Challenges in Quality Certification of I/O Libraries


Cooperation between manufacturing and other functional groups is critical to improve the success of new products. However, integrating operations and development methodologies is often challenging due to conflicting priorities and organizational structures. Improving the quality of product development and the transition to manufacturing is not a new venture. Organizations have been incorporating planning and continuous improvement to their product develop-ment initiatives for decades. This paper summarizes the experience of I/O libraries quality certification within Freescale Semiconductor and describes the certification flow developed by Corporate Quality and I/O Design teams.

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O. Semenov, D. Vasiounin and V. Spitsyn, "Challenges in Quality Certification of I/O Libraries," Circuits and Systems, Vol. 3 No. 4, 2012, pp. 300-306. doi: 10.4236/cs.2012.34042.

1. Introduction

The increased power consumption and higher clock frequency compromise ICs reliability and quality. More than ever, Quality has become a primary differentiator in the semiconductor industry, especially in the automotive and high performance microprocessor markets. It is important that each and every one of us understand the challenges and how to contribute to our Quality objectives.

Freescale’s goal of world-class quality demands that New Product Introductions (NPIs) are launched successfully in a robust and consistent manner. For each technology, the successful NPI requires that all elements of the technology to be brought up in a concerted manner. The Technology Certification Process (M0 (Maturity Level #0) → M1 (Maturity Level #1) → M2 (Maturity Level #2) → M3 (Maturity Level #3)) offers a method to establish interdependency of the constituent technologies and build in quality up front, thereby promoting risk-free NPI. The requirements for each constituent technology element must be met and maturity levels are granted through the review of detailed checklists generated after the silicon validation of IPs (Intellectual Property).

This paper is focused on the I/O libraries silicon validation steps that are required by the Technology Certification Process for M1, M2 and M3 maturity levels. The list of parameters of I/O cells that should be verified in silicon is common for all technologies. The provided examples are specified for cmos45soi (c45soi) I/O cells used in many Freescale products. The developed test structures are intended to measure the key parameters of I/O cells:

• Leakage current of IO cell.

• DC parameters.

• AC parameters.

• Latch-up testing (not used for SOI technologies).

• Qualification of ESD (electrostatic) protection for Human Body Model (HBM), Machine Model (MM) and Charge Device Model (CDM).

The paper is organized as follows: Section 2 presents an overview of Quality and Validation definitions. The description of concept of Technology Certification process and its major components are given in Section 3. In Section 4, the I/O test structures and measurement techniques are discussed. Section 5 deals with the resources allocation for measurements and cooperation with the test and silicon validation teams. Finally, the successful implementation of quality qualification flow and certification process for c45soi I/O libraries developed for Freescale products are presented in Section 6.

2. Quality and Validation Definitions

As the complexity of the design increases and the required time to market decreases, the need to integrate manufacturing with design becomes even more important. Integration and collaboration among development groups is suggested as one factor that improves the success of new products. Generally, a customer regards a product to be of high quality if the product is meeting their requirements at lowest possible cost. Quality can be expressed as the number of customer returns per million or Parts Per Million (PPM):

Or, in another view, quality is related to the population of faulty devices that escape detection at the supplier’s plant. The simplest Quality definition that frequently cited by Program Management is “Quality is consistently delivering products that meet customer requirements”. Verification, validation and certification are needed to confirm “meeting customer requirements”. Repeatable processes ensure “consistent” quality. Appropriate communication in the form of user documentation, training and application support, assist the supplier to deliver their products with a high quality.

When I/O team is tasked with development and delivery of a product, it needs to know how the product will be used and the success criteria before the defining what to develop. Prerequisites of successful development of any I/O library include a good requirements gathering, documentation and verification practices that address how to verify the product quality. I/O teams should put a strong emphasis on validation of all deliverables, both as standalone entities and in conjunction with other IP deliverables. The close cooperation with Corporate Quality team is absolutely needed.

3. Technology Certification Process for I/O Libraries

The term “Technology Certification” as used here includes all major elements required to execute an NPI I/Os, and goes well beyond the traditionally emphasized die processing and packaging aspects. The Technology Certification process determines the maturity/readiness of I/O library according to four maturity levels (M0, M1, M2, & M3), which are awarded after achieving the milestones consistent with the NPI flow from Planning, Prototype, Pilot and Production stages, respectively. These 4 levels (level 0 - 3) reflect the key milestones of readiness from “Technology Specification Defined” through “Ready for Product”. The requirements for the entire platform must be satisfied in order to achieve a given certification level for I/O library. Maturity levels are granted through the detailed checklists of intermediate deliverables that are reviewed across all functional areas. The typical checklists for I/O libraries are given below.

