Agilent teams with Cascade on wafer measurement

Tampa, FL. Agilent and Cascade Microtech today at the International Microwave Symposium announced a strategic alliance to provide fully configured and validated wafer-measurement capabilities. The alliance aims to streamline wafer-level semiconductor measurements while delivering guaranteed configuration, installation, and support.

Debbora Ahlgren, vice president of marketing for Cascade, said the market today is driven by the mobile consumer, with global mobile video being a key driver. Her comments reinforced the comments of Vida Ilderem, Intel Labs vice president and director of Integrated Computing Research (ICR), in her Monday evening keynote address.

Greg Peters, vice president and general of Agilent's Component Test Division, cited a continuing and insatiable demand for connectivity and data as driving the need for silicon that could be facilitated by the Agilent and Cascade alliance—particularly in the millimeter-wave (mmWave) area. He defined millimeter wave as being beyond 30 GHz, but noted that there is particular interest in the high 50- and 60-GHz ranges as well as beyond 100 GHz. There is simply not enough available data bandwidth at 2.4 and 5.7 GHz, he said.

Bringing the necessary silicon to market has proven challenging. Agilent, Peters said, spoke the language of electronic measurement, while Cascade spoke the language of mechanical probing. “We needed to come together to speak the same language,” he said.

Michael Burger, president and chief executive officer of Cascade Microtech, said that semiconductor process development, modeling and characterization tasks are evolving, time-to-market cycles are shrinking, and the need for greater accuracy is increasing. “By working with Agilent to provide guaranteed wafer-level measurement solutions,” he said, “we can now provide semiconductor engineers the tools they need to perform accurate and fast advanced DC and RF measurements on both components and devices to get their products to market on time.”

The new wafer-level measurement solutions combine Cascade Microtech’s wafer probe stations, probes and calibration tools with Agilent’s test instrumentation and measurement and analysis software. Each solution configuration is pre-validated to ensure it meets customers’ specific application needs, then validated again—based on previously agreed-upon acceptance criteria—after installation by Cascade Microtech solutions experts. Guaranteed configuration means that any parts missing from the configured solution will be provided by either Agilent or Cascade Microtech.

The companies said they have also collaborated to deliver workflow solutions software based on Agilent’s WaferPro-XP measurement software and Cascade’s Velox probe station software.

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