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

Cimetrix Partners with Linkgenesis That Will Serve as the Distributor for Our CIMPortal Plus Software in Korea

Posted by Erick Ko: Linkgenesis on Jan 19, 2016 1:12:00 PM

Linkgenesislogo_Blue.png

Last November Linkgenesis Corporation, based in Seoul, became the official Korean distributor of Cimetrix’ EDA/Interface A solution CIMPortal Plus.

This partnership was a perfect fit as we at Linkgenesis have been providing software products and development services in manufacturing information automation systems and the software testing area since 2001. In November of 2014, Linkgenesis merged with IT-Innovation, a communication software solution provider for semiconductor and LCD factories.

In cooperation with Cimetrix, Linkgenesis will be delivering the globally-proven EDA solution to Korean customers, and will also provide enhanced XGem/XGem300 GEM Driver harnessed with CIMPortal Plus so that customers using XGem/XGem300 can easily adapt their equipment to provide EDA capabilities. XGem/XGem300 GEM Driver is a Linkgenesis’ software driver supporting SEMI 300mm standards and is based on XCom SECS Driver that has been proven reliable for more than 200 customers. Linkgenesis’ software testing tool, MAT (Machine Auto Tester), has also been largely used by Korean mobile companies and automotive companies such as Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, and Hyundai automotive groups.

SEMI EDA/Interface A standards were originally established in 2006 with Freeze-I and then updated with Freeze-II in 2010, but Korean chipmakers have not actively adopted Interface A standards in their production processes. However this is beginning to change as Samsung Electronics released its plan to introduce Interface A on its pilot line last August and SK hynix also started discussion of introducing Interface A.

In addition, Samsung Electronics plans to build a new line at its Pyeongtaek, South Korea and SK hynix’ plants to increase its production line at Cheongju and Yicheon, South Korea. However, according to Gartner’s forecast, semiconductor equipment spending by Samsung Electronics and SK hynix are going to slightly decrease this year. Samsung Electronics will invest $11.4 billion, which is a 13.5% decrease from 2014, and SK hynix will invest $4.8 billion this year, which is a 10.6% decrease from 2014.

We believe this new partnership between Linkgenesis and Cimetrix will provide a great deal of advantages to Korean customers in this emerging market, and will promote the increased interest in EDA/Interface A technology for chip manufactures.

Korea_2016_Banner_416x61.gifLinkgenesis will be exhibiting at SEMICON Korea 2016, which will be held in Seoul on January 27-29. Please stop by our booth in Hall C #1739 to see our product line as well as Cimetrix’ CIMPortal Plus, and discover how our software brings the latest innovations to the semiconductor manufacturing industry.

Topics: Semiconductor Industry, Interface A, CIMPortal, Doing Business with Cimetrix

Software Versioning Help Sets Users' Expectations

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on Jan 14, 2016 1:02:00 PM

There are times in life when a surprise is a good thing. Like when you get a box of chocolates. We all remember the line from the movie Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” When you install a new version of software however, surprises aren’t as enjoyable. With a new software release, customers need to be able to assess the effort and impact the new release will have on their current systems and procedures. Then they can evaluate whether the new features and functionality will be worth the effort to deploy the new software release. One way software companies can help communicate the impact a new software release may have on customers is by using a clearly defined release versioning procedure.

Change is good and software products that grow and mature over time, adding new features and eliminating unwanted behaviors, can remain healthy and viable over a long period of time. However, consistency and predictability are also important characteristics of good software products. So how do software companies balance the two seemingly competitive objectives?

Itunes.pngsemantic-versioning.pngMany software companies can do this is through the way they use software versioning. It is common for software companies to use a major.minor.patch.build software versioning scheme, for example iTunes 12.3.1. This type of software versioning allows the software company to communicate the scale and impact of the changes in the release to their customers. A change in the “major” release number indicates to customers that there are some significant changes in this release that may impact the way it interacts with the product. The customer will likely need to make code changes or procedural changes when upgrading to such a release. A change to the “minor” release number denotes that there are multiple changes in the release, but customers should see only minor, or possibly no changes, in the way they use the product. A minor release may include some small new features that could potentially require code changes if the customers wanted/needed those new features. A “patch” release is generally used to address a specific issue and should not change the customer experience with the software. The build number is most often provided to help the software company when researching a question or customer reported defect.

