metrology Data Interfaces required our two companies to build up a closer understanding of each other's tool characteristics," continued Arnold. "The collaboration between KLA-Tencor and ASML demonstrates how two industry leaders, working in partnership, can combine their core competencies to deliver greater value-added products and services to their mutual end-customers."
The Metrology Data Interfaces support all ASML PAS 5500 200 mm i-line, deep ultraviolet (DUV) and 193 nm steppers and Step & Scan systems, configured with software release 8.4 or higher. Likewise, the interfaces also support KLA-Tencor's Archer 10 and 5000 series overlay metrology tools.
"By partnering with an industry leader like ASML, we've been able to leverage the combined expertise of their leading-edge lithography systems with our proven process control technology," stated Scott Ashkenaz, vice president of strategic marketing for KLA-Tencor's Lithography Module Solutions Group. "This creates a more comprehensive solution for our mutual customers that enables them to better manage and control their lithography process, and minimize their yield loss."
ASML, founded in 1984, is a world leader in advanced lithography systems that are essential in the fabrication of integrated circuits. The company is publicly traded on both the Euronext Amsterdam N.V. and on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol 'ASML'.
KLA-Tencor is the world leader in yield management and process control solutions for semiconductor manufacturing and related industries. Headquartered in San Jose, California, the company has sales and service offices around the world. An S&P 500 company, KLA-Tencor is traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol KLAC. Additional information about the company is available on the Internet at www.kla-tencor.com.
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