Wafer Probe Station targets process nodes 45 nm and below.

Press Release Summary:

Based on 300 mm large-area microscope system with video and software navigation, Elite 300 includes PureLine II noise-reduction technology, and architectural design that ensures flatness and planarity, preventing probe needle shifting. It offers standard temperature range of -60 to 300°C, with 400°C thermal chuck option. For precise internal-node, sub-micron probing over temperature, Elite 300 has thermally matched components for mechanical stability.

Original Press Release:

Cascade Microtech Sets New Standard for 300mm Wafer Probing

Elite 300 yields new measurement capability vital for probing at 45nm and below

BEAVERTON, Ore., Jan. 7 / -- Cascade Microtech today introduced the next step in 300mm wafer probe stations designed to meet the worldwide need for advanced on-wafer measurements for semiconductor devices. Based on Cascade Microtech's industry-leading wafer probing products, the Elite 300 sets a new standard for extremely accurate and reliable 300mm wafer probing for devices with process nodes at 45nm and below. The Elite 300 solves the critical measurement challenges at each advancing technology node by incorporating state-of-the-art electrical and mechanical technology, advanced materials and leading-edge measurement techniques.

"As the market leader, our customers expect us to enable significant productivity gains as they migrate to 45nm process nodes and beyond. The Elite 300 platform is designed to lower process development costs and shorten time to market through superior electrical measurement capability," said Geoff Wild, chief executive officer, Cascade Microtech.

The Elite 300 offers end-to-end productivity improvements through its advanced ergonomic design, market-leading measurement capability and flexibility to be the wafer probing platform of choice now and in the future. Elite 300 applications include RF/DC device characterization and modeling, wafer-level reliability, IC failure analysis and design debug. By acquiring the advanced Elite 300 wafer probe station today, semiconductor manufacturers won't have to retool at each process node or lose business to competing foundries with more accurate test capabilities. The potential savings could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next three to five years and the next two to three process nodes, based on typical capital purchasing cycles in the semiconductor industry.

Problems arise when testing geometries at 45nm and below
Geometries at 45nm and below bring about new problems for wafer-level measurements. New process materials, lower operating voltages and increasingly complex IC designs require billions of dollars of investment in front-end processes and equipment. A reciprocal investment is required at the back-end for much more advanced probing stations to handle low noise environments, small pad probing, wide-range temperature testing, internal node probing and multi-site testing. The Elite 300 offers all of these advanced measurement capabilities with high throughput and high reliability to ensure confidence in data collected.

-- Low noise environment
At 45nm and below, the need to ensure lower operating and bias voltages, plus the use of new materials, has compounded the challenges of making accurate, low-level, on-wafer device measurements. When noise immunity requirements cannot be met for lower stimulus and measurement test levels, both external environmental noise and internal thermal chuck noise prevent critical measurements such as 1/f. Leveraging major technology improvements, the Elite 300 is the world's lowest-noise environment for ultra low-level noise measurements. With next generation PureLine II performance, Cascade Microtech's proprietary noise-reduction technology, the Elite 300 enables up to 10 times lower spectral noise and four times better AC noise.

-- Small pad probing
As test pad sizes scale down to 30 microns squared and below, obstacles such as thermal expansion, wafer flatness, planarity and stepping accuracy have made it difficult to accurately land probe needles on small pads with good contact during step-and-repeat wafer measurements. The Elite 300's architectural upgrades offer improved stepping accuracy, ensure flatness and planarity, and prevent probe needle shifting. The software automatically tracks wafer movement; an upward-looking camera system is included for advanced vertical probe cards.

-- Thermal measurements
Today, the demand for higher IC performance, quality and yield requires more thermal test data. As this trend grows, manufacturers must have probe stations that offer a much wider temperature range and higher throughput. The Elite 300 meets both of these needs. It offers the industry's widest standard temperature range (-60 C to 300 C) plus a 400 C thermal chuck option. For faster throughput, the Elite 300 has 25 percent faster transition times, ultra-steady probe and probe card mechanical stability that is critical for over-temperature measurements, an automated air management system, and wafer lift pins to enable high-temperature wafer loading/unloading to eliminate thermal cycling.

-- Internal node probing
Higher IC complexity (for example, DRAM and logic) and tighter circuit timing tolerances require more tests on more nodes to accurately verify a new design. For precise internal-node, sub-micron probing over temperature, the Elite 300 has thermally matched components for superior mechanical stability. With the new low-profile probe card holder, simultaneous probe card and high impedance node probing is easy. A new hands-free microscope bridge mount system, smart cabling, accessory shelves, and ergonomic armrests all ensure faster setup and easier navigation to, and within, test die.

-- Multi-site testing
A growing trend in wafer level reliability is the transition from in-package testing to on-wafer measurements. In-package reliability testing is not only costly, it adds weeks to development time. The Elite 300 enables effortless multi-site, wafer-level reliability testing with trustworthy, high-volume data collection. To accommodate the need for on-wafer reliability measurements, the Elite 300 enables easy setup, plus accurate, repeatable results for large- and small-area multi-site test configurations. Wafer flatness, system and probe card stability, plus compensation for thermal expansion are all addressed. A 300mm large-area microscope system, with video and software navigation, eases verification of large area and full-wafer needle contact. In addition, 400 C capability delivers more data, faster, for accelerated breakdown.

Configurations, pricing and availability
To meet a variety of market needs, the Elite 300 is available in three station models. The powerful Elite 300/AP features PureLine II, AttoGuard and MicroChamber technologies, with a premium package of automation tools. The Elite 300/M includes the MicroChamber, while the Elite 300/S features an open platen with safety enclosure.

The Elite 300 wafer probe stations are available for order immediately. Standard delivery is 12 weeks upon receipt of order. Pricing ranges from U.S. $80,000 to $400,000, depending on the model and configuration.

About Cascade Microtech
Cascade Microtech, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCD) is a worldwide leader in the precise electrical measurement and test of integrated circuits (ICs) and other small structures. For technology businesses and scientific institutions that need to evaluate small structures, Cascade Microtech delivers access to, and extraction of, electrical data from wafers, integrated circuits (ICs), IC packages, circuit boards and modules, MEMS, biological structures, electro-optic devices and more.

Cascade Microtech's leading-edge semiconductor production test consumables include unique probe cards and test sockets that reduce manufacturing costs of high-speed and high-density semiconductor chips. Information about Cascade Microtech can be found on the Web at www.cascademicrotech.com/.

CONTACT: Cali Sartor of Cascade Microtech, Inc., +1-503-601-1000, cali_sartor@cmicro.com

Web site: http://www.cascademicrotech.com/

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