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Cascade Microtech Offers Industry’s First Fully Integrated Flicker Noise Measurement System

EDGE Flicker Noise Measurement System is Certified Accurate from 1Hz to 30 MHz

(PresseBox) (BEAVERTON, OREGON, ) With the cost of developing each new semiconductor manufacturing process node escalating dramatically and time to market pressures increasing, there is no longer room for error in measuring critical parameters such as flicker noise. Recognizing these market realities and their impact on semiconductor manufacturers, Cascade Microtech today introduced the EDGE Flicker Noise Measurement System, the only flicker noise measurement system that is certified to provide accurate measurements from 1Hz to 30 MHz.

In addition, the EDGE Flicker Noise Measurement System is the industry's only fully integrated measurement system. In contrast to traditional flicker noise measurement solutions, which are bolted-together systems comprising system elements from up to five different vendors, the EDGE Flicker Noise Measurement System is a true turn-key solution. Seamless integration of the wafer probe station, instruments, software and accessories is overlaid with unprecedented service and support in the form of site surveys, pre- and post-measurement optimization and continuing application support. The result is a worry-free, accurate flicker noise measurement.

"Flicker noise is a particularly intricate parameter to characterize. Having worked closely with Cascade Microtech on the first deployment of its EDGE Flicker Noise Measurement system, we can have confidence in the measurements this system produces," said Dr. Michael Cheng, senior director, device technology division at Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing. "This enables us to provide our customers with substantially more information on the devices' flicker noise performance, which is critical in the design of low-noise, high-performance circuits."

Why Flicker Matters

Flicker, or 1/f, noise occurs in all semiconductors and can compromise device performance by causing jitter or phase noise in communications devices, which results in high bit error rates. It can also cause random retention errors in flash memory or soft errors in SRAM. In fact, Flicker noise is such a problem for device developers that in 2003, the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors was revised to forecast increased minimum device operating voltage as geometries shrink. Flicker noise, a major contributor to device noise, is the gating barrier to reducing device operating voltages. Unfortunately, today's market pressures result in even less room for the types of performance degradation flicker noise can cause. For instance, higher serial data rates means less jitter margin, and the low standby power demanded by handhelds results in lower signal to noise ratios.

Flicker noise is characterized by a corner frequency beyond which other types of noise become dominant. Because extrinsic background noise often obscures the ultra-low noise frequency corner, measurement and extraction tasks are typically difficult to achieve with precision.

Ironically, such background noise is often introduced by the very systems attempting to measure flicker. Unlike Cascade Microtech's fully integrated EDGE Flicker Noise Measurement System, other flicker measurement solutions are bolted together from multiple instruments and probes from multiple vendors and are virtually impossible to imbue with the noise immunity a fully integrated system can attain.

Integrated Measurement System Approach

A turn-key, one-vendor system, the EDGE Flicker Noise Measurement System provides simple access to flicker noise data over the widest frequency range - up to 30 MHz - with the lowest background noise, typically less than 1.2nV/rtHz at 100 KHz and above. This wide frequency range and low background noise allows customers to increase device performance, command higher margins and reduce time to market.

Because it is fully integrated, the EDGE Flicker Noise Measurement System eliminates the need for custom fixturing or instrumentation. In addition, it has been designed to switch between flicker and DC measurements with push-button automation, providing both sets of measurements, over-temperature, in one system. This eliminates risky transfer of the wafer from one measurement station to another, and removes the risk of error associated with reconfiguring bolted-together solutions to change their functionality.

Service and Support

The EDGE Flicker Noise Measurement System comes with full support, both pre- and post-sale, and expert advice. This includes device and lab site evaluation, pre- and post-sale training and 100 hours of ongoing application and technical support for the complete system from one vendor.

Price and Availability

Cascade Microtech's EDGE Flicker Noise Management System is available immediately for $1.2 million.

Cascade Microtech GmbH

Cascade Microtech, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCD) is a worldwide leader in the precise electrical measurement and test of integrated circuits (ICs) and other small structures. For technology businesses and scientific institutions that need to evaluate small structures, Cascade Microtech delivers access to, and extraction of, electrical data from wafers, integrated circuits (ICs), IC packages, circuit boards and modules, MEMs, biological structures, electro-optic devices and more. Cascade Microtech s leading-edge semiconductor production test consumables include unique probe cards and test sockets that reduce manufacturing costs of high-speed and high-density semiconductor chips. Information about Cascade Microtech can be found on the Web at