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