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

President's Letter to our Cimetrix Community

Posted by Robert H. Reback: President and Chief Executive Officer on Feb 2, 2017 11:30:00 AM

To the Cimetrix community of clients, partners, shareholders and employees,

Cimetrix had another year of solid progress during 2016. Financial results were in-line with expectations, as Cimetrix continued to achieve profitability every quarter with full-year revenue in the $6M to $7M range.

Our key highlights include:

  • Cimetrix continued to enhance its reputation for product quality and the highest levels of customer support in the industry, receiving consistently excellent feedback from our client base.

  • Cimetrix continued to invest in building great products with new releases of all our product lines. Substantial improvements were made in both new features and internal testing that will benefit our clients for many years. 

  • Cimetrix gained additional “design wins” for its products in North America, Europe and Japan, where the company has an established presence. In addition, Cimetrix won important new clients in China and Korea. 

  • Cimetrix strengthened its organization as we added a number of new employees in business development, software engineering and technical support functions. The Company continued to invest in employee development, education and continuous improvement. We believe the concepts and training we’ve received in lean and agile processes will enable Cimetrix to build better products and more efficiently provide our clients with the highest levels of service. 

  • Cimetrix made a number of key investments that we believe will lead to future long-term growth. We strengthened our local sales and technical support in a number of Asian countries. We developed a number of new product prototypes in collaboration with key clients leading to the introduction of an exciting new Cimetrix product in 2016. Several other new products are in development and have the potential to significantly expand our markets.

Cimetrix also held its first shareholder meeting since going private in late 2014, which provided a forum to explain to shareholders why the Company took that important step, the progress we’ve made since going private, and our future plans. As a result of generating positive cash flow from operations, Cimetrix was able to continue providing liquidity for shareholders that contacted the Company. Prior to going private, the Company had over 4.5M shares outstanding, adjusted for stock splits. As of December 31, 2016, the Company had fewer than 3.9M shares outstanding. This means that every current shareholder’s ownership percentage has increased by over 15%.

Going Forward

Going forward, industry analysts predict an increase in semiconductor capital equipment spending for 2017. In addition, we are seeing increased traction for the relatively new SEMI Standards for Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA), also known as Interface A. We believe these trends will enable us to achieve short-term incremental increases in revenue that support continued operations on a profitable basis and investments in new products and markets that will lead to longer-term step function increases in revenue.

We will continue to focus on satisfying our worldwide base of clients, improving our efficiencies and effectiveness, and executing our plan to expand the markets for Cimetrix products for long-term growth.

From all of us at Cimetrix, we thank our clients for the trust they have placed in our products and our team. We also thank our shareholders for their patience and support. 

Sincerely,

Robert H. Reback
President and Chief Executive Officer

Topics: Partners, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Working at Cimetrix, Cimetrix Culture, Announcements, Investor News

Seminar to Prepare South Korean Companies for Samsung EDA Pilot Hosted in Suwon City, South Korea

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On March 30, 2016, Linkgenesis and Cimetrix hosted an Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA) standards seminar in Suwon City, South Korea to introduce equipment suppliers, sub fab component suppliers and system integrators to the concepts, history and best practices involving the SEMI EDA standards, also known as Interface A. The seminar was in response to Samsung’s EDA pilot targeted for Line 17 in Hwaseong with further rollout in Pyeoungtaek. While Interface A is being adopted in the US, Europe, Japan, and Taiwan; this is the first usage in South Korea. Recognizing this, Linkgenesis used their strong contact base in the South Korean semiconductor industry to bring together the major fab suppliers to share knowledge about EDA and demonstrate how Linkgenesis and Cimetrix can help them meet Samsung’s requirements.

The agenda was:

  1. Introductions by Sungwoo Jung, CEO Linkgenesis and Eric Ko, Sales General Manager

  2. EDA SEMI Standards Overview by Inhyeok Paek, Managing Director Research and Development Center

  3. EDA Industry and Market Trends by Dave Faulkner, Cimetrix Executive Vice President

  4. Factory Use Cases for EDA by Brian Rubow, Cimetrix Director of Client Training and Support (and co-chair of SEMI North American DDA Task Force)

  5. Best Practices in EDA Implementations by Brian Rubow

  6. CIMPortal Plus Feature Overview by Brian Rubow

  7. Development Steps Using CIMPortal Plus by Mingyu Chung, Linkgenesis Principal Engineer

  8. Question and Answer Period

With over 70 attendees, the Q&A session was lively with many good questions and exchange of ideas. Action items and next steps have been established with the attendees as everyone involved is working toward helping the Samsung pilot be successful.


