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

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EDA Testing – How is this accomplished today??

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations

Feb 7, 2017 1:30:00 PM

Over the past several months, we have posted a number of blogs dealing with the testing of SEMI’s Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA / aka Interface A) standards suite. The first of these posts connected the importance of this topic to the increased adoption of the EDA standards across the industry, and broke the overall problem domain into its three major components. 

Subsequent postings provided additional detail in each of these areas:EDA_Icon.png

To bring this series to a close, this post addresses the “as-is” state of EDA testing as it is practiced today by the advanced semiconductor manufacturers who are requiring EDA interfaces on new equipment purchases and the suppliers who provide that equipment. 

For compliance testing, the three options in general use include: 

  1. ECCE Plus product- this software tool was originally developed under contract with the International Sematech Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI) to validate the fidelity, usability, and interoperability of early versions of the standard; it can used to manually execute a set of procedures documented in the “ISMI Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA) Evaluation Method for the July 2010 Standards Freeze Level: Version 1.0” document (see title page below) to exercise most of the capabilities called for in the standard; note that this is the only commercially available solution among the three.

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  1. Company-specific test suites – one major chip manufacturer (and early adopter of EDA) maintains its own partially-automated set of compliance tests, and provides this system to its equipment suppliers as a pre-shipment test vehicle. This set of tests is then used in the fab as part of the tool acceptance process; however, this system also includes a number of company-specific automation scenarios, which are not available for outside use. This highlights the need to support custom extensions in an industry-validated tester if it is to be commercially viable.

  2. In-house custom test clients – this is a variation of #2 that some of the major OEMs have chosen as their economies of scale dictate; the problems with this approach are that a) the test clients must be kept current with the EDA standards, which are themselves a moving target, and b) unless thoroughly validated by the eventual customers of the equipment, there is no guarantee that passing these tests will satisfy the final acceptance criteria for a given factory. 

For performance and stability testing, there are no automated solutions currently available. The ISMI EDA Evaluation Method does describe some rudimentary performance evaluation procedures, but these no longer reflect the expectations of the customers with many years of accumulated EDA production experience. Clearly a better solution is needed.

Finally, for metadata model conformance testing, the only available solution is the Metadata Conformance Analyzer (MCA) that was commissioned by Sematech and implemented by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). It has not been updated in almost five years, and exhibits a number of known issues when applied to a SEMI E164-compliant equipment model (E164 = Specification for EDA Common Metadata), so it will be increasingly insufficient as more companies require full Freeze II / E164 specification compliance. 

The good news in all this is that Cimetrix has recognized and anticipated this emerging need, and is actively addressing it on our product roadmap. If you want to know more about EDA testing and/or discuss your specific needs, please contact Cimetrix for a demonstration of this exciting new capability!

Topics: Interface A, EDA, EDAConnect, ECCE, Data

European Advanced Process Control and Manufacturing Conference XVI in Review

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations

Apr 19, 2016 2:01:05 PM

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Cimetrix participated in the recent European Advanced Process Control and Manufacturing (apc|m) Conference, along with more than 130 control professionals across the European and global semiconductor manufacturing industry. The conference was held in Reutlingen, Germany, a picturesque city of stone and half-timber buildings just south of Stuttgart.

APC3.png

This conference, now in its 16th year, is one of only a few global events dedicated to the domain of semiconductor process control and directly supporting technologies. The conference’s attendance this year was comparable in numbers and demographics to that of the previous two years, a clear indication that this area continues to hold keen interest for the European high-tech manufacturing community. Another highlight this year was the sponsorship of Bosch, a relative newcomer to the conference but a pillar of the German manufacturing industry. Reutlingen is home to Bosch’s automotive electronics division and its related semiconductor manufacturing facilities, so they were very well represented in the conference and excellent hosts!

Cimetrix was privileged to make two presentations at this year's conference. The first was entitled “Data Fusion at the Source: Standards and Technologies for Seamless Sensor Integration,” authored and delivered by myself. The external sensor integration and related data unification topics have enjoyed increasing interest over the past year, and even though the techniques outlined in the presentation leverage the latest versions of the Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA)/Interface A standards, they apply equally well for the 200mm manufacturing nodes prevalent in European wafer fabs and assembly/test factories. The solution architecture is shown in the slide below, but for the background and rationale behind this approach, feel free to download a copy of the entire presentation from our website by clicking on the link below.

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  Download the Presentation

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The second presentation, entitled “'Smart Manufacturing' solutions for high-mix manufacturing using Wait-Time-Waste improvement opportunities” was authored by Jan Driessen, a Principal Industrial Engineer with NXP Semiconductor in the Netherlands. It summarized the work of a project team from six companies and as many countries, and funded by the European Union's “integrate” program (cover page is on the left). Because of an unexpected work conflict during the conference, however, Jan was unable to attend, and, based on our companies’ shared interest in the Wait-Time-Waste technology and standards over the past several years, he thought that Cimetrix would be well qualified to give his presentation. I willingly agreed, worked with Jan to make sure I understood the latest material, and made the presentation. It essentially makes a compelling case for using equipment event data in a legacy 200mm fab to improve OEE, operational effectiveness, and factory capacity through a “chain of data operations” paradigm that he explains in some detail. The good news for 300mm fabs is that these same results can even more readily be achieved, because the availability and fidelity of the event data is much higher, especially if the fab has a full GEM300/EDA E164-compliant system infrastructure. For more information, request a copy of this presentation directly from Jan Driessen at jan.p.driessen@nxp.com.

