Steady-State Throughput and Scheduling Analysis of Multicluster Tools: A Decomposition Approach
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Cluster tools are widely used as semiconductor manufacturing equipment. While throughput analysis and scheduling of single-cluster tools have been well-studied, research work on multicluster tools is still at an early stage. In this paper, we analyze steady-state throughput and scheduling of multicluster tools. We consider the case where all wafers follow the same visit flow within a multicluster tool. We propose a decomposition method that reduces a multicluster tool problem to multiple independent single-cluster tool problems. We then apply the existing and extended results of throughput and scheduling analysis for each single-cluster tool. Computation of lower-bound cycle time (fundamental period) is presented. Optimality conditions and robot schedules that realize such lower-bound values are then provided using pull and swap strategies for single-blade and double-blade robots, respectively. For an $M$-cluster tool, we present $O(M)$ lower-bound cycle time computation and robot scheduling algorithms. The impact of buffer/process modules on throughput and robot schedules is also studied. A chemical vapor deposition tool is used as an example of multicluster tools to illustrate the decomposition method and algorithms. The numerical and experimental results demonstrate that the proposed decomposition approach provides a powerful method to analyze the throughput and robot schedules of multicluster tools. 2006 IEEE.