If you would like to learn more about the application of the SEMI EDA/Interface A standards, click here for 10 in-depth videos on EDA technology. You can also download a white paper on the SEMI EDA/Interface A standards here.

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

SEMICON China 2016 was the Largest Semiconductor Trade Show of the Last Five Years

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On March 15-17 in Shanghai, SEMI hosted its annual SEMICON China and PFD China, which was the world’s largest semiconductor trade show of the past five years. With an increase of 20% over last year, the show had more than 2,600 booths from companies based all over the world. Many theme pavilions at the exposition demonstrated the strength of the industry. In addition, the series of concurrent conferences and programs brought the global industry knowledge sharing to exhibitors and attendees alike.

Starting Tuesday morning, the Grand Opening Keynote was delivered by world-class industry leaders including Dr. Zhou Zixue—the Chairman of SMIC, Ding Wenwu—the President of China National IC Fund, along with the CEOs from TSMC, Applied Materials, Amkor Technology, TEL, STATS ChipPAC, and Lam Research. The presentation explored global business and technology trends, market opportunities, and shared the panel’s ideas supporting the development of China’s semiconductor industry.

The rapid rise of China’s semiconductor industry has been driven mainly by an increasing market and investments. Chinese companies and funds have been active in the recent cross-border merger and acquisition deals. On Wednesday at the “Tech Investment Forum – China 2016,” leaders of China’s IC Investment Fund and leading global investment institutions discussed investment hot-topics within the Chinese semiconductor industry.

Also on Wednesday, SEMICON hosted a “Build China IC Manufacturing Ecosystem” forum that discussed establishing a full integrated circuit (IC) manufacturing supply-chain and building manufacturing core competencies that are vital for China’s semiconductor industry. The forum included speakers from China and leading global companies from the IC design, manufacturing, equipment, and materials fields. A wide range of topics was  covered including innovation and cooperation in leading-edge frontend processes, advanced packaging technologies, eight-inch production line, and more.

Other concurrent technology sessions included “China Memory Strategic Forum,” “Technology Shape the Future – Senor Hub Solution for Wearable and IoT,” “LED China Conference 2016,” “Power Semiconductor Forum 2016,” “SEMI-JEDEC Mobile and IoT Technology Forum,” and “China Display Conference/ASID 2016.” These sessions illustrate how the Chinese semiconductor market is interested in exploring industrial developments, share its visions for the future, and to work cohesively to grow the industry within China.

This was the first year Cimetrix exhibited at SEMICON China. We were able to make some valuable connections, visit with existing customers, and establish that Chinese companies have a definite interest in our product lines as well as how we can help them find greater success. We featured our complete SECS/GEM and EDA product lines with in-booth demonstrations and presentations.

We have already made plans to attend next year’s show to further explore how we can fit into the expanding Chinese market. We are hopeful that China will open new possibilities for the continued growth of Cimetrix.

Topics: SEMI, Doing Business with Cimetrix, SEMICON

When Should I Upgrade My Cimetrix Product?

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on Feb 11, 2016 3:39:46 PM

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We live in a world where cell phone upgrades have become a way of life. Some people upgrade every time a new phone is available so that they can have the latest, greatest features and gadgets. Others prefer to keep their old phone since they are familiar with how it works and are satisfied with the phone’s functionality. While others still may upgrade because they have encountered a problem with their current phone that either can’t be fixed or has been addressed in the new model.

There are similar reasons to upgrade to a new version of a Cimetrix product. Here are a few sample questions that will help an OEM determine when is the best time to do so:

  1. Is there an issue my customers are currently facing that has been addressed in the new version of the product?

Cimetrix works to fix customer-reported issues as well as issues found during internal testing. It is not possible to make these fixes in all previously released versions of the product, so they are made as a fix in the latest released version of the product. Upgrading to the latest version benefits the OEMs by providing fixes to issues they may have reported or, more often, to issues they haven’t seen but have been reported by other OEMs.