Other themes that were evident at the conference included 1) applications of APC and supporting metrology techniques for structures found in smart sensors, MEMS devices, LEDs, and other semiconductor products outside the traditional processor and memory segments; 2) increasing emphasis on equipment data collection in the back end to support productivity monitoring and control applications; 3) unit process control for a number of equipment types; and 4) an entire session devoted to industrial engineering topics.

As with other similar conferences around the globe, the takeaway for Cimetrix is that “Smart Manufacturing,” Industrie 4.0, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), advanced process control and fault detection applications, “big data” analytics, and a host of other high-tech manufacturing technologies all depend on the ability to get the right data at the right time from the right sources on the factory floor, and then make it available wherever and whenever needed… For more information about how Cimetrix’s product families that directly address this “sweet spot,” please contact us.

Topics: SEMI Standards, Interface A, EDA, Events, Data

Factory System Infrastructure Support Necessary for a Full-scale EDA Deployment

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations

Nov 24, 2015 12:30:00 PM

In my October 27th blog, I wrote about the Equipment Automation topic shown in the figure below and stressed the importance of developing good equipment purchasing specifications from the outset to ensure the company’s manufacturing objectives can be met. Given the number of EDA pilot and production projects currently active across the industry, it’s likewise important to consider what kind of Factory System Infrastructure will be necessary to support a full-scale EDA deployment… so the purpose of this posting is to highlight this topic for the semiconductor manufacturing IT professionals who may face these challenges soon.

EDA2Pict2.pngHowever, before diving into a detailed design process for an EDA factory system, you must decide what overall system architecture will govern that design. A number of factors go into this decision, including 1) the functional requirements that distinguish EDA-based data collection from other more traditional approaches, 2) technology constraints of the existing factory systems, 3) budget limitations, 4) schedule requirements, and especially 5) the non-functional requirements (scalability, performance, reliability, ease-of-use, etc.) that often make the difference between success and failure of a given system.

Each of these factors deserves a thorough treatment of its own, but since we were invited to address this topic at a recent seminar sponsored by SEMI Taiwan, we’ve assembled an overview presentation entitled “Factory Systems Architectures for EDA” that you can use as a starting point. It not only covers in more depth the requirements above which drive key architectural decisions, but also suggests what some of the major architectural components of a production system would need to be, based on the experience Cimetrix has gained working with the earliest adopters of EDA across the semiconductor device maker and equipment supplier communities. These include provisions for handling the scores of equipment metadata models that will exist in a production facility, for creating and managing the thousands of data collection plans that are resident at the equipment instances themselves, for monitoring and maintaining the overall performance of a system with such inherent flexibility, and for a number of other examples. Finally, the presentation describes some high-level examples of architectural “styles” that have been implemented in the industry thus far.  

We sincerely hope you will download this presentation and its companion “The Power of E164: EDA Common Metadata” that was also presented at the SEMI Taiwan event, and contact us when you want to know more about any of these topics.

Topics: SEMI Standards, Interface A, EDA, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Data

2015 Advanced Process Control (APC) Conference Focused on High Quality Equipment Data

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations

Oct 23, 2015 1:00:00 PM

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Cimetrix participated in the recent Advanced Process Control (APC) Conference in Austin, Texas, along with more than 120 control professionals across the semiconductor manufacturing industry. This conference, now in its 27th year, is one of only a few global events dedicated to the domain of semiconductor process control and directly supporting technologies, so it was encouraging to see its attendance and energy level rebound from its low water mark a few years ago. The calendar may have indicated it was fall, but nobody told the weather forecasters… Austin set temperature records that week, even hitting 99°F one day!

Given the importance of high quality equipment data for all types of equipment- and factory-level process control applications, it is vital that Cimetrix and its customers understand the current requirements and future direction of this industry segment. Many presentations addressed these topics indirectly, but perhaps the newest insights in this regard came not from the wafer fabrication processes, but rather from the Back End, OSAT (Outsourced Assembly and Test), and advanced packaging segments.

As evidence, a number of presenters mentioned the growing need for equipment data collection in these areas, and cited the following reasons: 1) increasing demands by the consumer product manufacturing customers of these facilities (especially smart phone providers, but others as well) for equipment data to support their product quality and supply chain optimization initiatives; 2) emphasis on the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) productivity metrics, and the event/status data needed to support their automated calculation; 3) broader deployment of multi-variate Fault Detection and Classification (FDC) applications, which require more equipment trace data parameters than have typically been collected from back end equipment; and finally, 4) actual feedback control based on back end metrology – the best example of this presented last week was an application on dicing equipment that showed how kerf data collection and analysis can be used to adjust saw process parameters

The takeaway for Cimetrix in all this is that the back end equipment suppliers will need to anticipate this demand and may need to upgrade their interface capabilities substantially.