Software versioning provides a way to set expectations with the customer about what is in the release and how it might affect the way they use the product. It can help take the surprise out of the process of installing a new software release. Life may be “like a box of chocolates,” but software releases shouldn’t be.

If you would like to learn more about the semiconductor industry, software best practices, and other topics related to new technologies, please subscribe to our email updates using the form in the upper right corner of this page.

Topics: Semiconductor Industry, Interface A, CIMPortal, Doing Business with Cimetrix

To Better Serve Our Clients, We Will Be Discontinuing the Mailing of CDs and Hardcopy COAs for Runtime Licenses

We here at Cimetrix are excited that we are implementing a new process that will both benefit our clients and the environment. We have always delivered our software runtime license orders to our clients on CDs along with hardcopies of their Certificates of Authenticity (COA). Well, starting January 1st, we will begin delivering orders to our clients through emails that will include a digital COA for each runtime license and instructions on how to download their software.

As a company, we have always prided our self on providing the finest quality customer experience possible so we feel that this new process is just one more step in improving our service. There are a number of benefits of this change:

  • Most of our clients integrate Cimetrix’s software with their own software by using the Software Development Kit (SDK), most runtime license CDs are simply thrown away, which in today’s world is really not acceptable. By making this simple change, we will be eliminating thousands of pounds of potential waste.

  • We are constantly improving our software products and the latest version should always be obtained from our Support website (cimetrix.com/online-support)—not from a CD stored on a shelf somewhere for who knows how long. This change ensures that the latest version of our software will always be used.

  • The shipping cost and time delay by sending CDs by a carrier will be eliminated which will be a direct cost savings to you. 

  • The proof-of-purchase for our runtime license is the COA, not the CD. The COA number is what is used to obtain the license code using our online license generator. 

So the only thing we need our clients to do is to make sure we have an email address on file of where they would like their future orders sent. It’s that simple. We do foresee a period of adjustment for some clients, so for those that still want CDs and hardcopy COAs delivered, we will have this option available for an additional fee.

Of course, if you have any questions or comments regarding this policy, we are always happy to hear from you.  You can contact us at Orders@Cimetrix.com.

Topics: CIMPortal, CIMControlFramework, Support, CIM300, CIMConnect, EDAConnect, SECSConnect

Presenting New Cimetrix Products in Japan

Posted by Cimetrix on Jan 7, 2013 10:44:00 AM

By Dave Faulkner

Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Cimetrix

SEMICON Japan 2012 was a great experience, and it was amazing to see the excitement and interest in new developments as the industry prepares for growth in 2013. We were able to showcase Cimetrix products at the booths of Meiden and Rorze, our distributors in Japan. We also displayed CIMControlFramework in the MKS Instruments booth.


SCJapan 2012 logo 0212 EN 2 resized 600


Meiden and Rorze demonstrated CIMPortal 2 for the many OEMs we have in Japan currently using CIMPortal 1.x.  CIMPortal 2 provides the tools for equipment companies to comply with the SEMI E164 standard when they are implementing an EDA/Interface A connection. The E164 standard, approved by SEMI this year, was developed so that companies using EDA/Interface A connections can generate a more consistent and high-quality definition of their equipment’s model, as represented in the metadata file. The CIMPortal 2 toolkit includes many features that reduce development time and effort, including a drag-and-drop equipment model builder and compliance checker.
CIMPortal Architecture
We also presented and demonstrated the Wait Time Waste (WTW) and Fingerprinting projects we are developing in collaboration with ISMI. Due to an emphasis on productivity improvement demands, many semiconductor fabs are very interested in hearing about how they can reduce costs using the WTW metrics and methods in development. Fabs are also interested in fingerprinting – also known as equipment health monitoring – in order to reduce the time to repair equipment and avoid downtime. Alan Weber, Director at Cimetrix, taped a presentation and demonstration of fingerprinting that was shown in the Meiden and Rorze booths.

