At a Crossroads: Opportunities and Challenges of Advanced Analytics for Yield Improvement


When it comes to research and design, the semiconductor industry has a strong history of achieving transformational innovation by means of openness and knowledge-sharing. Since no single organization can bear the burden of the enormous expense involved in semiconductor research and design, industry-wide initiatives—even among traditional competitors—have paved the way for innovation that advances the entire industry.  

To achieve industry-wide advancements, the semiconductor industry has formed consortia, forums, and technology roadmaps and has even shared resources to build industry infrastructure.In fact, the semiconductor industry has such a long and strong history of open collaboration that it has been called “a trailblazer in pre-competitive collaboration” and is seen as a model for other industries to emulate.

However, outside of research and design, the semiconductor industry looks like many others. Semiconductor manufacturing is characterized by trade secrets, siloed and proprietary intelligence, and fierce competition. But is anybody actually winning 

More and more, chip manufacturers are focused on gaining process efficiencies through advanced analytics. While the need for greater efficiency isn’t new, its impact was newly highlighted during the pandemic, which brought with it an unprecedented global semiconductor shortage. Yet, even as the world cautiously emerges from the pandemic and related shortages, it’s apparent that chip manufacturers will continue to find themselves behind the curve as technology advances and demand continues to increase. Existing proprietary solutions for yield optimization will not generate the efficiency required to keep pace with ever-increasing worldwide demand for output and speed.

Yield optimization is a competitive advantage. So, it follows that the data and analytics tools chip manufacturers use to monitor and improve their processes are proprietary. There are so many monitoring and analytics solutionseach offering different functionality or focus and using proprietary code basesthat no single solution meets the needs of the entire industry, or even of a single fab. And since there is no integration among them, most chip manufacturers have to piece together multiple analytics solutions as well as develop their own in-house tools  to gather the intelligence they need

This lack of integration contributes to intelligence silos and massive inefficiencies for chip manufacturers across the globe. Isolated tools can help chip manufacturers achieve isolated productivity improvements. But what’s needed is a single end-to-end monitoring and analytics solution that’s easy to customize for each chip manufacturer’s unique operation and that could offer the efficiencies and integrations necessary to correlate data and insights across the entire production line. This is the sort of tool that would lead to the greatest process efficiencies and insights for improving uptime and yield. The ability to integrate insights across the production line could lead to innovations that would advance the entire industry. 

As technology evolves and manufacturing processes become more complex, bad yield due to process variability and contamination is becoming a greater problem for the global semiconductor industry. Increasing yield and uptime will require deeper insights from more advanced and more efficient analytics. These can only come with unprecedented changes to the way the semiconductor industry approaches data and analytics.

Download A New Framework: Opportunities of Open Access for Optimizing Yield in Semiconductor Manufacturing to read insights from semiconductor industry leaders at Honeywell, Polar Semiconductor, and more—and learn how open access could accelerate precision and yield optimization for the global semiconductor industry.