Since some of Cimetrix’ customers have pioneered the application of the latest generation of SEMI EDA (Equipment Data Acquisition) / Interface A standards in plumbing data from external “add-on” sensors to fault detection applications, I presented a generalization of this approach during one of technical sessions. This presentation, “Data Fusion at the Source: Standards and Technologies for Seamless Sensor Integration” is available on the Cimetrix website for those who want to learn more about how this is done.

05_Weber_Presentation_Cover.jpg        Download Presentation  

Check back next week to learn more about creating good EDA/Interface A purchasing specifications.

Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, Market Trends, Interface A, EDA, Events, Data Management, Data

New Features in CIMControlFramework™ 3.0

Posted by Cimetrix

Jul 1, 2011 1:41:00 PM

By David Francis

Product Manager

The creation of a new software product is an exciting process. Often, as was the case with the Cimetrix CIMControlFramework™ (CCF) software, this process begins with a partner that will become the first customer of the product. Cimetrix teamed with Axcelis Technologies to develop a new tool control framework for one of their process tools. A following project with Rorze Automation further developed the framework and produced CCF 2.0. Upon completion of that project, Cimetrix continued the development of the tool control framework to become a standard product that any OEM could use, resulting in the release of CCF 3.0.

The development effort for CCF v3.0 focused on four main areas that improve both the product development capability and the user experience:

  • Tighter integration with Cimetrix connectivity products
  • Faster data analysis
  • Reduced installation time
  • Improved training material

1)      Tighter integration of CIMControlFramework with factory automation components to implement Interface A and SECS/GEM connectivity

We simplified the data configuration so that parameters, events, and alarms are registered at start up and automatically coordinated with the configuration files for the factory automation products.

In the previous versions, CCF was configured to work with a CIM300 or CIMConnect product that was previously installed and configured for the equipment. The problem was that if someone needed to change the connectivity functionality, that change was not reflected in the tool control portion of CCF, or vice versa.  This meant that the required changes had to be implemented twice, resulting in duplication of effort.

Since we wanted to develop the product for a broad range of customers, we wanted to make sure that during tool initialization, OEMs would be able set up alarms, variable definitions, collection events, etc. one time for both tool control by CIMControlFramework and for the connectivity products.

With the tighter integration in CCF 3.0 to coordinate the tool control and the connectivity, initial deployment is now much easier and faster.

Below is an example that shows how alarms, events, and variables are tied together.  OEMs create the initial model using EM Developer, and then all of the configured alarms, events, variables are dynamically added to the model after startup. You don’t have to create all the details of the model, just the basic configuration and CCF fills in the data.

 Data Model resized 600

2)      Improved User Experience Through Faster Data Analysis
We learned from the initial deployments that tool operators need quick access to process data in order to improve productivity and lower costs. For CCF 3.0, Cimetrix implemented dedicated history tables to improve performance of queries on historical data.  The new history tables allow for much faster queries for wafer, EPT and Alarm history information.

All logged information is written to log files.  Any log information related to wafer, EPT, or alarm history is also written to the respective table in the on-tool database.

The benefit is fast and easy visualization of the equipment process data that is 20-30 times faster than the previous CIMControlFramework product.

The following graph shows the frequency of alarms reported by the equipment, which can be used to identify problem areas.  This type of data now comes back within a few seconds.

 Alarm History resized 600

3)      Reduce the time and effort of software installation and initial setup

The new installer allows the user to select the specific CCF modules needed and any other embedded Cimetrix products – such as CIMPortal™ or CIM300™ they want to install and configure. The installation is done in 2 phases. The first phase installs all files related to the products selected, including the source code. The second phase installs and pre-configures CCF and any pre-requisite packages. With the installation package, the time to time to install is dramatically reduced.

4)      Improved training material and code samples

To help a project team get started faster and get them more productive sooner, the Cimetrix created new labs that offer hands-on exercises.  One example is a lab to show the process for customizing user screens.  Both the problem case and the completed solution for each lab ship with CCF.  The real benefit is customers can use the labs as a starting point for their project or as reference material to help them create their own implementation.

Below is a screen shot from a lab that walks students through the process of creating a custom screen to visualize data for their specific tool, such as visualizing pressures, load locks, robots, load ports, processing chambers, etc.

UI Training resized 600

Cimetrix is a software company dedicated to continual product enhancement.  This release delivers improved functionality and performance that will benefit our customers.  With CIMControlFramework, OEMs have a great solution for tool control that allows them to spend more time and effort on delivering their unique value to the market, and far less time on tool control and connectivity—and it just keeps getting better.  This is another example of what Cimetrix does to support our customers to speed them through the development phase and into production.

Topics: Equipment Control-Software Products, Data Collection, Equipment Automation Framework, Data

So Much Data, So Little Time

Posted by Cimetrix

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

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