One company familiar to the design and yield communities in the chipmaking realm, Magma Design Automation, announced earlier this week that it is developing a new solar-specific software system based on its proven YieldManager platform. The San Jose-based firm is working with systems integrator Pegasus Semiconductor-Solar to "refine product specifications and test the new product," which will aid PV cellmakers in their quest to, as the press release noted, "better monitor all metrology, inspection, and performance data throughout the manufacturing process. This would enable fab operators to identify and correct root causes of solar-efficiency and yield degradation caused by subtle fab processing fluctuations or instability."
"Semiconductor manufacturing tools such as rapid fault detection,
advanced process control, and integrated yield management--which
enabled rapid technology introductions and fast yield ramps--are now
critically needed in the solar industry to reduce costs," explained
Pegasus president Sudhindra Tatti in a statement. "To keep up with the
overwhelming demand, innovation in the solar fabrication process must
be accelerated, and no enterprisewide yield enhancement software exists
for solar fabs."
Ankush Oberai, VP of Magma's failure analysis business unit, is working as the company's point man for what he calls the "solar-targeting YieldManager product." In an interview conducted via email, he told me that they "started working in this market segment in third-quarter 2007 and on the product planning in first-quarter 2008." Magma is "in the design stages of the product and plan to have version 1.0 of the product commercially available in first-quarter 2009."