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Accelerating Electromigration Aging: Fast Failure Detection for Nanometer ICs


For practical testing and detection of electromigration (EM) induced failures in dual damascene copper interconnects, one critical issue is creating stressing conditions to induce the chip to fail exclusively under EM in a very short period of time so that EM sign-off and validation can be carried out efficiently. Existing acceleration techniques, which rely on increasing temperature and current densities beyond the known limits, also accelerate other reliability effects making it very difficult, if not impossible, to test EM in isolation. In this article, we propose novel EM wear-out acceleration techniques to address the aforementioned issue. First we show that multi-segment interconnects with reservoir and sink structures can be exploited to significantly speedup the EM wear-out process. Based on this observation, we propose three strategies to accelerate EM induced failure: reservoir-enhanced acceleration, sink-enhanced acceleration, and a hybrid method that combines both reservoir and sink structures. We then propose several configurable interconnect structures that exploit atomic reservoirs and sinks for accelerated EM testing. Such configurable interconnect structures are very flexible and can be used to achieve significant lifetime reductions at the cost of some routing resources. Using the proposed technique, EM testing can be carried out at nominal current densities, and at a much lower temperature compared to traditional testing methods. This is the most significant contribution of this work since, to our knowledge, this is the only method that allows EM testing to be performed in a controlled environment without the risk of invoking other reliability effects that are also accelerated by elevated temperature and current density. Simulation results show that, using the proposed method, we can reduce the EM lifetime of a chip from 10 years down to a few hours 10^5X acceleration under the 150C temperature limit, which is sufficient for practical EM testing of typical nanometer CMOS ICs.

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