  1. Are there added features or capabilities in the new version of the product that will improve my ability to support my customers and/or allow me to provide new functionality to my customers?

Cimetrix strives to support our customers by providing high-quality software products. As new technologies emerge and as scenarios in which our products are used evolve, we discover new ways to provide additional benefits to our OEM customers. These new capabilities are made available in new releases of our products. These improvements can include things like enhanced logging and diagnostic capabilities, new utilities for managing configuration files, or new screens for making setup easier.

  1. Am I planning a new release of my equipment control software?

Like Cimetrix, OEMs are continually looking for ways to improve their equipment and provide new features and functionality to their customers. This means that they will periodically release new versions of their equipment that may contain new hardware and/or software functionality. This is an ideal time for OEMs to also upgrade their Cimetrix software so that their new platform can take advantage of the latest fixes and enhancements that are available.

This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of questions to be asked/answered when determining the right time to upgrade to a new version of a Cimetrix product, but it does give you an indication of the type of things that should factor into your decision-making process. Each new software release has a set of Release Notes that describe the software fixes and new features that have been added in that release. These Release Notes are there to help you make the best determination as to when to upgrade, so be sure to read them carefully. And, as always, the Cimetrix Support team is available to answer any questions and provide additional information if you should need it.

Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Product Information

SEMICON Korea Proves to Be a Fruitful Business Opportunity for Cimetrix as it Moves into this New Market

Korea5.jpegKorea4.jpgKorea2.jpegKorea1.jpegKorea3.jpegCimetrix and our new distribution partner, Linkgenesis, participated in a joint booth at SEMICON Korea last week in Seoul. With over four exhibit halls located in the COEX Convention and Exhibition Center, SEMICON Korea is the largest SEMICON in terms of number of visitors—about 40,000—and included over 1,870 booths in 36,000 sq. meters of show space. The theme of the show was “Connect to Future, Market, People and Technology” with keynote speakers from leaders at Synopsys, Texas Instruments, and Audi. The show was co-located with LED Korea. Included in the schedule was also a meeting for the Information and Control Technical Committee, Korea Chapter, to work on SEMI standards.

Korea remains the second largest equipment market for the second year in a row, and represents the largest region of installed 300mm fab capacity in the world. This show has more equipment manufacturers, in my opinion, than most SEMICON shows. So, because of the show’s location, it made it an ideal opportunity for us to meet with our current worldwide equipment manufacturing customers who seemed to be present in every row, and to meet the growing list of Korean equipment manufacturers as they build volume and increase their expertise. We already have several customers in Korea and expect this number to grow over the next few years.

Our new partnership with Linkgenesis was founded on providing EDA/Interface A solutions in Korea; currently Samsung and Hynix are both looking at incorporating this technology into their manufacturing systems. As the world leader in EDA/Interface A, Cimetrix can provide superior expertise to make the adoption process efficient and successful. Linkgenesis already has business with most Korean equipment manufacturers, so, by combining forces, we bring strong local engineering support together with our world-class EDA solution, CIMPortal™ Plus.

To accelerate our penetration into Korea, we have hired Mr. Hwal Song (+82 (0) 10-5058-0895) as our Korean General Manager to accelerate our customer introductions and partnership with Linkgenesis. Song has a long history in the semiconductor software industry.

We met with several new potential customers during the show setting a strong foundation for our continued growth in the Korean market. We left the show feeling very positive about Cimetrix’ entry into Korea.

At the Information and Control Technical Committee meeting, David Francis, Director of Product Management, represented Cimetrix. In the meeting there was an introduction to work being done by SEMI Japan related to Role Based Access Control (RBAC); however, this effort is still under development by the Japan Task Force. The North America DDA Task Force is starting discussions about Freeze 3 of the EDA Standards. Tom Salmon, Vice President Global Member Services and Standards, introduced information about the SEMI Automation Technology Committee that is working on the Smart Manufacturing initiate in support of efforts coming out of Industrie 4.0 and Industrial Internet Consortium. There was also an information share on the status of efforts around standards for Recipe Management Systems that address some of the concerns with the existing standards such as Recipe and Parameter Management (RaP).

SEMICON Korea 2016 as a whole was a success for both Cimetrix and the Korean semiconductor industry. Seoul was a great backdrop for the show and we look forward to returning next year with greater market penetration and the chance to catch-up with even more clients.

