Semiconductors for Critical Applications

Ridgetop Group has been delivering pioneering products, tools, and services for the semiconductor industry since its inception. Our offerings can be characterized as supporting Functionality, Yield, and Reliability, and providing Engineering services. Together they are what we call Semiconductor FYRE™.

Functionality: Analog and Mixed-Signal Design Blocks

ADCRidgetop has developed many intellectual property (IP) blocks, implemented on different processes including TSMC, ON Semiconductor, IBM (now GlobalFoundries), and X-Fab. Our analog/mixed-signal (AMS) designs include ultra-low-power and ultra-high performance data converters, high efficiency power converters, and innovative battery/fuel-cell management circuits, as well as many of the sub-blocks that these circuits are built from. Some of our IP cores are radiation-hardened by design (RHBD) and/or by process (RHBP). Collectively these IP blocks comprise our InstaCell™ library.

Yield: Independent Die-Level Fab Process Monitoring Tools


nanoDFM™ Design Flow Using PDKChek™

Since its founding in 2000, Ridgetop has pioneered the design and introduction of sophisticated die-level test structures. These test structures are precisely calibrated for specific foundry processes.

Ridgetop’s nanoDFM™ technologies apply advanced and patented in situ test structures and iterative improvements. By providing performance metrics and electrical testing, useful lifetime is increased and yields improved. To do this, the most sensitive circuits must be identified as well as the mechanisms likely to have negative effects.

Ridgetop’s YieldMaxx™ tool provides visualization of the patented PDKChek™ die-level mismatch structures, so that you can easily identify and track:

  • VT mismatch
  • Ion mismatch
  • Resistance mismatch
  • Capacitance mismatch

Reliability: In Situ Monitoring and Device- and Chip-Level Measurements

Ridgetop’s Sentinel Silicon™ library includes precision measurement structures for monitoring the health of ICs that are deployed in their end application. These in situ “canary cells” can provide warning of damage and impending wear-out due to intrinsic, process-dependent factors or from external (radiation) effects. The Sentinel Silicon library includes cells for:

  • TDDB – Time-Dependent Dielectric Breakdown
  • HCI – Hot Carrier Damage
  • NBTI – Negative Bias Temperature Instability
  • Radiation Damage – RadCell Fox (Field Oxide) and RadCell VT (Threshold Voltage)
ProChek IMG_1444 box-nothing on top

ProChek platform

Ridgetop has also developed ProChek™, a compact system for characterizing the reliability of semiconductor devices at the process level. ProChek is so powerful that it can replace a rack full of traditional test-and-measurement instruments while shortening the time and reducing the cost of the test procedures. Like Sentinel Silicon, it can measure NBTI (or PBTI), TDDB, and HCI, as well as electromigration and stress migration. It is used by semiconductor foundries to qualify new processes or monitor existing ones, and by fabless IC vendors and ASIC houses to extract vital performance and reliability parameters that may vary slightly from lot to lot or across different device geometries. ProChek also supports characterization of degradation due to radiation, including “combined effects” testing whereby different degradation effects can be considered simultaneously. ProChek can be used for wafer-level reliability (WLR) or package-level reliability applications with existing test structures, or you can develop a special purpose “test coupon” that can further accelerate the test process through arrays of devices and built-in heaters on the test chip.

QD-1020-HCThe Q-Star Test™ line of precision current measurement instruments has been adopted at IC manufacturers around the world for production test and for engineering applications including debug, quality assurance, failure analysis, qualification, and characterization. Q-Star instruments operate faster than traditional ATE or lab instrumentation, and provide more accurate and repeatable results. They support standardized test methodologies, including IDDQ/ISSQ and IDDT, and easily integrate into any test application.

Engineering Services

Ridgetop uses industry-standard IC design tools, including a complete Cadence design flow as well as tools from Mentor, Silvaco, and Tanner. We have designed AMS circuitry down to the 45 nm process node using different processes. Ridgetop can leverage the pre-designed and characterized IP blocks and sub-blocks in the InstaCell library that can be used to accelerate the time-to-market for your systems, or we can develop a full-custom design. Ridgetop develops both conventional and radiation-hardened circuitry.

Ridgetop also offers test and other support services, including device- and IC-level characterization using our own products (e.g., ProChek and Q-Star Test) as well as other tools. We offer training and support for the products and technologies we supply.