We also highlighted our CIMControlFramework equipment software framework at the Meiden, Rorze, and MKS Instruments booth. OEMs are looking for an equipment control software solution they can use for high-volume applications, and they like the concept of being able to manage the development in-house. By using a flexible, extensible, configurable framework, OEMs can implement custom extensions for new customers and design the next generation of system internally, allowing them to maintain control of their own development process. Rorze now offers not only CIMControlFramework as a stand-alone product, but also packaged with robot hardware including EFEMs and Vacuum Platforms.

Kerry Iwamoto, the Managing Director of Cimetrix Japan K.K., and I presented at the SEMI Productivity Standards Workshop, which focused on Wait Time Waste. This workshop, which was one of the better-attended sessions, presented new proposed standards development activities to improve manufacturing productivity and reduce costs. Kerry and I described plans for developing a SEMI standard for Wait Time Waste methods and metrics that will allow semiconductor fabs to measure product wait time and use that data to reduce waste and cycle time. We showed how the WTW Reference Implementation (WTWRI) developed by Cimetrix can help fabs pinpoint process delays and determine how to reduce them.

Japan is going through some tough times both politically and in their semiconductor industry. But now is the time to work closely with high volume OEMs in Japan as they retool their strategy for the next phase of semiconductor growth.

Topics: CIMPortal, SEMICON Japan

Cimetrix at SEMICON Japan 2010

Posted by Cimetrix on Dec 14, 2010 11:35:00 AM

By Dave Faulkner

Executive VP, Sales and Marketing, Cimetrix

We had a strong showing at SEMICON Japan at the Makuhari Messe December 1 - 3.  Attendance was brisk, and Cimetrix products were on display at both the Meiden and the Rorze booths.  This event was a great opportunity for us, since we have just started Cimetrix Japan K.K. effective November 25, 2010.  The new Cimetrix company will provide both new market development and customer support for the Japan marketplace.

In the Meiden booth, Cimetrix EDA/Interface A products were on display.  In addition, Meiden highlighted the partnership between Meiden, DSD, and Cimetrix, which allows DSD and Meiden to offer complete EDA solutions using Cimetrix technology.  These solutions are available to both equipment suppliers and IC manufacturers, and Meiden listed the benefits and sample architectures for each group. 

 Meiden Booth resized 600

 Meiden Booth Signs resized 600

Cimetrix CIMControlFramework (CCF) was on display at the Rorze booth running a complete 450mm vacuum platform.  Many visitors stopped to watch this powerful demonstration.  Cimetrix products were also highlighted, along with Rorze’s unique ability to deliver a complete hardware/software platform solution for equipment suppliers using Rorze and Cimetrix technology. 

 Rorze Booth resized 600

 Rorze Booth 2 resized 600

One other highlight of the show was visiting the Axcelis booth where they highlighted their Integra plasma dry strip cleaning system that uses the Cimetrix CIMControlFramework.

 Axcelis Booth Integra Tool using CCF resized 600

We also learned at the show that a new top 20 OEM in Japan would adopt Cimetrix connectivity products.  It is great to see how companies are using our solutions to get to their products up and running in wafer fabs around the world.

Thanks to all those people who stopped by the booths.  Please let us know if you need more information about Cimetrix connectivity or tool control solutions.

Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, Semiconductor Industry, Interface A, CIMPortal, SEMICON Japan, CIMControlFramework, EDAConnect, Data Collection, Japan, Equipment Automation Framework, Rorze

So Much Data, So Little Time

Posted by Cimetrix on Jun 24, 2010 6:00:00 AM

by Dave Faulkner,
EVP, Sales & Marketing

Engineers love data. Business people love information. But it all starts with high-quality, real-time data. The possibilities are endless with good data.

As an equipment supplier, history probably has you living with a tool architecture from the early 300mm days. The focus was on implementing AMHS systems and meeting the GEM300 standards. A data driven architecture wasn't on the radar screen. And it wasn't a business priority. Times have changed. Fabs started asking for more data by creating the SEMI Interface A standards - and equipment suppliers are learning they can produce more productive equipment by leveraging the right data.

