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Agilent Technologies Reduces Endurance Test Time for Non-Volatile Memory Cells from Days to Hours


Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced new hardware and software capabilities for its B1500A Semiconductor Device Analyzer and EasyEXPERT software test shell, which reduce the time required for the testing and characterization of advanced non-volatile memory (NVM) cells and other next-generation semiconductor devices.

The B1500A with EasyEXPERT will support two new, fully integrated high-voltage semiconductor pulse generator unit (HV-SPGU) modules to meet the requirements of advanced NVM cell evaluation, making it the first instrument-based single-box NVM cell testing solution specifically for laboratory and research use.

Agilent now offers a complete range of pulse solutions for NVM cell evaluation, from laboratory use (using the B1500A) to production use (using the Agilent 4080, announced on April 2). Pulse modules with shared technology for both platforms ensure data reproducibility and a quick transition from development to production. These solutions have been created in collaboration with customers who are developing advanced NVM devices.

In addition, the Agilent B1500A’s EasyEXPERT software has been enhanced significantly and now supports quasi-static capacitance versus voltage (QSCV) measurement for characterization of low-leakage dielectric materials. The desktop version of EasyEXPERT also has been expanded to support the Agilent 4155B/C and 4156B/C Semiconductor Parameter Analyzers, providing users a unified instrument environment for parametric test.

Parametric characterization of NVM cell write/erase performance is necessary to ensure reliable operation over product lifetimes. For example, the latest flash-memory processes feature advanced technologies, such as charge trap flash (CTF) and multi-level cell (MLC) designs, as well as ever-smaller feature sizes. These advancements necessitate more precise evaluation of the NVM cell characteristics.

The Agilent B1500A meets the industry’s need for an instrument-based solution that supports modern NVM technology requirements, including MRAM, PRAM, RRAM, NAND and NOR Flash, such as support for voltages greater than 20 V and precise control over the pulse level, and leading and trailing edges. The B1500A with EasyEXPERT and the HV-SPGU is designed to allow users to complete endurance testing of NVM cells up to 10 times faster than with previous solutions.

“Agilent’s test and measurement solutions continually evolve to allow our customers to meet their next-generation evaluation challenges,” said Minoru Ebihara, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Hachioji Semiconductor Test Division. “The newly expanded capabilities of the Agilent B1500A and EasyEXPERT provide the functionality and performance required to evaluate a variety of the latest devices. Now our customers can control other Agilent semiconductor parameter analyzers from the familiar EasyEXPERT environment.”

New Hardware Modules for Testing Non-Volatile Memory and MOSFETs

The enhanced Agilent B1500A supports a HV-SPGU module and an advanced HV-SPGU to meet the requirements of advanced NVM cell evaluation. Each HV-SPGU has two channels per module, and up to five modules can be installed in the B1500A. Each module supports +/- 40 V output (80 V peak-to-peak) pulse capability, with rise and fall times of 20 ns and 2 mV pulse voltage resolution. In addition, the advanced HV-SPGU supports features such as complex waveform generation with easy programming, as well as three-level pulse and open-state pulse capability on each channel. The HV-SPGU’s industry-leading pulse level accuracy ensures reliable MLC memory evaluation.

Complete Single-Box Parametric Test Solution

The latest version of the award-winning EasyEXPERT software, EasyEXPERT 3.0 includes several new features to increase the B1500A’s parametric measurement capabilities, making it easy to conduct a full range of measurement types, from DC IV to QSCV to 5 MHz CV measurement, all with a single instrument. EasyEXPERT 3.0 supports QSCV measurement using the SMU resources on the B1500A. When used in conjunction with the B1500A multi-frequency capacitance measurement unit, which supports capacitance versus voltage (CV) measurement from 1 kHz to 5 MHz, the B1500A becomes the only instrument to offer CV measurement range coverage from QSCV to 5 MHz.

EasyEXPERT 3.0 software includes a Direct Control mode, which allows users to create application tests that can send Agilent FLEX commands directly to the B1500A from the EasyEXPERT user interface. This gives users access to all of the measurement capabilities of the B1500A, even those not directly available through the EasyEXPERT Classic Test mode.

EasyEXPERT 3.0 has also been enhanced to support fast parallel on-the-fly NBTI (negative bias temperature instability) testing. NBTI testing is a critical reliability test for modern semiconductor processes. Agilent is the first company to offer this capability in a single-box solution.

In June 2007, Agilent will offer a new version of its powerful desktop EasyEXPERT parametric instrument test software, which allows users to control the B1500A from an external PC, for free download. The Desktop EasyEXPERT 3.0 will also provide basic control of the Agilent 4155B, 4156B, 4155C, and 4156C Semiconductor Parameter Analyzers. This will allow current users of these instruments to gain the productivity benefits inherent in the EasyEXPERT test shell software and to create a unified instrument-based parametric test environment with the B1500A.

U.S. Pricing and Availability

EasyEXPERT 3.0 software will start shipping with the B1500A next month, with a downloadable version available for current B1500A users and the new version of Desktop EasyEXPERT available for free download. Agilent will begin accepting orders for the new HV-SPGU modules for the B1500 on July 1, and first shipments will occur in December. The HV-SPGU modules will range in price from $10,000 to $20,000.


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