Self-aligned contact (SAC) is required for 7 nm node to reduce susceptibility of contact-to-gate short failures. This requires forming a SAC cap on metal-recessed gate. The SAC cap formation is usually achieved by removing nitride on the field by planarization techniques such CMP (chemical mechanical polishing) or GCIB (gas cluster ion beam) processes. Significant gate stack height variation can be observed lot-to-lot and wafer-to-wafer due to accumulated variations from multiple steps, including several CMP steps, before the SAC cap module, especially during early research and development prior to full optimization of the steps before the SAC cap module. GCIB potentially offers a method by which the early development stage variation due to CMP steps can be reduced, allowing integration and device learning during the early stages of a program. This study shows a comparison of SAC cap formation by CMP only vs. GCIB with integrated metrology enabled location specific processing. By using GCIB with feed-forward scatterometry measurements taken from a 2D measurement pad we have been able to significantly improve both lot-to-lot and wafer-to-wafer variation on early development wafers. This has led to improvement in within wafer SAC cap thickness non-uniformity, wafer to wafer and lot to lot device yield for gate-contact over a CMP-only process flow.