To be contacted about Cimetrix' CIMPortal Plus or any of our products and/or services, please click here.

Topics: SEMI Standards, Doing Business with Cimetrix, SEMICON

Cimetrix Announces a Forward Stock Split: Promoting Incentives to Keep Our Smart and Talented Workforce

Posted by Jodi M. Juretich: Chief Financial Officer on Jan 21, 2016 12:56:00 PM

11746307754_3a5946020c.jpgWith unemployment rates at some of the lowest rates in 10 years, keeping good employees can be a challenge. Ownership in the company they work for is one benefit highly valued by many employees. We all want to be part of a growing business, make it successful, and know we will be rewarded for our hard work. Cimetrix wants to provide such ownership incentives to our employees and do it in such a way that is fair and motivating to the employees while being fiscally responsible to shareholders.

One of the impacts of the December 26, 2014 reverse stock split was the price per share value went up and number of shares went down. The pre-reverse stock split value went from $0.15 a share to a post-reverse stock split price of $1,500 a share (as of December 26, 2014). This reduction in shares and corresponding increase in share price made it fiscally impractical to use stock options as part of our incentive program moving forward. Therefore, the Cimetrix Board of Directors approved a transaction to perform a 1,000 to 1 forward split effective December 30, 2015.

The forward split transaction resulted in 3,928,000 shares outstanding as compared to the pre-forward split shares outstanding of 3,928 and decreased the share price by the same ratio. While the ownership position of all Shareholders remained the same pre and post forward-split, it adjusted the price per share to a much more manageable price for granting incentive stock options.

For Shareholders holding physical stock certificates, a letter of instruction from our Transfer Agent, Colonial Stock will be mailed out by February 1, 2016. Shareholders with stock in brokerage accounts should receive notification from their brokerage firm directly.

We believe this transaction will benefit both employees and shareholders by providing the right level of incentives to keep a smart and talented workforce.

Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Investor News

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

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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

Rorze Corporation Celebrates 30 Years with Flair

Rorze1png.pngRorze2.pngRorze3.pngRorze4.pngLast fall I was invited to attend the 30th Anniversary Celebration for Rorze Corporation and their partner company ADTEC Plasma Technology. The event took place at the Fukuyama New Castle Hotel in Fukuyama, Japan on December 14, 2015. As you may know, Rorze is an official distributor of Cimetrix products in Japan so we have a long-standing relationship including Rorze handling Cimetrix products as well as being an investor in Cimetrix Incorporated itself.

Rorze was established in 1985 by Fumio Sakiya with an ambitious slogan and aim: Never follow the competition. We shall only develop and market products which we believe are superior to those already on the market, that is, products that will become global news. Originally starting with only six engineers, Rorze is now a global player in the semiconductor industry specializing in automation systems for transferring semiconductor wafers and liquid crystal displays.

On December 14 we gathered in Fukuyama for the celebration. With 28 tables and 250 guests attending, we celebrated with speeches from Rorze and ADTEC management and local dignitaries, and enjoyed a first-class Japanese meal complete with sake. There was plenty of time to meet new people, congratulate the two 30-year-old company members, and relax in traditional Japanese fashion.

The following day Rorze hosted a visit to the Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a Shinto shrine famous for its floating Torii gate and wild deer. After taking a short ferry ride to the island, we enjoyed a day of sightseeing and a traditional Japanese lunch near the shrine. The original shrine was built in the 6th century, so there is plenty of history surrounding this world-class cultural site.

It was an honor to attend a proud moment in the history for our partner Rorze, and we wish them many years of success as the leadership transitions from Sakiya san to our good friend Fujishiro san. Cheers and congratulations.

Topics: Semiconductor Industry, Doing Business with Cimetrix

To the Cimetrix Community of Clients, Partners, Shareholders, and Employees

I believe that 2015 will be viewed as a significant turning point in the history of Cimetrix. When I accepted the role and responsibility of president and CEO of Cimetrix in 2001, Cimetrix was a publicly traded company. In addition to the normal challenges of running a business, Cimetrix was required to comply with all SEC reporting obligations. When the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) imposed additional financial reporting obligations with increased internal controls, Cimetrix was required to spend even more time and money. I’ve always believed if you are going to do something, you should do it to the best of your abilities. Consequently, Cimetrix dutifully fulfilled its quarterly SEC reporting and SOX compliance obligations. Every year independent SOX auditors performed the required annual audit and their reports always concluded that there were no material weaknesses in our financial reporting or internal controls.