Interface A was an interesting concept when it started in the early 2000s. Discoverable data available to the fabs in real time would seem to be the answer to many problems. But the adoption has been less than stellar - even with strong endorsement and technical support by ISMI. Lack of fab side applications plumbed to use the Interface A data and "ownership" issues of the data haven't helped. These are real business problems that must be solved and will be solved with the next wave of fab purchases.

But what have we learned as equipment suppliers and software providers? Tool data models are helpful. Self description is great. We can create high performance data gathering applications that integrate with existing tool control architectures to make data available and controllable by the equipment supplier. Look at the performance of CIMPortal, our comprehensive equipment data acquisition (EDA) solution. We also learned that given the opportunity to "start over", we can create new tool control architectures that are data driven and prepared for the future. Look at CIMControlFramework. So the data is available - or you can make it available with an existing or new tool control architecture.

Let's put this data to work. Either to benefit you as the tool supplier or to help your customer. How is your tool accepted at the fabs? Do you have contingencies on your customer's payments? Does tool uptime have an impact on the tool price? Are your warranty costs too high? You get the point. With high-quality, real-time data at our fingertips, we can solve some of these business issues. We are at the beginning of a phase where the tool supplier makes use of this data and it directly impacts business results. Tool side fault detection, preventative maintenance, whatever is needed. The important point is we are finally starting from a strong foundation with the right data at the right time - and it can lead to increased margins or higher levels of customer satisfaction. Bring us your business problem and let's build something together to put this data to good use. Let's do it now!

You might also be interested in:

Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, SEMI Standards, Interface A, CIMPortal, CIMControlFramework, Equipment Control-Software Products, Data Collection, Data Management, Data

Interface A New Freeze Version - are you prepared?

Posted by Cimetrix on Jun 8, 2010 4:00:00 AM

by Brian Rubow,
Product Manager

Be Prepared for the EDA Freeze VersionI have been a Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America for about 5 years now. Our troop goes camping several times a year. Utah offers a lot of beautiful and interesting camping areas. The variety is remarkable. In our troop we spent a lot of time teaching and preparing the boys to not only have fun, but also be safe and wise in their fun. Some planning ahead, training and common sense can make a huge difference. Nearly every week, I have our Senior Patrol Leader help all of the scouts in our troop recite a number of memorized phrases including the Scout Oath, Law, Slogan, Motto and sometimes even the Outdoor Code. The Scout Motto is the famous one known to almost everyone in the world; "Be Prepared". Reciting it every week helps our minds to remember to focus on being prepared for whatever may come. We prepare the boys to handle emergency situations such as medical and weather related emergencies. "Be Prepared" applies not only to scouting activities like camping, canoeing and hiking, but also to school, our careers and everything we do.

At Cimetrix we also like to "Be Prepared". In particular, at the time we designed our EDA (Interface A) products, CIMPortal and EDAConnect we recognized a need to support multiple versions of the standard. Since 2006, there has been only one allowed version of the EDA standards. This is the ISMI Freeze Version which specifies the 1105 version of the SEMI® standards. At Cimetrix we knew that at some point in the future the 1105 ISMI Freeze Version would not be the only version implemented. As co-chair of the DDA Task Force responsible for the development of the SEMI EDA standards, I can personally attest that the standards have continued to change, mature and improve. At Cimetrix, we predicted from the start that at some point in the future, factories would want these new features in the standards and that ISMI would announce another EDA Freeze Version.

Due to the nature of the underlying SOAP/XML technology, the client and equipment are required to use the same version of the SEMI standards. With one and only one ISMI Freeze Version, this is easy. Everyone's implementation works with everyone else's implementation. With more than one ISMI Freeze Version, it is more complicated. Each equipment supplier has to support each ISMI Freeze Version to communicate with the different client software at different factories or even in the same factory. Each factory has to support each ISMI Freeze Version to communicate with the different equipment implementing different versions.

ISMI is poised to announce another EDA Freeze Version soon. Certainly the factories using the EDA standards will expect equipment suppliers to adopt the new version as soon as possible. And certainly factory data collection applications will want to adopt the new version and take advantage of the new features.

