Brion, which is owned by Dutch lithography vendor ASML Holding NV, rolled out this week a new product, Tachyon SMO, which promises to enable full co-optimization of source and mask. According to the company, the product leverages proprietary illumination capabilities and scanner models from ASML to optimize the source simultaneously with all patterns on the mask.
Executives from Brion acknowledge that the prior generation of Tachyon focused on source illumination and the use of model-based OPC, but say the new product emphasizes co-optimization and that there technology is not dissimilar to the work being done by IBM and its ecosystem partners, including Mentor and photomask maker Toppan Printing.
Moris Kori, president and CEO of Luminescent, said via email that the statements made by Farrell and Albertalli did not accurately characterize his company's technology.
Kori said Luminescent's inverse lithography technology offers the ability to optimize mask patterns in conjunction with illumination patterns, resulting in a free-form, composite or parameterized geometry for the source along with a simultaneously optimized mask pattern including elaborate assist features integrated with main feature corrections.
The IBM-Mentor work uses algorithmic routines and a series of linear optimization capabilities to generate a custom illumination source and a reticle, according to Farrell and Albertalli.
"To create a customized illuminator with the mask that goes with it is quite a different proposition," said Albertalli.
Brion's SMO technology, including the Tachyon SMO and previous Tachyon products, is already in use at major logic and memory chipmakers worldwide, executives say. They emphasize Brion's ties with ASML, which they say give them insight into the parameters of lithography scanners needed to ensure manufacturability.
"What we are focusing our efforts on is having a manufacturable solution with our knowledge of ASML scanners," said Keith Gronlund, senior product marketing manager for Tachyon SMO.
Kori said six major chipmakers in Europe, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the U.S. are now using Luminescent's inverse lithography technology in production at 50-nm and/or in development down to 22-nm.
According to Brion, the accuracy of the AMSL scanner models ensures that the SMO output will transfer and image correctly on the scanner. Full-chip extension is performed through the generation of a process model in the standard Tachyon format for use in production OPC and verification, according to the company.
"There are many [SMO] concoctions," said Tom Pye, Brion's senior director of strategic marketing. "At the end of the day, you have to get to a solution that gets you to manufacture on the scanner. This tool does that."