Press release

CEA-Leti and Silvaco Team Up on Yield-Prediction Project For Ultra-Low-Power Static Memories

Sponsored by Businesswire

Leti, a research institute of CEA-Tech, and Silvaco Inc., a leading
global provider of software, IP and services for designing chips and
electronic systems for semiconductor companies, today announced, during
the 56th Design Automation Conference (DAC) in Las Vegas, a
project to estimate and model the yield of ultra-low-voltage (ULV),
ultra-low-leakage (ULL) static random access memory (SRAM) used in
computing applications. Accurate yield prediction in the early stage of
the IC design cycle lowers manufacturing costs and improves quality.

Variability in manufacturing is highly detrimental to mass production
yield of silicon chips with large memories, such as embedded caches. The
Accelerated Simulation of Array for Yield Assessment (ASAYA) Project at
CEA-Leti aims to validate the estimates based on electrical SPICE
circuit simulations against silicon results after manufacturing. The
challenge is to assess whether low failure rates (in the order of one
failure in 1 billion) observed in simulation guarantee acceptable
production yields for SRAMs above the MB range. In the past, such
failures could be investigated successfully through classical Monte
Carlo-based electrical simulation of bitcells, which allowed estimations
with sufficient precision of the immunity margin against failures; or
through the quasi-Monte Carlo method, which consists in evaluating the
margin as a “number of sigmas,” assuming its distribution follows
Gauss’s law. Recent (2018) publications still report these methods,
showcasing that finer evaluations are difficult to work through, often
using in-house software, which cannot be generalized to cover all
required manufacturing process, voltage and temperature (PVT) conditions
for the end-user device.

The fail-detection and yield-estimation analysis at CEA-Leti will employ
Silvaco’s VarMan eXtreme Memory Analysis (XMA) tool. The project will
use extreme yield estimation (XYE) analysis to obtain failure rates and
yield estimation at the full memory-circuit level, and extreme fail
detection (XFD) analysis to investigate the PVT-dependent failure modes.
VarMan employs machine-learning and flow-optimization methods to enable
variability analysis of more than 6-sigma in a reasonable runtime.

“Setting up advanced methods is essential with emerging technologies
developed by CEA-Leti and the increase of memories’ needs. If a new
method allows characterizing memory designs more quickly at a given
condition of use, the entire characterization process that covers all
conditions is accelerated,” said Emmanuel Sabonnadiere, CEO of CEA-Leti.
“We therefore have a faster method to validate our memory with
confidence that it will work within the expected failure rate, which
will be compatible with the cost of production and market expectations.”

“For instance, the technological impact of the non-normality we have
seen might lead to unexpected failures in all cases where the product
operating conditions are pushed very close to the expected performance
limits,” he said, “in particular for memories in Internet of Things

The research team is analyzing a 256 Kb ULV/ULL SRAM designed by
CEA-Leti. Against current assumptions used in industry about yield and
variability, evidence of non-Gaussian margin distribution in some cases
has been found with the help of Silvaco VarMan. The project will feature
measurements of silicon dies processed in the 28nm Ultra-Thin Fully
Depleted Silicon on Insulator (UT-FDSOI) technology from
STMicroelectronics to assess the predictive power of VarMan XMA.

“Efficiently detecting failures and accurately estimating yield in SRAM
and other kinds of memory arrays are fundamental to the development of
reliable electronic devices,” said Firas Mohamed, VP/GM Machine Learning
& Flow Optimization Division at Silvaco. “Shrinking silicon geometries
and growing complexity are placing an even greater premium on fast
statistical analysis to capture and evaluate all the variability effects
found in nanometer-scale design. Building on past successes of CEA-Leti
and Silvaco’s collaboration, this project will provide technologists
with a powerful, high-accuracy predictive technology from Silvaco
validated by CEA-Leti’s physical silicon production. We are gratified
that CEA-Leti has chosen Silvaco and its trusted high-sigma-analysis
technology for this project.”

About CEA-Leti

CEA-Leti, a technology research institute at CEA, is a global leader
in miniaturization technologies enabling smart, energy-efficient and
secure solutions for industry. Founded in 1967, Leti pioneers
micro-& nanotechnologies, tailoring differentiating applicative
solutions for global companies, SMEs and startups. Leti tackles critical
challenges in healthcare, energy and digital migration. From sensors to
data processing and computing solutions, Leti’s multidisciplinary teams
deliver solid expertise, leveraging world-class pre-industrialization
facilities. With a staff of more than 1,900, a portfolio of 2,700
patents, 91,500 sq. ft. of cleanroom space and a clear IP policy,
the institute is based in Grenoble, France, and has offices in Silicon
Valley and Tokyo. Leti has launched 60 startups and is a member of the
Carnot Institutes network. Follow us on
and @CEA_Leti.

CEA Tech is the technology research branch of the French Alternative
Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), a key player in innovative
R&D, defence & security, nuclear energy, technological research for
industry and fundamental science, identified by Thomson Reuters as the
second most innovative research organization in the world. CEA Tech
leverages a unique innovation-driven culture and unrivalled expertise to
develop and disseminate new technologies for industry, helping to create
high-end products and provide a competitive edge.

About Silvaco

Silvaco Inc. is a leading EDA tools and semiconductor IP provider
used for process and device development for advanced semiconductors,
power IC, display and memory design. For over 30 years, Silvaco has
enabled its customers to develop next generation semiconductor products
in the shortest time with reduced cost. We are a technology company
outpacing the EDA industry by delivering innovative smart silicon
solutions to meet the world’s ever-growing demand for mobile intelligent
computing. The company is headquartered in Santa Clara, California and
has a global presence with offices located in North America, Europe,
Japan and Asia.