Improving Semiconductor Yield With Scan Diagnosis
Scan diagnosis is an established method for
identifying and locating semiconductor defects on devices that
fail manufacturing test and on field returns. Effectively
selecting the right devices for failure analysis is a challenge.
To address this challenge, some semiconductor manufacturers have
incorporated scan diagnosis into the yield analysis process.
In a diagnosis-driven yield analysis flow,
scan diagnosis is performed on a large number of the devices.
Statistical analysis of the diagnosis results is used to
identify the most probable cause of yield loss. Construction
analysis then is performed on select devices to confirm the
suspected root cause.
This flow eliminates the need for physical
fault localization and in-
creases the failure analysis success rate. To enable a
diagnosis-driven flow, advances in scan diagnosis techniques and
proper analysis of the diagnosis results are required.
Overview of Scan Diagnosis
Scan diagnosis helps identify the location
and classification of a defect based on the design description,
test patterns used to detect the failure, and data from failing
pins/cycles as shown in Figure 1. Scan diagnosis
leverages existing design-for-test structures in the design and
is based on automatic test pattern generation (ATPG) technology.
Accordingly, scan diagnosis can only be used to diagnose ATPG or
logic built-in self-test (BIST) patterns, not functional
patterns. The output of a diagnosis tool typically is a list of
suspects: the suspected locations and defect mechanisms for each
defect on each failed die.
Figure 1. Typical Inputs and Outputs for a Scan Diagnosis Tool
Diagnosis results typically are measured in
accuracy and resolution. A diagnosis result is accurate if the
actual defect is in the suspect list generated by the tool. The
resolution is determined by the number of suspects in the list
provided by the tool and the physical area covered by these
One factor affecting the accuracy and
resolution is the defect models used by the diagnosis tool.
Traditionally, such tools would rely on the stuck-at fault
model. If the actual defect did not behave as a stuck-at fault,
the results could consist of a relatively large suspect list
(low resolution) or a list that does not include the actual
defect (poor accuracy). Despite these limitations, diagnosis has
proven very useful in the failure analysis process.
Diagnosis Requirements for Yield Analysis
The accuracy and resolution of diagnosis
tools have improved over time, enabling faster defect
localization. However, when extending the use of diagnosis to
another area such as yield analysis, you must look at the
specific requirements for the particular application. Yield
analysis typically is done to accelerate yield ramp, determine
the cause of yield excursion, and improve mature yield.
A common goal in all these cases is to
identify the root cause of yield loss. This process involves
separating devices with systematic issues from those with random
defects and then locating the physical defect. The separation
process would be trivial if all devices with the same systematic
defect exhibited the same failure signature.
However, the underlying cause is likely to
manifest itself differently and in different locations for
different die. Just looking at the failure data from the tester
or even the location of the defect based on logic diagnosis is
not enough to identify die failing due to the same mechanism.
For instance, if a specific standard cell type has a problem
that makes it more likely to fail, one instantiation of this
cell may fail for one die and a different instantiation may fail
for a different die.
To fully leverage diagnosis in the yield
analysis process, the diagnosis tool must provide details that
truly enable separation of die by:
• Defect mechanism such as interconnect
bridge, open or stuck, cell-internal, at-speed.
• Physical location and features such as
metal layers and vias in the suspect area.
• Logic location.
• Failing patterns, scan chains, and scan
For diagnosis to be useful for yield
analysis, we need an expanded set of capabilities compared to
what is required for using diagnosis for failure analysis.
Expanding Diagnosis From Logic to Layout
Traditionally, scan diagnosis tools use the
logic representation of the design. It is possible to expand the
suspect classification. The challenge when doing this is to
maintain high diagnosis resolution. Based on just a gate-level
netlist, the best a tool can do is to look at which nets in the
design would logically explain the failure. For instance, a
certain failure may be logically explained by a bridge between
nets A and B or a bridge between C and D.
In reality, nets C and D may be located far
away from each other, and a bridge between these nets is not
possible. Furthermore, it is impossible to differentiate between
a bridge where only one net exhibits unexpected behavior and an
This challenge represents the key motivation
behind layout-aware diagnosis. In layout-aware diagnosis, a
layout representation of the design is used in addition to the
logic representation. This enables the tool to reduce the number
of false suspects from the list by eliminating bridge pairs that
are not within the line of sight.
