The data volumes of individual files used in the manufacture of modern integrated circuits have become unmanageable using current data format specifications. A number of factors contribute to the problem: size, content and complexity of the designs are growing; the application of RET increases the vertex counts; complex data preparation flows post tape-out result in a large number of intermediate representations of the data and assembly steps are introduced for leveling critical parameters. Based on the choices for the mask making equipment the final result of the flow — the mask writer data — varies. While there is a continuous effort to improve the individual performance of the tools that handle the data, is has become apparent that enhancements to the entire flow are necessary to gain efficiency. Two ways are explored in the present study — the elimination of processing overhead and repeated execution of similar functions and the simplification of the data flow by reducing the number of formats involved. OASIS, the new stream format developed under the sponsorship of SEMI, has the necessary features to fullfill this role. The paper will describe the concept of OASIS as a common intermediate format in the mask data preparation flow and illustrate the benefits with experimental results. A concept for a common mask writer format based on OASIS will be proposed. It considers format dependencies for the mask writing performance for different type of mask writing equipment. Different implementation scenarios are discussed.

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