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WORLD'S FASTEST MANUFACTURING CYCLE TIME FOR AN INTEGRATED CIRCUIT DEMONSTRATED BY TEXAS INSTRUMENTS R & D LAB

 DALLAS, June 30 /PRNewswire/ -- If the electronics industry had an Olympics, Texas Instruments would have just won a gold medal. TI's semiconductor research and development lab recorded the world's fastest cycle time for manufacturing an integrated circuit, popularly known as a computer chip.
 Scientists in TI's Semiconductor Process and Design Center have demonstrated that it is technically feasible to manufacture an integrated circuit (IC) -- from raw silicon to fabricated chip -- in three days, a process that normally takes at least two or three weeks.
 "This is a revolutionary breakthrough for semiconductor manufacturing," said Dr. Robert Doering, director of the Microelectronics Manufacturing Science and Technology (MMST) program at TI.
 "We have processed wafers of advanced ICs in less than three days. We were able to achieve this fast cycle time by using single-wafer processing at all manufacturing steps. IC manufacturing traditionally has used many batch processes, which are inherently slower."
 Wafers are flat, mirror-like disks of polished silicon on which integrated circuits are fabricated. The traditional method of manufacturing ICs involves large numbers of wafers, or batches, processed together. While cost-effective for applications requiring large quantities of commodity ICs, batch processing is relatively less efficient for producing small volumes of prototype, custom or application specific chips.
 "This technology demonstration, which was part of the requirements for the final phase of the MMST program, shows that it is possible to run small volumes of ICs in extremely short cycle times," said Doering. "The industry has the opportunity to take advantage of that reduced cycle time in various ways.
 "One of the biggest advantages might be for rapid prototyping, even of commodity chips. A new chip design can be quickly fabricated and tested. Several iterations of design/fab/test are often required before a chip is ready for volume production.
 "Another potential opportunity is to provide electronic systems manufacturers with custom chips, perhaps even with custom processing, very quickly, so that they can more successfully differentiate their products from the competition," Doering explained.
 The chips fabricated in the manufacturing technology demonstration were logic and memory integrated circuits using a complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) process with double-level metal and feature sizes as small as 0.35 micrometers. Logic chips are used in systems to process information, while memory chips are used to store information.
 "We were able to accomplish this fast cycle time with the use of 100 percent single-wafer processing," explained Doering. "We used commercially available single-wafer equipment for about half of the processes, and developed our own equipment for the remainder."
 Several traditional types of equipment were either replaced or greatly modified to employ 100 percent, single-wafer processing. For example, furnace tubes were replaced with rapid thermal processing (RTP) modules. In a rapid thermal process, one wafer at a time is heated by a lamp in a cold-wall reactor rather than a large batch (up to 200) of wafers being heated in a hot-wall furnace tube.
 "Rapid thermal processing saves an enormous amount of time," explained Doering. "Instead of taking hours to process many wafers in a furnace, it only takes a few minutes to process a single wafer in RTP equipment since only that wafer, and not the whole reactor, plus many other wafers, is being heated to the process temperature. It's similar to comparing a microwave oven to a conventional oven."
 In addition, Doering and his team examined the wet processes used in IC manufacturing and replaced them with a combination of methods. In many cases, the wet processes were converted to dry processes, producing not only time savings, but also minimizing environmental impact. Dry technologies utilized in replacing the wet processes included both plasma and vapor phase chemistries. In steps that still required wet processing, new single-wafer equipment was used to speed up the processing as well as to improve the efficiency of chemical use.
 The manufacturing demonstration was completely controlled by a distributed, object-oriented, computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) software system. The MMST CIM system provided dynamic planning and scheduling of material movement as well as real-time process control and data collection for all operations in the prototype factory. Process and wafer-state data were obtained during processing from in-situ sensors rather than from the typical off-line measurement tools which also contribute significantly to conventional manufacturing cycle-times. The real-time process control was based on models of the processes and equipment. Tying the factory together via computers and integrated software brings the equivalent of a standard operating system to the factory floor.
 The manufacturing technology demonstration was performed to fulfill the technical requirements of the MMST program contract. The MMST program is a TI/Department of Defense initiative to develop next- generation semiconductor manufacturing capabilities. TI was awarded the MMST contract in 1988 by the U.S. Air Force and the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Phase I was completed by TI in late 1991 with the development and initial demonstration of next-generation semiconductor wafer fab tool prototypes. The latest demonstration completes the technical effort for Phase II.
 Texas Instruments Incorporated (NYSE: TXN), headquartered in Dallas, is a high-technology company with sales or manufacturing operations in more than 30 countries. TI products and services include semiconductors, defense electronics systems, software productivity tools, computers and peripheral products, custom engineering and manufacturing services, electrical controls, metallurgical materials, and consumer electronic products.
 -0- 6/30/93
 /NOTES TO EDITORS: Artwork is available upon request. Editorial background available upon request./
 /CONTACT: Sheree G. Fitzpatrick of Texas Instruments Incorporated, 214-995-2984/
 (TXN)


CO: Texas Instruments Incorporated ST: Texas IN: CPR SU:

MP -- NY027 -- 7089 06/30/93 11:01 EDT
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Date:Jun 30, 1993
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