Layout-aware diagnosis also can reduce the
suspect areas of open nets1 by analyzing the net
topology. As an example, consider the multiple fan-out net in
Figure 2. In this case, failures are observed on two of the
five sinks of the net, which would imply the existence of an
open somewhere on the net. By analyzing the net topology of the
passing vs. the failing nets, the tool can narrow down the
suspected defect area to the segment common for these two sinks.
Figure 2. Net Topology Analysis Example
The tool also can include the actual metal
layers and vias that are part of this segment. This makes it
possible, for instance, to identify a problem related to a
specific type of via, even if different die have defects in very
Accordingly, layout-aware diagnosis is vital
to yield analysis because it improves the diagnosis resolution
and adds additional classifications needed for effective yield
Diagnosis Goes Deeper
At 90 nm and beyond, a significant number of
manufacturing defects are inside the library cells themselves.
This is caused, in part, by the increasing use of custom cells
designed to deal with higher process variations.
The capability to differentiate between
defects in the interconnect (backend defects) and those internal
to the cells (front-end defects) is crucial to ensure that
failure analysis can be performed in a timely fashion. It also
provides useful cell statistics for yield analysis. This is
achieved through cell-internal diagnosis, which enables faster
defect localization for yield analysis and provides cell
statistics for yield learning.2 Other areas in which
diagnosis technology has improved include discovering defects
that affect both the functional logic and scan chains (compound
defects)3 and at-speed diagnosis.4
As a result of these improvements, a tool
such as Tessent™ Diagnosis can diagnose defects down to a logic
net and physical polygon, differentiate between defects internal
to the cells and the interconnect, and classify a range of
Implementing a Diagnosis-Driven Yield Analysis
Beyond the quality of results, there are
other areas in which the diagnosis requirements are unique to
yield analysis. When used for failure analysis, diagnosis
typically is run on a very small number of devices. Tool runtime
usually is not an issue, and it is acceptable to use dedicated
patterns rather than production test patterns for diagnosis. In
some cases, additional patterns based on the initial diagnosis
results may be used to further increase the diagnosis
For yield analysis, the situation is
different. In this case, diagnosis typically is done on hundreds
or thousands of devices. This is required to perform sound
statistical analysis. For that reason, diagnosis must be based
on the production test patterns rather than dedicated test
patterns to be effective. In addition to being compatible with
traditional scan patterns, this implies that diagnosis must work
in the presence of test-time reduction mechanisms such as scan
test compression and logic BIST.
Furthermore, it is important that
manufacturing test, data collection, and diagnosis are done in
such a way that the impact on test and processing time is kept
to a minimum. For instance, most semiconductor companies use a
combination of stuck-at and at-speed test patterns.
A majority of defects may fail both of these
pattern types, but diagnosing at-speed patterns typically is
more time-consuming than diagnosing stuck-at patterns.
Similarly, diagnosing scan-chain defects requires more fail data
and more processing time than diagnosing failures in the
functional circuitry. One particular defect mechanism may
manifest itself as chain failures in some devices and logic
failures in others. Even if the chain failures are ignored, the
defect mechanism still can be identified.
While diagnosis results typically improve
based on the amount of fail data used, research shows that
diagnosis remains accurate even with a relatively small amount
of fail data such as 256 cycles per die.5 By
optimizing the test flow for diagnosis, the impact on test cost
and overall resource requirements can be minimized.
Leveraging Diagnosis Results to Improve Yield
Diagnosis capabilities enable a volume scan
diagnosis flow and provide detailed information about the
failing die. To benefit from this information in yield analysis,
we must properly interpret these results. We need to understand
which devices fail due to systematic issues vs. random issues,
to know what the systematic issues are, and then to select
devices that best represent these systematic issues for failure
analysis. Separating devices into different categories is
particularly challenging when multiple systematic issues exist.
Wafer maps are one of the most useful tools
for visualizing defect distribution across a wafer. By looking
at a stacked wafer map, you can easily see if the majority of
the failing devices is located in a specific location of the
wafer or if one lot has a different defect distribution than
another. Traditional wafer maps only indicate which devices
fail, not why they fail.