Ridgetop serves both commercial and government customers. For the DOD, Ridgetop has been certified as a Trusted Category 1A Supplier under the DOD’s Trusted Foundry program and has access to frequent shuttle runs. Ridgetop is fully acquainted with the demanding requirements from the DOD, NASA, DOE and their prime contractors. Our specialty is in the design of analog/mixed-signal circuitry that may also have some radiation-hard performance requirements.

Ridgetop Group, Inc. is an AS9100C- and ISO9001:2008-compliant organization that provides advanced, high-performance designs to its customers. The designs provided by our organization have been diverse, including both PCB- and IC-based solutions. Some of the designs have been applied in very harsh aerospace environments.

Click here for more information on Ridgetop design services.

For more information about Ridgetop’s products and services for the semiconductor industry, see…

 Overviews & Catalogs

Related Pages

Selected Product Briefs

Selected White Papers and Application Notes

Links to conference presentations on this subject can be found in our Resource Library

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AN109: Ultra-Fast xBTI Reliability Tests with ProChek™
Addressing how ProChek can serve to gather bias temperature instability (BTI) data from test structures that are linked to a particular technology, this application note details how with the advent and deployment of nanotechnologies, and pushing the boundaries of existing technologies for specific analog applications, there is an increased need to understand, monitor, and control behavior resulting from bias temperature instability caused by exposure to long-term stress when the device is kept under certain operating conditions.
AN111: ProChek Hot Carrier Injection (HCI) Measurements for the ON Semiconductor ONC18 Process
As today’s microelectronic circuits are designed for high performance and long life in a wide range of applications, both IC develops and manufacturers must be aware of the inherent performance and reliability of the basic building block devices that are used in constructing the various analog, digital, and mixed-signal circuits to meet the needs of the market place. ProChek is a compact, self-contained test platform that replaces racks full of conventional test equipment, consisting of programmable test-and-measure resources that are employed to obtain the desired results.
ProChek™, A Comprehensive Fabrication Process Mismatch and Reliability Characterization Tool
Ridgetop Group Inc. has extensive experience in the design of mixed-signal components and reliability test structure designs for advanced technology microelectronics applications. This paper describes Ridgetop’s reliability evaluation capabilities and demonstrates how these capabilities uniquely support IC designers’ needs by providing information on ProChek, the comprehensive process mismatch and reliability characterization tool for advanced transistor technologies.
AN105 Flip-Chip Interconnection Integrity Testing Solutions
Providing a flip-chip solution overview for interconnection reliability problems, including test application considerations, Flip-chip refers to a packaging technique for interconnecting semiconductor devices, such as IC chips and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), wherein the active (top) area of the chip faces downward and any part of its surface areas can be used for interconnection. Flip-chips enable a larger number of interconnects in shorter distance than conventional wire-bond chips.
In-situ Sensors for Product Reliability Monitoring
The advantages of predicting reliability include providing advance warning signs of failure as well as reducing the life cycle costs through the reduction of inspections and unscheduled maintenance of critical equipment. However, predictions can be inaccurate if they do not account for the actual environments that the product is subjected to in its life cycle, so Ridgetop has developed an in-situ sensor (prognostic monitor) approach which can be used to estimate the accumulated damage and the RUL of semiconductor devices.
Prognostic Techniques for Semiconductor Failure Modes
As semiconductor reliability issues begin to emerge as major impediments to long term reliability of critical systems such as Internet routers, ATM machines, and automotive and aerospace fly-by-wire systems, this paper surveys the problems involved, and recommends a methodology for the inclusion of pre-calibrated prognostic cells that can be co-located with a host circuit to provide an “early warning” of system failure, allowing for appropriate corrective action to be taken.
A Low-Power Sensor Design, SJ Monitoring 24x7 the Health of BGA Solder Joints
Ridgetop introduces a low-power sensor design, SJ Monitor™, which uses innovative circuit design on an IC chip in-situ on an FPGA’s board to provide a method to monitor 8 I/O pins 24x7 for solder-joint faults and which uses less than 5.0 mW. SJ Monitor is able to detect all solder joint faults of at least 100Ω (sensitivity) that last at least as long as 15 ns (resolution)—with no false alarms. The complementary form of SJ Monitor™ can be used to monitor the pins of powered-off FPGAs.

Links to conference presentations on this subject can be found in our Resource Library