What is critical area analysis and why should I care?

By Design With Calibre

By Simon Favre – Mentor, A Siemens Business

Have you ever wondered what critical area analysis can do for you? Time to find out, don’t you think? Here’s what you need to know…

What makes money in the semiconductor industry? A killer IC design? Something so innovative that it blows away all the competition? Sure…but only if you can get it to the market in sufficient quantities. If your design isn’t successful in manufacturing, it doesn’t matter how great the functionality is. Yield is the cornerstone of market success, and critical area analysis (CAA) can directly improve the manufacturability (and profitability) of your IC designs.

CAA is an analytical tool that lets designers and foundry engineers determine (before actual manufacturing starts) if any given design is likely to have yield problems in manufacturing caused by layout-dependent effects—geometries in a particular configuration that create a susceptibility to manufacturing defects. That means, in simpler words, opens and shorts. Other physical failure points, such as via and contact failures, can also be incorporated into the CAA process.

How does CAA work? Foundries keep tabs on the number of physical failures associated with their manufacturing processes, so they can adjust and improve their processes to reduce their occurrence. They also provide this defect density data to EDA companies, who incorporate it into CAA tools that are used by design engineers to check their designs for potential trouble spots and adjust their layouts as needed.

Couldn’t get enough of statistics in college? Get a more detailed explanation of how CAA works in our white paper, Getting started with critical area analysis Hated statistics? Download it anyway—it has lots of words and pictures, too. Understanding CAA can help you make those final design changes with confidence.


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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at