IMG_5110.jpgFor a small company like Cimetrix, we can be proud of these accomplishments. We are very thankful to have had Jodi Juretich as CFO for these past eight years. Jodi managed the company’s financials and was responsible for preparing all of our SEC filings. For those of you not aware, the SOX laws include significant personal liability for the CEO and CFO in the event of any material errors or misstatements. As a result, while we had no idea how many people might read our SEC filings (other than the fact that we know our competitors all meticulously read each and every one), each filing had to be reviewed not only internally, but also by SOX compliance consultants, auditors, lawyers, and the board of directors. Significant management time and precious time with our board of directors was spent reviewing and approving SEC filings. As I hope everyone can appreciate, this represented a huge burden for a small company like Cimetrix. In addition to the hard costs that we estimated at approximately $250,000 per year, it is difficult to overstate the amount of energy in terms of management time and attention that went into reviewing and approving not only the financial statements, but the mandatory narratives for these quarterly SEC filings.

Since the introduction of SOX, many public companies have made the decision to go private, and we received a lot of advice over the years that Cimetrix would likewise be much better off as a private company. As you can imagine, however, there are many factors that go into such a decision. We always considered what is best for our shareholders, clients, and employees. Accordingly we were careful and patient in waiting for the right opportunity. From our perspective, that opportunity arose last year, which allowed us to go private without the need for external capital or any dilution to our shareholders. We believe it was an excellent use of the company’s cash to remove the ongoing “tax” of being a public company, which we accomplished in late 2014.

As I reflect back on our first year as a private company, there were a number of highlights in 2015.

  • The change in management focus has been remarkable. From the board-level to the daily and weekly operational meetings, the focus is now centered on clients, products, and strategy. How can we better serve our clients? How can we operate more effectively and efficiently?

  • Maybe the timing was coincidental, but Cimetrix also completed a major corporate organizational restructuring in early 2015. We involved ten of our key employees in an off-site workshop to map out the type of company we wanted to be going forward. Using an experienced coach and facilitator, we spent time reviewing and reaching agreement on “core” items including our shared vision and values, identification of our core customers, what is our promise to our clients, what is our long term “big hairy audacious goal,” and, equally important, what are the things we should stop doing. We identified the key functions of the company and the people with the best skills and experience to lead those functional areas. The result was a much flatter organization with opportunities for some of our most experienced engineers to assume more management responsibility. It was a very energizing and invigorating process that aligned the entire company on the path forward.

  • We also made the commitment to go through our product lines and address all outstanding issues. Over time, the number of product issues that were not urgent or high priority had been slowly building. We made the decision that in order to position the company for faster long-term growth, as well as to reflect our values and brand promise to our clients, we should refresh our current product lines and drive the number of outstanding issues down to zero. This strategy will greatly reduce the long-term costs of maintaining our product lines going forward, as well as further improve the quality and performance of our industry leading product lines. It was wonderful to see the cooperation of our different departments work through the full database of all reported issues and reach resolution. During 2015 we completed new Service Releases for our GEM and GEM300 product lines, which included SECSConnect, CIMConnect, and CIM300, that resolved all reported issues and significantly increased the test coverage for each product. Our Product Management group coordinated the effort to resolve all issues with appropriate stakeholders. Once the backlog of work was clearly identified, our Software Engineering group accepted the challenge and took great pride in doing the work they had wanted to do, but never had had the time, to improve our products and significantly increase the level of automated tests.

  • As part of the strategy to improve our customers’ experience using Cimetrix products, we expanded our customer support group into a “Client Training & Support” group with an enhanced staff of senior engineers. Their responsibility is to demonstrate Cimetrix products during the sales cycle, train new clients, and serve as proactive technical liaisons as our clients progress through the critical development cycle. Initial feedback from clients has been outstanding. In particular, I had one new client tell me that in his experience, it is natural for the level of support to fall off a bit after they place an order for a product. However, in the case of Cimetrix, we provided a very high level of attention and support during the sales cycle, and once they placed the PO, they were pleasantly surprised to see that the level of attention and support from Cimetrix actually increased. While they have had problems with other suppliers “over-promising and under-delivering,” their experience with Cimetrix has been overwhelmingly positive, as our software does what we say it will do, and we provide very responsive and passionate support with senior engineering staff.

