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Vita Controller Helps Users Get Even More From 200mm Producer Tools

Jeffrey Dietz and Florent Ducrot

Many users of Applied Materials 200mm Centura and Endura systems who have comprehensive service agreements are already realizing significant improvements thanks to Applied’s Vita controller, which enables implementation of advanced sensors and other capabilities (see Nanochip Express, April 2016 at

The Vita controller is a powerful embedded system that replaces a number of obsolete, performance-limiting components in the VME architecture, including the singleboard controller (SBC). It also upgrades other parts originally shipped with these legacy tools.

Vita controller retrofits, which are performed by Applied Materials service personnel, have led to substantial gains in performance, productivity, throughput, tool stability, system availability, and reduction of overall cost of ownership for customers’ manufacturing equipment.

Now, similar benefits are available to users of Applied Materials 200mm Producer tools when the system is combined with Applied’s advanced services and data analysis capabilities under a service agreement. The Vita controller provides higher resolution and data clarity, enabling unmatched Producer performance, with total recipe transparency and backward compatibility with the original software.

With high computational bandwidth and access to tool data at up to 10 Hz with no dropouts (see table 1), Vita enables users to fully implement a wide spectrum of advanced services available under Applied Materials service agreements. These include tool optimization, sophisticated process modeling, and tight integration with Applied’s fabwide automation and equipment engineering system (see figure 1).

Table 1. The table compares performance of 200mm Producer tools equipped with the original SBC versus those with the new Vita controller. The higher resolution and faster speed of the Vita system generates much better data, which can be used to increase tool performance.

Figure 1. Compared with the original SBC for 200mm Producer tools, the new Vita controller offers greater data resolution, enabling significant reductions in particles and greater uniformity in lot film thickness.

Vita for Producer

The Applied Materials 200mm Producer platform was introduced in 1998. Today, more than 1,000 of those tools are at work in fabs around the world providing a comprehensive portfolio of dielectric CVD thin-film solutions while meeting customers’ need for high productivity. The enduring popularity of this platform is evidenced by the still high demand for refurbished and new 200mm Producer systems.

Within Applied Global Services, the Equipment Products Group (EPG) is dedicated to ensuring that legacy platforms such as Applied Materials 200mm Producer tools continue to benefit from ongoing innovative equipment designs, many of which have evolved from newer 300mm tools. High-value upgrades based on state-of-the-art 300mm tool designs are released regularly, ensuring that Applied Materials tools can perform at the highest levels for many years to come.

Development of the Vita controller for Producer was initiated in 2015, and the new controller was fully released in January 2016. During months of beta testing at multiple customer sites, 200mm Producer tools equipped with the Vita controller demonstrated the same characteristic benefits seen now on more than 300 Vita-equipped Endura and Centura tools. These include significant throughput improvements (in excess of 2%), faster data sampling rates, improved data quality, and gains of up to 37% in the speed at which they are able to communicate with factory automation systems (see table 2).

Table 2. Significant performance advantages were demonstrated in beta tests by Applied 200mm Producer tools equipped with the new Vita controller.

All refurbished and new Applied Materials 200mm Producer systems shipping from the company’s Austin, Texas, manufacturing site are now equipped with the Vita system.

Service Collaborations for Better, Faster Results

The Vita controller makes it possible for Applied Materials to maximize the performance of legacy tools under service agreements and enables a faster return on investment (ROI) for customers.

Tools covered by Comprehensive Service Agreements receive the expertise of the company’s specialized TechEdge service engineers, who can help fully optimize their system’s capabilities (see figure 2). With the benefit of Applied’s latest diagnostic tools and with productivity models specifically designed for 200mm tools, TechEdge engineers provide customers with unmatched system experience and knowledge.

Figure 2. Applied’s TechEdge service engineer teams combine extensive analytical skills with deep process tool expertise and detailed knowledge of advanced production technologies to quickly and effectively troubleshoot tools with the Vita controller. These upgrades allow the tools to be optimized in ways that weren’t possible with the SBC, leading to higher productivity.

In fact, in the two years since Vita’s introduction, its computational bandwidth has allowed TechEdge engineers to leverage software-enabled univariate and multivariate analyses with legacy tools, a capability that was very limited or even impossible previously.

As a result, a multitude of difficult issues that occur with legacy tools and their processes can be uncovered and addressed quickly and effectively. These include arcing, excursion management, chamber/tool matching, throughput, recipe optimization, defect reduction and thickness uniformity, among others.

Applied Materials offers this unique combination of control technology and expertise so that users who want to optimize their legacy equipment cost-effectively can implement modern monitoring and control techniques, thereby improving yields, output and overall cost of ownership faster and to a greater degree than otherwise.

Customers have had such notable success with Vita controller retrofits that Applied Materials is working on further developing the system to extend its use to a broader array of legacy equipment.

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