To "Be Prepared" for the future, Cimetrix originally designed both EDA products, CIMPortal and EDAConnect, for the future. Each product is designed with an abstraction layer to be able to support multiple EDA versions at the same time. This makes it possible for Cimetrix to adopt the new EDA versions without rearchitecting the products. In turn, this passes on tremendous value to our customers who also will not have to rearchitect their solutions. In fact, Cimetrix customer should be able to upgrade to new Freeze Versions with relative ease. It is nice to "Be Prepared".

Schedule a meeting at SEMICON® West 2010 to discuss your Interface A needs further!
Or visit us at Booth #2331, South Hall.

You might also be interested:

Topics: SEMI Standards, SEMI, Interface A, CIMPortal, ISMI, Product Information, EDAConnect

A case for custom programming tools when creating equipment models.

Posted by Cimetrix on Oct 13, 2009 8:00:00 AM

by Allyn Sullivan,
Software Engineer

I have recently worked with several customers who were in the process of building CIMPortal equipment models for their tools. Some were using the Equipment Model Developer (EMD) which ships with CIMPortal while others were programmatically building their models using the CxModel API. Working with both sets of customers, I saw a very real need for customers to develop programming tools to create equipment models instead of relying on the EMD alone.

Every model has a unique equipment configuration. Building an equipment model through the EMD is a laborious process. Each node of the equipment is added individually with a minimal amount of automation. Although suitable for those new to CIMPortal and initial model development, the EMD is not practical for building the many unique equipment models required for every tool configuration that a manufacturer makes.

Most manufacturers use a base tool to which they can add components to meet their customer's specification. Equipment configuration data can then be imported from the bill of materials (BoM), parts inventory, or other data from the manufacturing system of record. The model builder application can import this data (from a database or spreadsheet, for example) and use the CxModel API to generate several unique equipment models automatically. The application should be able to easily generate equipment models for any tool in the manufacturer's inventory.

Developing the proper tools that meet your individual needs is the most efficient way of creating equipment models for CIMPortal. You'll save time over using the EMD and have more consistent equipment models across tools.

Questions about developing equipment models?
Post a comment or send me an email.
Want to learn more about the Interface A Standards?
Cimetrix will be hosting a webinar on November 12, outlining the features & benefits of Interface A - presented by Doug Rust.

DOWNLOAD THE RECORDED WEBINAR HERE.

You might also be interested in:

Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, CIMPortal, Programming Tools, Equipment Models, EMD

Interface A - Are we there yet?

Posted by Cimetrix on Sep 10, 2009 2:20:00 PM

by Doug Rust,
Director, Quality Customer Support & co-chair of the SEMI North America GEM300 Task Force

In April, the suite of SEMI software standards commonly referred to as "Interface A" turned 5 years old.

Coincidentally, also in April, the SEMI standards North America Information and Control Committee approved an important revision to these standards to incorporate many of the lessons learned from early implementations.

SEMATECH, through its subsidiary ISMI, for years has been consistent in communicating how important Interface A (a.k.a. - Equipment Data Acquisition - EDA) is to the current and future manufacturing automation needs of its member companies. This message was repeated again at an ISMI workshop I attended this last Spring. ISMI had explained that the SEMATECH member companies (which make up 50 percent of the worldwide chip market) wanted ISMI to focus on a smaller number of projects with short-term benefits for 2009. Interface A (EDA) is on this short list.

In support of the ISMI members' vision for a better quality data communication interface, Cimetrix has been actively developing Interface A software since before the standards were published with early prototypes based on draft documents back in 2002-2003. We have had a continuous product improvement program in place since 2004 for our CIMPortal product which implements the Equipment Data Acquisition standards on the server side. We had previews of our EDAConnect factory-side EDA product at SEMICONWest 2007 and launched the product later that year.

So, as I was sitting in the workshop listening to the speaker from ISMI say once again what an important enabling technology Interface A was for current and Next Generation Factories (NGF), I thought to myself, "I keep hearing ‘we need it, we need it'. I wonder why more companies aren't using it"?

Why do you think companies have been slow to deliver Interface A (EDA) solutions on their equipment and using it in their fabs?

You might also be interested in:

Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, SEMI Standards, CIMPortal, ISMI, SEMATECH, EDAConnect

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