Semiconductor Industry News, Trends, and Technology, and SEMI Standards Updates


Brian Rubow: Director of Client Training and Support

Brian Rubow is the Director of Client Training and Support for Cimetrix. He is well-known within the industry due to his involvement with the SEMI standards committees. He currently serves as the co-chairs for the North America Information and Control Committee, the North America GEM300 Task Force, and the North America DDA Task Force. Rubow has both a bachelor’s and a master’s in Engineering from Brigham Young University.
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Fall 2016 SEMI Standards Meeting

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Client Training and Support

Jan 18, 2017 11:30:00 AM

SEMI_logo_share.jpg SEMI North America Information & Control Task Force and Committee fall meetings were last held at SEMI headquarters November 7 through 9, 2016. During these meetings, SEMI announced that they are relocating their headquarters to Milpitas, CA. That move is currently underway. In the GEM 300 task force, all of the ballots failed to pass. This include ballot 5872A, 5549, 6026, 6066, and 6068. In the DDA task force, ballot 6064 also failed.

Ballot 5872A is work driven by Cimetrix to complete to work initially proposed for the E172 standard SEDD files, a feature to enable an electronic format for GEM documentation. Ballot 5872A failed due to some minor issues. SEDD files already provide partial GEM interface documentation in an XML file by listing the data variables, status variables, equipment constants, collection events and alarms. The ballot proposes to enhance SEDD files by adding a list of supported SECS-II messages, remote commands, SEMI standards (with compliance tables), and default event reports. The ballot will be reworked and resubmitted as ballot 5872B.

 Ballot 5549A is a title change and organizational change to the GEM E30 standard. Several years ago, SEMI required all standards to have an official designation, such as Guide or Specification. E30 currently has a title that fails to establish an official standard designation. Additionally, the standard currently fails to have the mandatory sections “Purpose”, “Scope”, “Limitations” like other standards. The ballot was delayed several years due to the SML copyright claim by Peer Group and the ensuing legal confrontation with SEMI. The ballot was finally submitted in 2016 and failed because it renamed the Application Notes as an Appendix instead of “Related Information”. Additionally, there was some confusion because the ballot was based on the 0611 version of E30 rather than the 0416 version which had just been published. This ballot will be reworked and resubmitted as ballot 5549B.

 Ballots 6026, 6066, 6068 and 6024 are reapproval ballots for standards E109, E130/E130.1, E116/E116.1 and E121. SEMI automatically submits all standards for re-approval every five years if a standard has not been revised. These standards all failed due to outdated references. They will all be resubmitted in 2017 with minor changes to correct the outdated references.

 The new GUI task force was approved to create a new major revision of the E95 standard. In particular, the new revision will accommodate new software and hardware technology when laying out equipment user interfaces.

 Cimetrix proposed a new activity to define new SECS-II messages for transferring recipes. The activity will result in a new ballot 6614. Currently, the GEM standard defines two ways to transfer unformatted recipes. Using simple Stream 7 messages S7F3 and S7F6, the entire recipe is part of a single message. This makes is really easy to implement in the host and equipment GEM software, but recipes are limited to about 16.7 MB (the maximum size of a single data item in any SECS-II message). The second way is using the large recipe scenarios which involve using a sequence of messages S7F43/F44, S13F1/S13F2, S13F3/F4, S13F5/F6 (repeated iteratively until there is an error), S6F11/F12 and finally S13F7/F8. Even for an expert, this is very complicated. Ballot 6614 will propose simple new messages for transferring a large recipe using a single message where the recipe can be broken up into multiple parts where each part is up to 16.7 MB in size. If approved, another ballot will attempt to add this to GEM standard. This will open the door for the GEM standard to be used more effectively and in more application where the 16.7 MB limitation posed an issue.

