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KLA-Tencor Announces New CIRCLTM Suite

MILPITAS, Calif., April 23, 2012 – Today KLA-Tencor Corporation (NASDAQ: KLAC), announced a new, high-throughput defect inspection / metrology / review system for leading-edge chip manufacturers: the CIRCLTM suite. Designed for operation in lithography, outgoing quality control (OQC) and other process modules, this new cluster tool monitors the front side, back side and edge of the wafer for defects and, in parallel, measures wafer edge profile, edge bead concentricity and macro overlay error. Data collection is governed by DirectedSamplingTM, an innovative approach that uses results from one measurement to trigger other types of measurements within the cluster as needed.

“Achieving yield and performance targets for advanced memory and logic devices requires very close monitoring of an exploding number of process parameters,” said Oreste Donzella, general manager of the SWIFT division at KLA-Tencor. “Our new CIRCL suite considers all wafer surfaces in parallel, taking the right set of measurements cost-efficiently. We believe that the power of the CIRCL lies in its ability to leverage several defect, inspection, metrology and review technologies in concert, to help our customers recognize and resolve excursions as they strike.”

The CIRCL suite incorporates a new generation of the industry-proven LDS front side macro defect inspection module; a new, modular edge inspection, profile and metrology module based on KLA-Tencor’s flagship VisEdgeTM technology; a dedicated wafer back side inspection module; and a flexible optical defect review and classification module. The CIRCL cluster can be configured to meet a fab’s particular process control needs. Its modular architecture reduces queue time and fab footprint and is designed to allow cost-effective upgrades as needed for strong return-on-investment performance now and over the platform’s lifetime.

The extensive capabilities of the CIRCL suite enable fab engineers to address a broad spectrum of yield and performance issues including:

  • Detection and binning of a wide range of macro defect types on the front side of the wafer, from particles, to defocus defects spanning several die, to full-wafer defects such as missing resist;
  • Low percentage of non-critical defectsallowing engineers to quickly and accurately disposition production material;
  • Reticle ID check, to verify that the correct reticle was used for printing;
  • Macro overlay error monitoring, to check layer-to-layer pattern registration;
  • Inspection for defects on the wafer back side, where particles and scratches can potentially affect printed pattern dimensions on the front side of the wafer;
  • Detection and binning of edge defects, which can migrate to the die area and cause yield loss;
  • Edge Bead Removal (EBR) metrology, for monitoring film concentricity and edge integrity to ward off possible delamination defects;
  • Calibrated, automated edge profile measurements, to identify excursions that can result in water bead leakage or film delamination during immersion lithography; and
  • Automated highresolution optical defect review and automated classification of front-side, back-side and edge defectshelping engineers identify the defect source quickly. 

The modules comprising the CIRCL suite can be matched to like modules in other CIRCL tools, to facilitate flexible routing of work in progress and to promote baseline stability. To maintain high performance and productivity, CIRCL cluster tools are backed by KLA-Tencor’s global, comprehensive service network.

CIRCL modules have been shipped to leading foundry, logic and memory chip manufacturers for use in advanced development and production lines. For more information on KLA-Tencor’s CIRCL cluster tools, please visit the product web pages at: http://www.kla-tencor.com/front-end-defect-inspection/CIRCL.html.

About KLA-Tencor:

KLA-Tencor Corporation, a leading provider of process control and yield management solutions, partners with customers around the world to develop state-of-the-art inspection and metrology technologies. These technologies serve the semiconductor, data storage, LED, photovoltaic, and other related nanoelectronics industries. With a portfolio of industry-standard products and a team of world-class engineers and scientists, the company has created superior solutions for its customers for more than 35 years. Headquartered in Milpitas, Calif., KLA-Tencor has dedicated customer operations and service centers around the world. Additional information may be found atwww.kla-tencor.com (KLAC-P).

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