As the feature sizes of LSI become smaller, the increase in mask manufacturing time (TAT) and cost is becoming critical
and posing challenges to the mask industry and device manufacturers. In May 2006, ASET Mask D2I launched a 4-year
program for the reduction in mask manufacturing TAT and cost, and the program was completed in March 2010. The
focus of the program was on the design and implementation of a synergetic strategy involving concurrent optimization of
MDP, mask writing, and mask inspection. The strategy was based upon four key elements: a) common data format, b)
pattern prioritization based on design intent, c) an improved approach in the use of repeating patterns, and d) parallel
processing. In the program, various software and hardware tools were developed to realize the concurrent optimization.
After evaluating the effectiveness of each item, we estimated the reduction in mask manufacturing TAT and cost by the
application of results obtained from the Mask D2I programs. We found that mask manufacturing TAT and cost can be
reduced to 50% (or less) and to about 60% respectively.