As process controls tighten in the semiconductor industry, the need to understand the variables that determine system performance become more important. For plasma etch systems, process success depends on the control of key parameters such as: vacuum integrity, pressure, gas flows, and RF power. It is imperative to baseline, monitor, and control these variables. This paper presents an overview of the methods and tools used by Motorola BMC fabrication facility to characterize an Applied Materials polysilicon etcher. Tool performance data obtained from our traditional measurement techniques are limited in their scope and do not provide a complete picture of the ultimate tool performance. Presently the BMC traditional characterization tools provide a snapshot of the static operation of the equipment under test (EUT); however, complete evaluation of the dynamic performance cannot be monitored without the aid of specialized diagnostic equipment. To provide us with a complete system baseline evaluation of the polysilicon etcher, three diagnostic tools were utilized: Lucas Labs Vacuum Diagnostic System, Residual Gas Analyzer, and the ENI Voltage/Impedance Probe. The diagnostic methodology used to baseline and match key parameters of qualified production equipment has had an immense impact on other equipment characterization in the facility. It has resulted in reduced cycle time for new equipment introduction as well.