Copy Exactly! (CE!) is a process technology manufacturing methodology devised by Intel used to transfer a process technology from the original laboratory development environment into a high-volume manufacturing environment. Copy Exactly! duplicates the exact manufacturing process at all levels in order to yield statistically similar outputs at all production lines. Copy Exactly! is designed to minimize discrepancies, improve transfer time, and reduce risk when ramping up a new process technology.
The cost of developing a technology node is very high and has been increasing with each generation for a long time. Following the successful development of a new node, it is transferred from the lab to high-volume manufacturing. During that time, it's important that the transfer occurs with as little quality issues as possible in order to prevent delays. Up until around the 1-micron, there was still room for various minor modifications that could be applied in order to improve the process. Since then, process technologies have increased significantly in complexity. This meant those minor modifications resulted in unforeseen problems which cause production start-up delays and inferior results. To that end, Intel introduced the Copy Exactly! a philosophy which they describe as.
"everything which might affect the process, or how it is run" will be copied, down to the finest detail, unless it is either physically impossible to do so, or there is an overwhelming competitive benefit to introducing a change.
Copy Exactly defines both physical and functional interchangeability.
- Physical - equivalent parts that can be installed or replaced without causing quality issues or interference
- Functional - equivalent parts in performance, durability, serviceability, strength, and operation safety characteristics
Copy Exactly specifies the full process down to the machines and parts that must be used at all fabrication plants in order to ensure consistency and quality across all lines. For changes and approval from a parts supplier, the first article must meet the specification is submitted for approval by Intel. Once approved, it is considered "locked in" and no further modifications are possible.
Once the Copy Exactly specifications are approved they are locked in and changes are no longer possible. This is also called a Process of Record (POR) or Process Qualification Program (PQP). POR must be audited yearly in order to ensure everything is current and no modifications were made which could result in quality issues.
- McDonald (1997)
- McDonald, C.J.. (1997). Copy EXACTLY! A paradigm shift in technology transfer method. 414 - 417. 10.1109/ASMC.1997.630771.
- Intel Quality System Handbook, December 2009