 Japan Information & Control committee (I&CC) announced the official withdrawal of OBEM standards E98 and E98.1. Japan also announced a GEM300A initiative which includes standards E170 and E171 and E174. E170 is the Production Recipe Standard which allows equipment to designate production and non-production recipes; where production recipes are given change protection. E171 defines predictive carrier logistics. Ballot 5601 defines Wafer Job Management. It is not clear whether or not there any IC makers will demand any of these newer standards. Of the three, E170 seems to be most useful and interesting. Predictive carrier logistics seems to be useful only for equipment that have carrier internal buffers. It attempts to help the equipment report when carriers will be ready for removal. It is not clear how E171 will compete with the upcoming E87 ballot 4946 to be submitted by the Korean Information & Control Committee in 2017. Ballot 4946 modified the E87 standard to predict when carriers will be ready to unload. Wafer Job Management is a controversial standard. Japan I&CC announced the passing of ballot 5601 (now E174) despite the strong opposition by multiple knowledgeable voters in other regions, and despite very underwhelming support from regional leaders in North America, Korea, Europe and Taiwan.

 Korean Information & Control committee announced plans to submit ballot 5832, a proposal for a new Generic Counter standard which is built upon the GEM standard. The standard would allow an equipment to define various types of generic “counters” that can be reset by the host. The counters could be used a wide variety of applications; particularly predictive maintenance. The standard as defined in the current ballot defines digital counters, analog counters and collection event counters. Voting period for this ballot just ended recently.

 Next North American I&CC meetings will be held first week in April, 2017.

Topics: SEMI Standards, Semiconductor Industry, SEMI

CIMConnect: Making GEM Implementation Simple for Any Industry Using Automated Manufacturing Equipment

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Client Training and Support

May 26, 2016 1:00:00 PM


Interest in SEMI standard E30, known as the GEM standard has grown in recent years. That interest has increased in various manufacturing industries has matured in which factories are seeking to increase automation and carefully monitor equipment activity in order to increase production and product quality. Initially, the GEM standard targeted just the semiconductor industry, but then expanded to include any industry that used manufacturing equipment. In fact, a number of years ago the name of the GEM Standard changed from the “Generic Model for Communication and Control of Semiconductor Equipment” to “Generic Model for Communication and Control of Manufacturing Equipment.” Adoption by other industries is possible because the GEM standard defines generic features to control and monitor any manufacturing equipment. The GEM standard technology is not limited to semiconductor manufacturing. Over time, other industries have taken notice, especially as they try to develop increased control over their equipment.

CIMConnect™ is the best software product on the market for implementing the GEM standard. Of course CIMConnect supports all of the required GEM features as well as additional capabilities. This even includes excellent support of the Spooling feature, which saves messages that are otherwise dropped during a loss of communication. Early implementations of the GEM standard by others gave the GEM standard’s Spooling feature a bad reputation. This reputation is undeserved when Spooling is implemented by a robust product like CIMConnect. In CIMConnect, not only does Spooling work; it works well. It has been proven by customers that CIMConnect’s Spooling implementation does not lose any messages—even while under high-stress conditions. This means that when using CIMConnect, the Spooling feature can be used to effectively preserve critical data from the equipment.

Another feature that makes CIMConnect the best GEM software product is the CIMConnect Control Panel. In the new CIMConnect release, this application was completely rewritten, redesigned in .NET,  giving it a modern look and feel while adding lots of new convenient functionality. With other GEM products, the GEM interface is essentially a black box. With CIMConnect, however, the Control Panel application gives full visibility into the GEM interface. And you can run it at any time during GEM interface development and also during production. This means that you can see what reports and traces are defined, the link between reports and events, the status of all state machines, the state of each alarm, the enable status of every event, the history of occurring collection events, the history of alarm state changes and the current values of all data variables, and status variables and equipment constants. You can also view and capture the SECS-II message logging at any time for scenario diagnostics. Additionally, the CIMConnect Control Panel provides features to simulate the occurrence of collection events, collection event data, alarms, and variable data; thereby making it a built-in simulator included requiring no additional effort. And when you are ready to update your GEM documentation appendix with the list of defined collection events, alarms, status variables, data variables, and equipment constants, use the documentation builder feature.

CIMConnect has also already adopted use of new SEMI standard E173 Specification for XML SECS-II Message Notation (SMN). CIMConnect allows software applications to use SMN notation both when providing variable values to CIMConnect, as well as when getting variable values from CIMConnect. This means that you can pass data around in XML, retaining the data type and data structure information; bringing the convenience of XML into the SECS/GEM technology. You can log the GEM communication messages using SMN format making log messages much more useful, and they are able to be easily deserialized by any software applications that has XML libraries.

