Imec, Coventor expand collaboration to optimize 7 nm semiconductor manufacturing processes

  • Joint development team leverages SEMulator3D to explore semiconductor process variation issues at unprecedented levels 
  • Collaboration team has conducted a massive computer modeling simulation of a million wafers to explore process variability in 7nm BEOL semiconductor fabrication
  • The extending collaboration aims to further advance the availability, yield and cost of manufacturing processes for the next generation of 7 nm semiconductor products

Leuven, Belgium & Cary, North Carolina, United States - December 7, 2015 - Imec, a world-leading nanoelectronics research center and Coventor, a leading supplier of semiconductor process development tools, today announced the expansion of a joint development project to explore process variation issues in 7nm semiconductor technology.  

For over a year, the joint team has been using Coventor’s semiconductor process modeling platform, SEMulator3D®, to perform predictive modeling of semiconductor fabrication processes and to proactively analyze process variation issues in 7nm semiconductor technology.  The collaboration has now been expanded beyond logic-only devices to include 3D NAND Flash, STT-MRAM, and other device types.

“Leveraging Coventor’s technical expertise and its SEMulator3D platform has enabled us to solve real-world semiconductor integration and processing problems at the 7nm node,” said An Steegen, senior vice president of process technology at imec.   “Our joint collaboration is helping the entire semiconductor industry lower the risks associated with moving to the latest process technologies by providing customers with proven, tested process development platforms and advancing the availability, yield and cost of next-generation semiconductor technology.”

A highlight of the collaboration has been a massive process simulation experiment to explore the effect of process variability in 7nm BEOL (back end of line) fabrication processes.   Researchers used SEMulator3D to simulate an entire window of process variability, which would have required more than one million actual semiconductor wafers if conventional testing methods were used. This experiment was made possible by the robust virtual fabrication environment of SEMulator3D using a fully codified 7nm process flow, along with the ability to support parallel distributed computing and a novel algorithm for submitting variation cases to the simulator.  With these powerful tools, the team was able to produce key findings that will help advance 7nm semiconductor technology.

“We have worked with imec to accelerate the state of the art in semiconductor process technology useful in a broad range of next-generation devices such as Logic, 3D NAND Flash, STT-MRAM, and others," said David Fried, Chief Technical Officer at Coventor. “By providing our customers with a comprehensive virtual fabrication environment, plus our combined expertise, Coventor and imec are reducing the time and cost associated with moving to these emerging semiconductor nodes.”

About SEMulator3D

The SEMulator3D® platform is an integrated set of modeling tools to interactively simulate a wide range of semiconductor processes, and subsequently avoid time-consuming and expensive silicon fabrication and testing.  The latest release of the SEMulator3D® platform (Version 5.1) includes many new features, including new process capabilities like DSA process modeling, new automation features such as edge placement error metrology, support for distributed computing clusters and expanded layout capabilities. 

About imec

Imec performs world-leading research in nanoelectronics.  Imec leverages its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its global partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy. Imec delivers industry-relevant technology solutions. In a unique high-tech environment, its international top talent is committed to providing the building blocks for a better life in a sustainable society. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, India and Japan. Its staff of about 2,300 people includes almost 700 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2014, imec's revenue (P&L) totaled 363 million euro. Further information on imec can be found at Stay up to date about what’s happening at imec with the monthly imec magazine, available for tablets and smartphones (as an app for  iOS and  Android), or via the website

About Coventor

Coventor, Inc. is the market leader in advanced solutions for developing semiconductor process technology, as well as micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS). Coventor serves a worldwide customer base of integrated device manufacturers, memory suppliers, fabless design houses, independent foundries, and R&D organizations. Its SEMulator3D modeling and analysis platform is used for fast and accurate ‘virtual fabrication’ of advanced manufacturing processes, allowing engineers to understand manufacturing effects early in the development process and reduce time-consuming and costly silicon learning cycles. Its MEMS design solutions are used to develop MEMS-based products for automotive, aerospace, industrial, defense, and consumer electronics applications, including smart phones, tablets, and gaming systems. The company is headquartered in Cary, North Carolina and has offices in California’s Silicon Valley, Waltham, Massachusetts, and Paris, France. More information is available at


Jack Lapidas
Coventor, Inc.

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