The HDP2000 system provides IC lithography equipment with the ability to write or inspect a pattern in realtime from a hierachical database. The system eliminates the fracturing step in data preparation. The fracturing process is performed in realtime while writing or inspecting. The system can also independently scale and merge any number of HDP input patterns in realtime. This permits die and frame data to be composed naturally and written as a single unit.
Data preparation consists only of converting a GDSII stream format file to HDP (Hierarchical Data Path) format. Depending on the size and nature of the input file this conversion step typically takes only a few seconds or minutes and results in a file that is roughly the same size as the GDSII input file. In this single data preparation step, it is possible to convert ALL GDSII device layers and produce a single HDP file that includes all layers and can be used to write or inspect ALL layers. For other options see GDS2HDP.
Converting GDSII to HDP format is simple. In the case of a file containing a single device layer the only required input parameters are the GDSII file name and the root structure name. In more complex situations there may be a need to explicitly state which layers to convert and associate chip windows which each output layer.
The realtime system converts HDP files to Frame Format (FF). In the simplest case, the only parameters required for the conversion are the HDP file name, HDP layer name, and the configuration of the target machine. The configuration is described in a "Frame Machine Description File". The description includes such items as the layout and dimensions of fracture frames.
The conversion to Frame Format results in a stream of frames. Each frame contains the pattern data for a small rectangular region (with typical linear dimensions on the order of 10 to 100 microns). The rectangular region defined by a "chip size" is completely tiled over by the frames in the stream.
In more complicated scenarios multiple HDP files may be merged and scaled together. The system can also produce Frame Format files which can later be written by themselves or combined with other files.
The scenario just described assumes that portions of the HDP2000 system have been completely integrated into the lithography machine by the manufacture (Etec, KLA-Tencor, Applied Materials, etc..). How this is accomplished would be machine dependent, but the ideally, the HDP2000 realtime software would run on an embedded workstation and be invoked at the appropriate time to generate the frame stream. The frame stream would then be routed to the machine's pattern generator. The pattern generator software could be modified to accept Frame Format or a realtime conversion could be performed to the machine's native format on the workstation (the former is preferred).
The conversion to HDP format from GDSII could be performed either on the embedded workstation or offline ahead of time. If the conversion is performed on an embedded workstation then the machine gives the appearance of accepting GDSII as its native format.
The HDP2000 system can be used just for fracturing and pattern processing. In this application, the conversion from GDSII to HDP format proceeds as before. The conversion to Frame Format routes the output frame stream to a disk file (FF file). Because realtime timing constraints are removed, more elaborate pattern processing can be performed. In particular, the system provides the ability to do overlap removal, software reverse tone, and data compression . FF files can be used as inputs. For other options see Frame.
Backend conversion modules could be added to convert frame format to existing formats (such as MEBES, JEOL, etc..)
At this time, the fracturing performance of the HDP2000 system compared with alternatives (CATS) is not known. It is expected, however, that the results will be favorable (this is not, however, a promise).
Though there are no immediate plans to do so, various pattern processing functions such as polygon bias and outline bias could be added to the system.
The key programs in HDP2000 are GDS2HDP and Frame. However, there are a number of other programs included to facilitate troubleshooting.
The user interface and help system are written entirely in Java. The user interface will run without modification on any system that supports the Java 2 platform (Windows, Solaris, Linux, etc..).
All other programs (GDS2HDP, Frame, etc..) are all written in C++. They currently run on Windows and Solaris.