Advanced Failure Analysis Techniques For Pentium and Pentium Pro Microprocessors

This paper discusses the evolution of different Failure Analysis techniques from one generation of microprocessors to another. Failure analysis (FA) is one of the key competencies in Intel. It enables very rapid achievement of world class manufacturing standards, resulting in excellent microprocessor time-to-market performance.
According to Moore’s law, transistor count doubles as transistor dimensions are reduced in half every 18 months, allowing for more complex microprocessor architecture designs. For example the Intel486DX™ microprocessor had 1.2 million transistors while the Pentium® microprocessor contains 3.1 million transistors. With rapid technological advances such as more complex microprocessor architecture, an increasing number of interconnect layers, and flip-chip packaging technology for products like the Pentium® and Pentium® II microprocessors, conventional FA techniques, in use since the Intel386DX™ processor generation, are no longer effective. These conventional techniques require in-depth knowledge of the processor’s architecture, and they involve exhaustive e-beam probing work, which typically results in very long FA throughput times.
This paper provides insight into FA techniques that have been adopted at Intel. It discusses the evolution of software fault isolation techniques based on Design For Testability (DFT) features, and other special FA techniques.
In this paper, we will discuss these techniques and show how they are effectively used to produce fast FA support turnaround for both silicon debug and manufacturing. We will also review their technical merits and return on investment, as well as the cost of each technique to Intel. The main focus of this paper is electrical fault isolation techniques, as opposed to physical defect localization techniques such as liquid crystal analysis and emission microscopy.

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