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Challenges, Opportunities In Advanced Process Control to be Addressed at 27th Annual U.S. APC Conference

James Moyne

Set for October 12-15 in Austin, Texas, the annual Advanced Process Control (APC) Conference in the United States continues to be a valuable resource for understanding the current and future APC challenges and solutions in microelectronics manufacturing.

For over 25 years the APC Conference has been a premier showcase for the latest APC innovations in microelectronics manufacturing. In the 90s, the first successes in run-to-run (R2R) control and fab-wide fault detection (FD) were presented here. In the 2000s, novel concepts related to virtual metrology and predictive maintenance were revealed. More recently, solutions for big data and predictive analytics tailored for microelectronics manufacturing have been presented along side the latest innovations for APC staple technologies like R2R control and FD. In the microelectronics industry, it is generally accepted that the APC Conference is the place to learn first about the next big advances in APC technologies.

Who, What, When, and Where? APC Conference XXVII 2015 will be held October 12-15 at the Austin Airport Hilton Hotel, and encompasses APC and related technologies including process control, fault detection and classification, predictive maintenance, virtual metrology, yield management, and new sensing and metrology techniques. The event is geared toward a wide range APC enthusiasts from the microelectronics industry:

  • APC technicians, field service engineers and technology experts looking to stay current with the state-of-the-art and find tips to make their APC solutions more manageable and effective
  • Fab managers and fab APC managers needing to learn and understand the APC capabilities they should have in their fabs today and in the near future
  • Tool and process technicians and managers—from microelectronics manufacturers to OEMs— who are looking to leverage APC capabilities for improved quality and throughput
  • APC novices wanting to quickly ramp up their understanding of APC technology and trends

The 2015 conference will begin with tutorials and a welcome reception on Monday, followed by technical presentations, including two keynotes, and poster presentations on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a technical APC Council Meeting on Thursday morning. The conference is underwritten by the Integrated Measurement Association (IMA), which has organized the event for the past four years. Conference platinum sponsors are Applied Materials, BISTel and Rudolph Technologies, with support also provided by Edwards, Inficon, Savigent Software, SC Solutions and Tokyo Electron.

Keynotes: Keynotes this year will be presented by a chip maker and an equipment supplier, both heavily involved in leveraging APC to get the most out of their process and production tools. Benjamin Eynon, Senior Director of Engineering Development at Samsung, Austin, will deliver a keynote entitled, "By All Means! Accelerating Wafer Fab Efficiencies Via Innovative APC and Data Analytics." Larry J. Smith, President of Tokyo Electron America, will deliver his keynote on the topic of "Integrated Patterning Solutions and the Need for Advanced Process Control."

Tutorials: In response to feedback from 2014 conference participants, the topics for this year’s tutorials were selected to provide a better understanding of big data in this industry and to offer strategies for more effective deployment of APC (e.g., R2R control and FD). Specifically, the first tutorial is entitled “Introduction to Big Data Architectures and Analytics.” The instructors are John Wilkerson and Dr. Jeremy Reynolds, both from Revolution Analytics, a Microsoft Company and leader in big data analysis techniques across many industries. The second tutorial is “Introduction to and Practical Application of APC.” The instructors, Dr. James Moyne from the University of Michigan and Applied Materials, and Dr. Scott Bushman from Applied Materials, collectively have over 40 years of APC development and deployment experience and over 15 APC technology-related patents.

Presentations: The presentations at the APC conference are selected based on a technical review of extended abstracts by a review committee. This year’s presentations illustrate the many facets of innovation currently taking place in the microelectronics manufacturing APC space. A number of presentations will cover novel approaches to data analysis modeling to improve capabilities ranging from fault detection through virtual metrology and predictive maintenance to yield analysis. Other presentations will focus on wait-time waste reduction, equipment health monitoring, new sensor technologies and systems, and advancements in APC standards and technology roadmaps. In addition, several practical APC implementation success stories will be presented. For example, Figure 1 from a presentation to be delivered by Paul Ewing of Applied Materials illustrates how combining data mining and process- and equipment knowledge with traditional FD techniques can lead to more effective FD—in this case, by reducing scrap. A complete listing of planned presentations can be found at www.APCconference.com.

Figure 1: An illustration of the use of data mining and equipment and process knowledge to improve on traditional FD. Here, traditional FD indicated sporadic faults, however there were still issues with downtime and yield (upper left). Data mining and analysis (right) revealed lift time excursions were more directly associated with the fault. Subsequent enhancement of FD (lower left) allows for more accurate detection of the fault and even a level of fault prediction, resulting in reduced faults, downtime and scrap.

The IMA-APC Council Meeting: In response to requests from APC leaders at previous APC Conferences and other meetings, the IMA established the IMA-APC Council, whose objective is to capture key current challenges facing microelectronics manufacturing APC users and implementers, and determine actions that can be taken to address these challenges from an industry perspective. The IMA membership will then focus resources to support or solicit support for these actions. Previous actions have included developing SEMI standards, impacting the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), and conducting surveys and workshops. This year’s IMA-APC Council meeting will focus on identifying challenges and potential solutions to facilitate adoption of big data and predictive technologies (such as fault detection limits management, predictive maintenance and virtual metrology) in fabs.

It’s In Austin! They say that everything’s bigger in Texas, and judging by the overwhelming response to this year’s APC Conference—from paper submissions and sponsorship, to early attendance sign-ups—they’re right! It’s clear that the microelectronics APC technology space is healthy and growing. This event is a great way to determine how to optimize your APC resources today and in the future, and to get your your engineers more engaged with the nano-manufacturing APC community. So register here, then come on down to Austin this October for some APC hospitality, Texas style.

For additional information contact Michael_D_Armacost@amat.com