Current pattern generation tool designs will be inadequate to meet the advanced requirements for next-generation masks, particularly at the 100 nm node. Etec Systems, Inc. has developed a complete raster-based patterning solution to provide improved resolution, critical dimension (CD) uniformity, positional accuracy, and throughput. This solution meets the challenges of the 130-nm device generation with extendibility to at least 100 nm devices. Our complete patterning solution includes an electron-beam (e-beam) pattern generation system and a new 50 kV process. The e-beam system includes a column with 50 kV accelerating voltage and a new graybeam writing technique. To accomplish this technique, a pulse-width modulated blanking system, per-pixel deflection, retrograde scanning, and multiphase and multipass writing are used. This combination of features results in markedly improved lithographic performance and enables the use of conventional high-contrast resists for faster process implementation. Additional significant innovations of this pattern generation system include a novel stage design, an integrated automated material handling system (AMHS), on-board diagnostics, and improved environmental/thermal management. We believe this comprehensive patterning solution offers the best combination of benefits to the user in terms of versatility and extendibility.