The value of wafer maps can be extended by
basing them on scan diagnosis results and normalizing the actual
vs. expected data. For instance, a wafer map indicating all
devices failing may show a random distribution of die across the
In Figure 3, a wafer map from the
Tessent YieldInsight™ software tool shows failing die with a
very specific signature: defects diagnosed to be an open where
the diagnosed net segment includes single via4. The wafer is
divided into multiple radial zones, allowing us to compare the
amount of die with this particular type of defect in each zone.
Figure 3. Stacked Wafer Map for Die Diagnosed With Defect Segments Containing Single Via4
As can be seen from the wafer maps, the
concentration of die with this type of defect is highest in the
outermost zone. This also is illustrated in the graph to the
right. The thick bars show the number of die with defects that
include single via4 for each zone. The narrow bars represent the
expected number of failing devices. This expectation is based on
the number of total defects in each zone and the percentage of
failing die that include defects with single via4.
The expected number is different in each zone
because the total number of failing die varies in each zone. In
the outermost zone, the difference between the actual and
expected number of die with this type of defect is statistically
significant. The technique that automatically identifies the
zonal type and the failure signature that has significant
variance is called zonal analysis. It is one of several
normalization techniques that can be used to identify systematic
yield issues based on comparing actual vs. expected diagnosis
After a particular yield issue has been
identified, the next step in the process is to select a small
number of devices that best represent this issue for
construction analysis, which will verify the suspected root
cause. In the example in Figure 3, we would first select the 138
devices in the zone with the unexpected high concentration of
defects including single via4. This selection can be filtered
further by selecting devices with the best diagnosis results.
This is done by choosing the devices with the smallest number of
suspects. After selecting devices with a single suspect, you can
choose the die in a similar fashion with the highest diagnosis
score, which is where the tool has the highest confidence in the
For the selected devices, you can use the
combination of the specific diagnosis report, which would call
out a net segment, similar to that shown in Figure 2, and the
knowledge you gained from the statistical analysis, which in
this example indicated a problem in single via4. As a result of
this process, we know which devices to look at and exactly where
in these devices to look—a cross-section of a specific via on
When construction analysis, which is the
physical inspection of the suspected defect, confirms the
suspected cause, measures can be taken to correct the problem.
This could be a change in the manufacturing process, containment
by improving the test program to better target this specific
mechanism, or a design change followed by a re-spin.
By combining highly accurate volume scan
diagnosis with statistical analysis, engineers can implement a
more efficient yield-analysis flow. Applying yield analysis
based on volume scan diagnosis results that incorporate design
layout and failure data rather than relying on manufacturing
process data alone significantly reduces the time required to
recognize yield issues and determine their root causes.
1. Keim, M, "Layout-Aware Diagnosis of IC
Failures," IC Design and Verification Journal, January
2. Sharma, M., Cheng, W.-T., Tail, T.-P.,
Cheng, Y.S., Hsu, W., Chen, L., Reddy, S.M., and Mann, A.,
"Faster Defect Localization in Nanometer Technology Based on
Defective Cell Diagnosis," 2007 IEEE International Test
Conference, pp. 1-10.
3. Huang, Y., Hsu, W., Chen, Y.-S., Cheng,
W.-T., Guo, R., and Mann, A., "Diagnose Compound Scan Chain and
System Logic Defects," 2007 IEEE International Test
Conference, Paper 7.1.
4. Mehta, V. J., Marek-Sadowska, M., Tsai,
K.-H., and Rajski, J., "Timing Defect Diagnosis in Presence of
Crosstalk for Nanometer Technology," 2006 International Test
Conference, Paper 12.2.
5. Leininger, A., Muhmenthaler, P., Cheng,
W.-T., Tamarapalli, N., Yang, W., and Tsai, K.-H., "Compression
Mode Diagnosis Enables High-Volume Monitoring Diagnosis Flow,"
2005 IEEE International Test Conference, Paper 7.3.
About the Author
Geir Eide is a product marketing manager for
Silicon Test Solutions at Mentor Graphics, where he also has
been a development engineering manager and a technical marketing
engineer. Previously, he held an applications management
position at Teseda. Mr. Eide earned a B.S. and an M.S. in
electrical and computer engineering from the University of
California. Mentor Graphics, 8005 S.W. Boeckman Rd.,
Wilsonville, OR 97070, 503-685-7943, e-mail: