Agilent Technologies Brings Parametric Test to New Market, Allows Manufacturers to Accelerate Yield Ramp-Up Phase

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Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced a new test solution that makes parametric test a viable option for the yield ramp-up phase for the first time by allowing users to test more structures in less time with greater throughput.

With the new Agilent N9201A, Agilent’s 4070 testers are the first production parametric testers to offer a per-channel SMU (source/monitor unit) architecture that supports up to 40 total SMUs, five times more SMUs than previously available in a single tester, for extremely fast characterisation of in-line array test structures. In addition to per-channel SMU architecture, the N9201A features an address generation function, allowing engineers to do advanced array matrix testing.

At 90 nanometers and below, the testing challenges have increased for semiconductor manufacturers who need to ramp up their production lines as quickly as possible. Higher throughput is needed to gather and analyse data quickly enough to be practical for use in the yield ramp-up phase, for either back-end of line (BEOL) testing or during in-line test. The Agilent N9201A’s ability to support up to 40 SMUs enables high throughput measurement of array test structures, which reduces the time engineers need to optimise the process parameters to maximise yields.

“Time-to-yield is becoming a more critical factor for business success at 90 nm process technology and below,” said Minoru Ebihara, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Hachioji Semiconductor Test Division. “High volume parametric data is needed to shorten the cycle time required to ramp up a wafer fab to full production. With the unprecedented measurement capabilities provided by the new N9201A, customers using the Agilent 4070 series testers can efficiently perform parametric test in this critical yield ramp-up phase.”

Array Matrix Testing

The many layers of metal interconnect and vias on 90 nanometre processes (and below) can be the source of significant yield degradation. Until now, it was not practical to test passive array matrices with a parametric tester due to long test times. The increased test speed and throughput enabled by the Agilent N9201A’s number of SMUs and parallel test capabilities make passive array matrix testing viable. The N9201A option allows users to test far larger amounts of test elements, such as resistor arrays and active matrix arrays, than was possible with previous solutions. With integrated address generation function and up to 40 per-channel SMUs, the N9201A option quickly and efficiently provides improved characterisation of the yield degradation of the wiring and vias at BEOL. The accurate voltage and current measurement capabilities of the SMUs provide a much higher level of accuracy and data than a simple open/short test can provide.


The Agilent N9201A Array Structure Parametric test option for the Agilent 4070 parametric test systems can be ordered now, with configurations from 8 to 40 SMUs.

A high-resolution image of Agilent’s N9201A Array Structure Parametric test option is available at
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