March 06, 2006
Yield Analysis Automation - LogicVision
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Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor

by Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor
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In early February LogicVision announced the release of its SiVision product whose core technology came through the acquisition of SiVerion in late 2004. SiVision is a yield analysis solution which offers the new SmartPE component-based analysis model and scripting capabilities that allow users to automate and standardize their analysis processes. SmartPE comes with a set of pre-defined data handling, statistical analysis, visualization and reporting components that can be used with SiVision's scripting capabilities. SiVision is available as a hosted solution or as an enterprise license. I had an opportunity to discuss this product with Jaffer Hussain, VP of Product Marketing for
the SiVision product line.

Tell me a little bit the company.

LogicVision is a provider of yield learning solutions. We basically build software applications that help semiconductor vendors improve their time-to-market and time-to-yield which means to be able to get out to customers quicker, time to yield which is build these parts in volume faster, reduce test costs and improve the quality of silicon. We're a public company. We went public a few years ago. We have been around since the early 90s. We have three product lines that enable this yield learning solution to add value to customers. The first product is our embedded test product, ETCreate. It is a BIST or built in self test offering. The ETCreate technology inserts these minitesters or “eyes-in-the-die” as we call them into the silicon. The silicon is observable from the inside. The second product line is called ETAccess for easy access which links up with the testers to extract this information so that you can see inside the chip. The third product line is called SiVision. This basically looks at information, test and foundry information, across the range of manufacturing conditions, across the range of operating conditions, and across multiple dies, multiple wafers and multiple wafer lots to get the figures and to see how your product is performing in the bigger scheme of things and whether it is meeting the yield requirements. We have a pretty blue
chip list of customers including FreeScale, Intel, Agere, Matshusta, Microsystems, LSI Logic; a very large and diverse group of companies from the consumer, telecommunications, and just about any sector that does semiconductor design.

Editor: For calendar 2005 LogicVision had total revenue of $10.9 million, an increase of 7.8% from the $10.1 million in 2004. Net loss for year was nearly $10 million, compared to a net loss of $8.4 million in 2004.

A little bit of history on SiVision. SiVision came from an acquisition a little over a year ago of a company called SiVerion, Inc. which was located in Arizona. I was VP of Marketing for SiVerion. I came to LogicVision as part of that acquisition. I still run Marketing. The old SiVerion is now a business unit at LogicVision.

How long had SiVerion been in business?

Every one thinks the name is Siberian but it is SiVerion. That firm was incorporated three of four years ago around the 2002 timeframe. The founders of the company were running a consulting shop and then converted into a product practice with SiVerion. The technology goes back another five or six years to 1998.

How big a company was SiVerion at the time of the acquisition?

It was not a large company. It was a venture funded startup. It had roughly 10 people, primarily focusing on initial product development. It was in existence about two years when LogicVision acquired us.

How big is the SiVerion business unit now?

Pretty much the same size. As you can understand we have our whole extensive worldwide presence and support infrastructure from LogicVision. We have hired engineering people in the SiVerion unit. We do not need our own sales people. We use the breadth of the LogicVision channel.

Does LogicVision sell directly or through VARs or distributors? Is the sales model geographically dependent?

Exactly! It is geography dependent. It has its own sales in the US and a direct channel in Japan but the other regions around the world work through distributors.

Will you tell me about the SiVision product?

Let me come at it from the yield learning message. The reasons why LogicVision acquired us were to add more value and to address this yield learning need for the customer. I will explain what SiVision does in that context.

If you are a semiconductor vendor that is building silicon, the key requirement is to get the product to market on time, to be able to sample parts within the market window timeframe. The second requirement is to not only ship some parts but to do it cost effectively with the right yield so that you can actually make money from it. Obviously you are interested in what happens beyond that so you want quality to a strong component. You don't want to get the product out but have field returns which are extremely costly as you can imagine. What LogicVision does is the three product lines I have explained. Before the SiVision product came, LogicVision had the ETCreate technology that adds these BIST structures inside the chip. The ETAccess technology then gets the information out. That information was specific to a few devices. You didn't know what was happening across the manufacturing conditions, across multiple wafers and across multiple lots. That's where SiVision comes in. We can take and analyze all of this information across the different manufacturing and operating conditions in order to know how the silicon is performing in the greater scheme of things. What we are doing in terms of integrating the product really is combining the depth and the detailed information that ETCreate and ETAccess products create for a particular piece of silicon with the breath of
analysis that SiVision brings. This combination of depth versus breath offers the level of capability that is unmatched by any other solution. As you know there is a wall between design and manufacturing which all of these DFM startups and even some of the larger companies are attempting to bridge because at 90nm and less it is becoming a much bigger issue to guarantee a certain yield when you are going through the design process. It is that wall that our combined products will help bridge from reliability and time-to-market and time-to-yield points of view. Let me focus on the SiVision product.

This is basically post silicon analysis. We take test and foundry data. The tests are performed on the silicon at different stages of post silicon cycle, at the wafer stage, and at the packaged part stage. What you are trying to see is how this silicon is performing. You take a number of measurements that are indicative of that. Our typical users are product engineers. During what is called the characterization phase which is right after the first silicon becomes available the product engineers try to understand how this part is behaving with reference to what the design spec were. They build these test parts across the range of the manufacturing conditions so the process corners and they test them across the range of operating conditions. The operating conditions may be temperature or voltage, basically what the part is going to see in the real world. They capture a lot of data and then they try to make sense of that data in order to see how this part performing with respect to a particular process corner or to a particular operating condition. Then if there are any issues, how do I go and remove them to make sure that when I hit volume production, that I get the right yield and that this product works well in the marketplace? The second phase is when you go into volume production after you have done your ramp up. You have got to be watching these parts to be
able to quickly identify excursions in any parameters so that you can quickly fix them and get your yield back on track. The SiVision product takes all of the information, analyzes it, and helps users visualize it. What we have done which is very unique in this analyses phase is what we described in the press release, what we call SmartPE that stands for Product Engineering. So what this SmartPE does is add a totally new level of automation to the analysis procedure.

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-- Jack Horgan, Contributing Editor.


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