  • We have been at the forefront of the new industry standards for “Interface A,” or its alias “Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA),” for over ten years. When these standards were initially conceived and driven by representatives from Intel and AMD, we thought these new standards made logical sense and would ultimately be adopted by the industry, but we had no idea how long it might take for these standards to be adopted. A large semiconductor foundry in the industry has become the leading user of EDA. Our strategy has been to work closely with this company and the large number of equipment makers that selected Cimetrix’ CIMPortal Plus product to meet the company’s requirements for EDA. While Cimetrix did this facilitation work on our own dime, we believe this investment has paid off handsomely as we’ve helped many of our clients achieve good success in this company's factories, and, as a result, we now have very appreciative clients all over the world that serve as solid references for Cimetrix and our EDA products. In parallel, our Sales and Account Management team has been evangelizing the benefits of EDA to other semiconductor manufacturers. The list of companies now implementing some aspect of EDA has grown to include industry leaders such as Globalfoundaries, Infineon, Inotera, Samsung, Toshiba, and TSMC. The biggest news was Samsung announcing plans for an EDA pilot project in 2016. In a recent briefing to local Korea-based equipment makers, it was reported that some large equipment makers such as Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron developed their EDA solutions in-house, but “most of the rest use Cimetrix products.” To respond to these opportunities, the Cimetrix Sales and Account Management group worked quickly to establish relationships, distribution channels, and local sales and support for Cimetrix products in Taiwan and Korea. While Cimetrix has great partners in Japan, we have learned that each country is different and customers prefer to receive support from companies within their own country, in their native language. Dave Faulkner and Alan Weber logged many miles this year explaining the best practices for EDA and establishing these very important relationships for Cimetrix, which we believe position Cimetrix to sell and support our products more effectively within these markets. In 2016 Cimetrix is scheduled to exhibit in industry trade shows in Korea, China, Taiwan, and Japan that we believe will lead to new clients in these growing markets.

  • Lastly, even though we are no longer required to publish SEC filings, we maintain the same high level of internal controls and fiscal discipline. The only difference is we don’t go through the seemingly endless quarterly reviews and narratives. The semiconductor capital equipment market is widely reported to have declined during 2015 and is expected to be flat for 2016. Cimetrix has noticed similar trends among our client base. During 2014, Cimetrix was profitable every quarter with total revenue in the $6 to 7M range with over $500,000 of adjusted EBITDA. For 2015, we continue to operate profitably on a quarterly basis and expect to have similar full-year financial results as 2014. We expect to end the year with close to $2M of cash and, of course, no debt.

Going Forward

Going forward, industry analysts predict a decrease in semiconductor capital equipment spending for 2016. Cimetrix has a number of irons in the fire that we hope will counteract the overall industry trends and enable us to grow next year. We have some major clients in adjacent markets that have the potential to contribute increased revenue. We also hope to get some traction from our efforts to add new clients and grow revenue in the Taiwanese, Korean, and Chinese markets. However, as we have learned over the years, it takes time to develop such new markets, so we are not planning to see large increases in revenue in the immediate future.

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By working closely with our clients in semiconductor and adjacent markets, we have identified a number of opportunities for new products. We plan to continue to invest in our current product lines for GEM, EDA, and Equipment Control, as well as look for opportunities to develop new products in conjunction with industry leaders.

If I sound excited about the future for Cimetrix, it is because I am. We have a great team here at Cimetrix and we added a number of solid new team members during 2015. While we have made great progress, we are never satisfied, and will strive for continual improvement as we pursue closer relationships with our clients, improvements in our efficiency and effectiveness, and above all, building great products that help our clients be successful and perform well for those they care about.

I want to thank our clients for the faith and confidence they have placed in Cimetrix’ products and team members, our employees for their passion, dedication and commitment, and our shareholders for their patience that we believe will ultimately be rewarded.

Topics: Semiconductor Industry, Market Trends, EDA, Customer Service, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Culture, Investor News

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SEMI Standards

SECS/GEM

GEM 300

Interface A/EDA

PV2 (PVECI)