1) Maturity Level 0—Specification Defined

• Level 0 PDK (Process Development Kit) is available with required components for IP design and implementation.

• Statement of Work (SOW) is complete and under revision control. SOW signed by stakeholders.

• Silicon validation plan is in place.

• All flows and methods have been identified and are aligned with PDK supported tools list.

• Product groups define initial ESD requirements for products including I/O operating specs, voltage ranges, device configurations to be protected, ESD stresses required for qualification, and any special application requirements.

2) Maturity Level 1—Ready for Design

• PDK release has passed level 1 Milestone specification.

• I/O library design review sign-off (conformity to SOW specification).

• Front End (FE) and Back End (BE) view validation tests have been implemented in IP environment.

• I/O IP available for test vehicles (TV).

• ESD parameters are characterized based on test vehicles and results are available.

• DFM (Design for Manufacturing rules) score requirements are verified.

3) Maturity Level 2—Ready for Prototype

• PDK used for IP development reached M2.

• Actual silicon available for M2 validation with all critical parameters in the following range: typical ± 3 sigma.

• M2 Silicon Validation report completed (Test and Characterization report).

• For all I/O library specifications, actual results within CAD data for WCS (Worst-Case process corner) to BCS (Best-Case process corner) envelop.

• ESD validation report from TV complete and released by the ESD team, product group, and Quality organization (including F/A (Failure Analysis) results for failures).

4) Maturity Level 3—Ready for Product

• PDK used for IP development reached M3.

• Actual silicon available for M3 silicon validation with all critical parameters in the following range: targeted process corner ±3 sigma.

• ESD testing and qualification results available from NPI silicon and corrective actions identified on key issues.

• M3 Silicon Validation report completed.

Finally, the Technology Certification Process has a direct impact on reducing defects at customer site, customer quality incidents (CQI) return rate, reduce average CQI cycle time and reduce customer reported PPM.

4. I/O Test Structures and Measurement Techniques

The list of parameters of IO cells that should be verified in silicon is common for all technologies. However, the provided examples in this paper are mostly specified for c45soi IO cells. Test structures are intended to measure the following key parameters of IO cells library:

• Leakage current of IO cell.

• DC parameters.

• AC parameter.

• Latch-up testing (not used for SOI (Silicon-on-Insulator) technologies).

• Qualification of ESD protection for HBM, MM and CDM ESD stresses.

Figure 1 presents the test structures for c45soi LVCMOS I/O library validation, as an example. Similar test structures can be developed for other technologies based on the ESD Integration Guidelines/Rules specified by ESD team. It includes the following functional blocks:

1) The worst case of I/O segment (Pad1 - Pad5) with respect to ESD stress as shown in Figure 1, Segment 1. This I/O segment has a minimal number of distributed ESD clamps needed to discharge the required ESD current following the ESD integration rules.

2) I/O cell banks for leakage current measurements: (Pad1 - Pad5) and (Pad6 - Pad14) as shown in Figure 1 of Segment 1 and Segment 2, respectively.

In Figure 1, “Term”, “Clamp” and “Trigger” mean the Termination cell, I/O cell with ESD clamp and I/O cell with ESD trigger, respectively.

4.1. ESD testing

ESD protection should be typically sufficient for:

• Human Body Model (HBM)—2 kV.

• Machine Model (MM)—200 V.

• Charge Device Model (CDM)—500 V.

HBM/MM testing is performed in accordance with the ESD association specification:

• Each I/O pin should be stressed against each power supply pin and GND pin.

• Each power supply should be stressed with respect to other power supplies.

• Three repeated ESD zaps in sequence in ESD tester are required, and there should be at least a 300 ms interval between consecutive zaps. It is recommended to run the set of HBM zapping first and then run the set of MM zapping.

The worst case of I/O segment (Pad1 - Pad5) with respect to ESD stress is shown in Figure 1 (Segment 1).

Item #1 The ESD spec that should be used for ESD testing is the JEDEC standard [1-3].

