PRI Automation and KLA-Tencor Team to Speed Yield Management and Process Control in 300 mm Fabs
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New Transport Solution Accelerates Process-to-Inspection/Metrology Tool Transfer Times- Reducing Fab Latency Up to 30 Percent

BILLERICA, Mass., and SAN JOSE, Calif., July 12, 2001 - PRI Automation, Inc. (Nasdaq: PRIA), and KLA-Tencor Corp. (Nasdaq: KLAC)-global leaders in factory automation and process control, respectively, for the semiconductor industry-today announced that they have engaged in an alliance designed to accelerate yield management and process control in 300 mm fabs worldwide. The result of the alliance is the new TransFab™ Metroliner system, which enables high speed, automated material transport between the process tools needed to manufacture chips and the metrology and inspection systems needed to rigorously control process results and boost manufacturing yields. The net benefit for global chipmakers is accelerated time-to-corrective action when processes or yields drift beyond acceptable performance parameters.

Officials from both companies report that despite the speed of today's advanced process, inspection and metrology systems, delays in material transport coupled with scheduling issues significantly affect overall tool productivity and process control cycle times in today's fabs. The improved intrabay automation provided by the TransFab Metroliner system can help eliminate this potential bottleneck-reducing transport overhead time by as much as 30 percent over traditional systems. Equally significant is the potential impact on process control efficiency, since customers can now achieve the cycle time benefits associated with integrated metrology and inspection solutions without sacrificing the sensitivity and flexibility available only through stand-alone systems.

"Our TransFab Metroliner leverages the core competencies of two leading capital equipment suppliers to address a critical aspect of semiconductor manufacturing," said Mitch Tyson, PRI's president and chief executive officer. "With its powerful combination of transport flexibility, FastPath™ routing logic, and ability to dynamically respond to priorities, TransFab Metroliner will streamline transport between the process tool and KLA-Tencor's metrology and inspection systems. This new capability will help both foundries and integrated device manufacturers accelerate the entire process control cycle, resulting in decreased manufacturing cycle times and improved fab productivity."

According to Dennis Fortino, group executive vice president at KLA-Tencor, the alliance with PRI is one of several innovative programs KLA-Tencor is undertaking to significantly speed yield learning and process control for chipmakers worldwide. "By dramatically reducing the transport time between the process tools and our inspection/metrology systems, we can reduce customers' time to results. Best of all, we can achieve nearly all of the cycle time benefits promised by integrated process control strategies without any of the pitfalls. So customers get the speed and sensitivity they need at the lowest possible cost of ownership," Fortino concluded.

TransFab Metroliner is the first solution to specifically target these concerns. For this application, PRI's TransFab unified material handling system has been optimized for use with KLA-Tencor's 300 mm inspection and metrology tools. The complete TransFab Metroliner system consists of PRI's AeroLoader ® III overhead transport vehicles and TransNet™ material control software, as well as KLA-Tencor's full line of 300 mm metrology and inspection systems.

The TransFab Metroliner Technology
At the heart of the TransFab Metroliner solution is PRI's AeroLoader OHT system. The AeroLoader provides tool-to-tool wafer and reticle delivery in highly automated 300 mm fabs. Another integral component of the TransFab Metroliner is PRI's TransNet material control software, which manages and tracks the movement of wafers throughout the TransFab network-making it easy for operators to know where their wafer lots are at any given moment. When TransFab Metroliner is coupled with PRI's Leverage ® for Scheduling software, the wafer inspection process can be highly optimized to meet changing production requirements. Leverage for Scheduling is a powerful planning software tool that is capable of scheduling and rescheduling shop floor resources in a matter of minutes. Taking data from the manufacturing execution system (MES), Leverage for Scheduling can determine which inspection tool is available for wafer or reticle inspection and identify the lot to be inspected by that tool. TransNet software then determines the optimal routing path on the TransFab network for those wafers or reticles to travel to the inspection tool.

The TransFab Metroliner is available now with PRI providing the transport systems and related software and KLA-Tencor providing the 300 mm inspection and metrology systems.


About PRI Automation: PRI Automation, Inc., headquartered in Billerica, Massachusetts, is a leading global supplier of advanced factory automation systems, software, and services that optimize the productivity of semiconductor and precision electronics manufacturers as well as OEM process tool manufacturers. PRI is the only company to provide a tightly integrated and flexible hardware and software solution that optimizes the flow of products, data, materials and resources throughout the production chain. The company has thousands of systems installed at approximately one hundred locations throughout the world. For more information, visit PRI online at www.pria.com


About KLA-Tencor: KLA-Tencor is the world leader in yield management and process control solutions for semiconductor manufacturing and related industries. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., the company has sales and service offices around the world. An S&P 500 company, KLA-Tencor is traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol KLAC.

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