Sentaurus: The Next Generation Integrated
   TCAD Simulation Tool Suite

Terry Ma, Director of Product Marketing for TCAD, Synopsys, explores some of the significant challenges facing IC process developers, which Sentaurus, Synopsys’ new integrated TCAD solution, will help to overcome.

Technology CAD (TCAD) uses computer simulations to develop and optimize semiconductor processing technologies and devices. Over the past two decades, TCAD has become a vital tool in developing new semiconductor technologies ranging from nanoscale microprocessors to high-voltage power devices. With the increase in compute power, TCAD is being used more and more efficiently to explore new device architectures and optimize process flows. In addition to the traditional use of TCAD for technology development, TCAD has been increasingly used in manufacturing. When leveraged to its full extent, TCAD can help ease a number of customer challenges in product development.

Rising Product Development Cost
According to the 2004 International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), TCAD can lower technology development costs up to 40% by reducing the number of experimental lots and shortening development time. This is significant considering the rising costs of product development and new wafer fabs that cost in excess of US$2.5 billion.

Increasing Technology Complexity
In addition to the rising costs of product development, each technology generation is driving towards higher performance and increased complexity. Process architects must wrestle to integrate new materials and device structures into the process, often resulting in new physical effects such as process-induced stress, statistical dopant fluctuations, spatial quantization, and non equilibrium transport. While in the past many of these effects could have been neglected, they are now primary considerations in developing a new process technology, thereby creating the need for sophisticated simulation tools that can efficiently point to the right paths for technology development. Without such tools, technology development would lack the physical insight to achieve the optimum process performance, affecting yield, and would need to rely on larger numbers of experimental wafers, impacting development cost and time-to-market.

Decreasing Product Lifecycle
Intense competition in the IC industry has shortened the product life cycle. From product conception to market introduction, the average lifetime is less than 18 months. In some cases, such as mobile communications, the market might completely disappear if a product is delayed by three months. Therefore, to be profitable, a new product not only must meet time-to-market constraints, but also must reach the target yield at the start of volume production. TCAD simulations, as a complement to experimental runs, provide a more comprehensive way to characterize technologies and to optimize their performance, thereby reducing the number of re-spins and delivering high-quality products at an early stage.

Shrinking Process Window
With scaled feature dimensions in the nanometer range, parametric variations become a dominant yield loss component. The transition to 90 nm technology proved to be extremely challenging, and it is expected to worsen at 65 nm and 45 nm. Beyond pure CMOS, bipolar-based technologies target ever-increasing analog and mixed-signal IC performance, with a strong impact on parametric yield. This trend has spurred the need for innovative advanced process control methodologies reliant on an improved understanding of the correlation between process variables and electrical device parameters. With its physical basis that is capable of capturing detailed process effects, calibrated TCAD flows can be used to generate computationally efficient process compact models (PCMs) that retain key process-to-device correlations. Using PCMs, manufacturing engineers can analyze process sensitivity, re-center a process, and identify key process steps to improve overall process capability indices and to implement advanced SPC for improved yield. This TCAD-for-Manufacturing paradigm effectively strengthens the connection between technology development and manufacturing, and it represents a novel approach to derive value from TCAD tools.

Introducing Sentaurus
Sentaurus is the new-generation TCAD simulation platform from Synopsys. It is designed to address the aforementioned challenges. Created by combining the best-in-class features from Synopsys and former ISE TCAD products, together with a wide range of new features and capabilities, the Sentaurus product suite sets a new standard in TCAD technology. Along with existing products such as TSUPREM-4, Medici, and Raphael, Sentaurus puts Synopsys customers in a unique position to address the challenges arising from future semiconductor technologies while maintaining continuity with their existing software installations.

Sentaurus includes a comprehensive suite of core TCAD products for multidimensional process, device, and system simulations, embedded into a powerful user interface. The application space of Sentaurus spans the complete range of semiconductor technologies, from deep-submicron logic, memory, and mixed signal to smart power, sensors, compound semiconductors, optoelectronics, and RF. The combined capabilities in the Sentaurus product suite enable customers to explore and optimize easily a broad spectrum of process and device alternatives, as well as provide powerful new concepts to improve parametric yield in manufacturing.

The comprehensive Sentaurus TCAD suite bridges the needs of development and manufacturing engineers by improving semiconductor process control in manufacturing. It includes 2-D and 3-D simulation products that can be used to optimize new technologies and explore a broad range of process and device alternatives, and provides a mechanism to improve parametric yield in manufacturing.

Sentaurus combines advanced, calibrated physical models, robust algorithms and numeric, and efficient meshing and structure editing capabilities to generate accurate and predictive simulation results for a broad range of applications including CMOS, bipolar, heterojunction, compound, power, memory, optoelectronics, analog/RF, and laser.

Figure 1
Figure 1: Sentaurus Workbench

The Sentaurus integrated TCAD solution includes tools for researchers to explore the physical limits of semiconductor processes and devices. It also helps technologists to optimize process and device performance, and enables process engineers to control process variability and increase product yield.

Figure 2
Figure 2: Technology Introduction Sequence

A number of companies have been using Synopsys’ Sentaurus TCAD products as a critical part of their technology development flow, including Toshiba and ST Microelectronics. The Sentaurus integrated TCAD solution resulted from the combination of features from Synopsys and ISE's TCAD simulation solutions following the company's acquisition of ISE in November 2004.

Sentaurus Features
  • Sentaurus Workbench, flexible framework environment with advanced visualization and programmability
  • Sentaurus Process, 2D/3D process simulator
  • Sentaurus Device, 2D/3D device simulator
  • Sentaurus Library, SIMS profiles and calibrated model parameters for the latest technologies
  • Sentaurus Structure Editor, 2D/3D device editor with process-emulation mode
  • Sentaurus TFM, Process Compact Model extractor and optimizer

Synopsys is the worldwide leading provider of physics-based TCAD simulation software and services that enable semiconductor companies to save time and resources during IC product development. Through the use of Synopsys TCAD simulation software and services, semiconductor companies can reduce product development cost and enhance process and device performance even before silicon is available. TCAD simulation results provide early feedback describing the impact of process and device design changes at any stage of the product development cycle. This can significantly improve device performance, parametric yield and cycle time.

About Terry Ma
Terry Ma is Director of Product Marketing for TCAD at Synopsys. Terry has over 20 years of experience in the semiconductor industry holding engineering and management positions in process, yield enhancement, device modeling, applications, marketing and product management. Terry holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

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©2007 Synopsys, Inc. Synopsys and the Synopsys logo are registered trademarks of Synopsys, Inc. All other company and product names mentioned herein may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners and should be treated as such.

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