Item #2 The ESD failure is determined as a significant difference in leakage current between before and after ESD stress on OVDD & IVDD power domains or input leakage current (Iih, Iil) on inputs of IO cells in Segment 1. The ESD failure is occurred if the leakage current difference is exceeded 1mA.

Item #3 The matrix of voltages for ESD testing that should be used is the following:

HBM: 500 V, 1000 V, 1500 V, 2000 V, 2500 V (positive and negative pulses).

CDM: 250 V, 350 V, 500 V, 550 V.

Figure 1. The test structures for c45soi LVCMOS I/O library validation.

MM: 100 V, 200 V, 250 V.

Item #4 Each of the above mentioned ESD stresses should be applied to each input pad (chip_pad) of I/O cell in I/O segments when GND pad is grounded.

For Segment #1, each of five input pins should be stressed with respect to grounded GND pad and floated OVDD & IVDD.

And, each of five input pins should be stressed with respect to grounded OVDD pad and floated GND & IVDD.

And, each of five input pins should be stressed with respect to grounded IVDD pad and floated GND & OVDD.

Three repeated ESD zaps are required for each test case.

The ESD procedure and pin grouping mentioned above is also defined in JEDEC spec. The pins that are not used in a particular ESD stress should be floated.

Note: It’s not necessary to repeat the ESD tests for Segment #2, which is used for leakage current measurements only.

Item #5 Power domain to power domain stresses within Segment 1 should be performed. It includes OVDD to VSS, IVDD to VSS and OVDD to IVDD ESD stresses.

Item #6 The segment to segment power domain ESD stressing is required. It should be OVDD of Segment 1 to OVDD of Segment 2 ESD stressing. It means that ESD stress is applied to OVDD of Segment 1 and OVDD of Segment 2 are grounded and vice versa.

4.2. Measurement of Leakage Current

Figure 1 shows the circuit that should be used for leakage current measurements of IO cell. “Term” cell is the ESD termination cell. This circuit consists on two segments. Segment 1 and Segment 2 should have separated OVDD and IVDD. All IO cells in these segments should be used in the same operating mode “input”, “output” or “tri-state”.

Measurements of leakage current are performed for OVDD and IVDD supplies.

Ileakage current (for one IO cell) = (Isegment 2 – Isegment1)/4

4.3. Measurement of DC Parameters

DC parameters include

• VOH and VOL.

• IOH and IOL.

• Tri-state input current.

Generally, DC parameters should be measured for 3 units (packaged chips) for all power supplies (OVDD ±10%) specified in Specification and three temperatures for each OVDD. The details are given in Table 1 for c45soi 49 μm pitch LVCMOS IO library or GPIO (General Purpose) IO library, as an example. Measurements should be performed for all process corners (Best, Typical, Worst) available from the Fab.

4.4. Measurement of AC Parameters

Generally, AC parameters for IO libraries are including the operating frequency or delay and Rise & Fall times.

4.4.1. Measurement of Ring Oscillator Frequency of IO Cells

The block diagram to measure the ring oscillator frequency of IO cells is shown in Figure 2. The ring oscillator includes twelve IO cells and nand2 cell. The first implementation of ring oscillator (top part) is placed inside of chip to eliminate the parasitic capacitances of wire bonding and packaging. The second implementation of ring oscillator (bottom part) is placed in the IO segment to estimate the impact of package parasitics. The signals “en_osc1” and “en_osc2” are the control signals to switch on/off the ring oscillators: ON (if en_osc<1:2> ='0') or OFF (if en_osc<1:2>='1').

Table 1. DC parameters for c45soi LVCMOS IO library.

Figure 2. Block diagram to measure frequency of ring oscillator for IO cells.

4.4.2. Measurement of Rise and Fall Times of IO cell

Generally, the Rise and Fall times should be measured for all OVDD and core voltages (IVDD) given in the Specification for IO Library at three temperatures and all process corners available from Fab.

Table 2 presents the example of Rise and Fall times requirement for 49 um pitch LVCMOS IO library. Rise and Fall time measurements should be performed at each OVDD & IVDD = 1 V for three temperatures 125˚C, 25˚C and –40˚C.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] JEDEC CDM, 2012.
[2] JEDEC HBM, 2012.
[3] JEDEC MM, 2012.
[4] JEDEC Latch-Up, 2012.

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