For additional detailed information about CIMConnect or to request a product demonstration, please contact us.

Topics: SECS/GEM, SEMI, CIMConnect

SEMI Standards Meetings from the North American Information & Control Committee Forecasts the Direction of the Semiconductor Industry

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Client Training and Support

Sep 29, 2015 1:30:00 PM

During the week of SEMICON West in San Francisco this past July, the North American Information & Control Committee met to discuss and consider new and pending standards within the industry. SEMATECH was noticeably absent from the sessions. For many years, SEMATECH has been a leader in developing and promoting the GEM 300 and EDA standards.

Here are the highlights from those meetings and how they will effect you.

The DDA Task Force is in the early stages of planning a Freeze 3 version of the EDA (Interface A) standards. This may cause some concern—especially with OEMs—as some are just now getting their Freeze 1 interfaces accepted in Fabs. Freeze 2 was a big step forward in making the standards clearer and easier to adopt, but it required a lot of work to move from Freeze 1 to Freeze 2. The hope is that the transition from Freeze 2 to Freeze 3 will be easier, but there will be doubt and concern among many OEMs.

One of the changes proposed for Freeze 3 is replacing the usage of SSL (HTTP) with WS-Security, an extension to SOAP and a member of the web services specifications published by OASIS. This extension allows for secure data within a SOAP message, while still using HTTP for data transfer. This is really an underlying issue and should not affect the applications that would interface with our CIMPortal Plus product. It would allow for a secure connection between CIMPortal and the Fab client so that the data transmitted is protected from theft. There would be configuration changes required to allow the secure connection to be defined, but—once it is—the actual interaction between the OEM’s application and CIMPortal Plus should not change.

Another change being considered is the implementation of WS-ReliableMessaging, another extension to SOAP and also a member of the web services specifications published by OASIS. WS-ReliableMessaging describes a protocol that allows SOAP messages to be reliably delivered between distributed applications in the presence of software component, system, or network failures. Just as the WS-Security item above, this would be at the protocol level, an “under-the-hood” change. It should not affect the way applications interact with our product, but should provide for a more reliable connection to the host EDA client. Use of this extension could also allow EDA to be used in more factory applications, where guaranteed data acquisition is required.

The final issue that was discussed relating to Freeze 3 was a new high-frequency trace for collecting data at very high speeds triggered for short periods of time where the collected data is sent at the end of the collection period. For example, a 1 ms trace for 5 seconds where the 5,000 collected samples for each parameter would be sent at the end of the 5 second period. This change might require alterations in our products. This will help the data reporting be more efficient. Rather than reporting small individual pieces of data to the EDA client, this will allow many data samples to be sent together making for more efficient use of the network.

The GEM 300 Task Force had three ballots on hold due to the ongoing SML copyright legal trial between SEMI and The PEER Group. However, work on other pending ballots continued. The first, Ballot 5872, proposes to add new features to the E172 SEDD standard. E172 is a new standard that provides an XML schema for documenting a GEM/GEM 300 interface. Eventually, E172 can completely replace the current GEM documentation requirements.

Recipe Integrity ballot 5618 has an uncertain future since ISMI failed to pursue its development; unfortunately, the ballot had seemed very close to completion. This standard says that it will not require changes to SECS II messages, but simply clarifies what parameters are defined and how the existing pieces work together. So, essentially, it would be a standard that tells you how to use other existing standards.

Finally, the Task Force discussed enhancing the GEM 300 standards to handle equipment that bond substrates and divide substrates. This will affect E90 and could affect E40, E87, and E94 as well. These changes would likely require updates to CIM300. Right now the standards just address how to treat equipment where the same material (substrates or wafers) go in and out. Traditional material tracking assumes one wafer in, get processed, then return to an output carrier. In the proposed case, either two wafers go in and one unit comes out, or one substrate goes in and two come out

The committee is scheduled to next meet in November, so you can plan on seeing another post from me on the outcome of those meetings afterwards. Subscribe to our blog in the upper right corner of this page to be sure not to miss that or any of my future updates on the North American Information & Control Committee.

Topics: SEMI Standards, SEMI, Interface A, EDA, SEMICON West

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