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


History of Semi Equipment Health Monitoring - Fingerprinting

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations

May 31, 2013 3:12:00 PM

I had the privilege of speaking at the annual Advanced Process Control and Manufacturing (APCM) Europe conference in April of this year. The conference supports manufacturers, suppliers and scientific community of semiconductor, photovoltaic, LED, flat panel, MEMS, and other related industries. The topics are focused on current challenges and future needs of Advanced Process Control and Manufacturing Effectiveness. The theme of this year’s conference was From Reactive to Predictive - from SPC to Model-Based Process Control.

My presentation was entitled Fingerprinting and FDC: First Cousins in the Equipment Productivity Family. One of the areas I covered in that presentation was how the whole concept of fingerprinting came about.

I’ve written about Equipment Health Monitoring, also known as fingerprinting, previously – see my blog post about Fingerprinting at SEMICON West at SEMICON West Follow Up: ISMI Fingerprinting Project. While the term fingerprinting has only recently been applied to this technology, the use of this type of application goes back a decade to the advent of Equipment Engineering Systems (EES), when the first major implementation of that technology was in the Renesas factory in Naka, Japan.

The basic idea was that semiconductor manufacturers could learn a great deal by collecting detailed trace and event information from the equipment to understand the behavior of low-level mechanisms, with the assumption that if the low-level mechanisms were exhibiting proper behaviors, then the entire machine would be operating within its specifications. This is the fundamental idea behind fingerprinting.

 Fingerprinting History

Back in 2003, when Renesas was implementing their EES program, there were no good standards for collecting low-level, high-speed trace information, and so the Renesas engineers expended a great deal of effort generating custom interfaces to collect trace and event data they could then feed into a common database. However, as they pursued the effort, they showed what kinds of analysis of the collected data could give them insight into the performance of their fab’s equipment.

As this idea gained traction, Shigeru Kobayashi one of the industry thought leaders at Renesas, proposed through the ITRS and SEMATECH to create a program around the idea of using detailed trace information to improve the equipment quality over time. This suggestion triggered the inception of the EEQA (Enhanced Equipment Quality Assurance) program.

The basic idea of the EEQA program, as it was with EES, was to collect low-level trace information about equipment mechanisms. That data could be shared with the equipment suppliers to show them how the equipment was operating in a production situation in order to improve the design and performance of the machines over time.

The EEQA program lasted more than 3 years at ISMI. There were a number of studies regarding the specific information that equipment engineers and fab engineers could use to characterize different equipment mechanisms and components. There were even a couple of prototypes developed to show how that information could be collected, modeled, and visualized and reported. However, the structural problem with the program was that it placed expectations on the OEMs regarding the amount of data that would need to be collected (and the effort involved in enabling this) without clearly showing the benefit to these suppliers. Consequently, the EEQA program lost support and lay fallow for a while.

However, the basic ideas of EEQA were preserved and folded into a subsequent SEMATECH umbrella program called equipment health monitoring (EHM). However, the energy for the program happened when someone attached an intuitive label to this notion of characterizing a component with its raw data. People attached the term “fingerprint” to that basic model, and the idea of grouping these trace values into a fingerprinting model that would have a specific value that manufacturing can track over time made the basic idea easier to understand and support. When EEQA was re-characterized and re-labeled as fingerprinting, the concept, and understanding the benefit that accrues from collecting and analyzing low-level trace data, finally took hold.

There was one other vital step necessary for the program to catch on in people’s minds. Equipment suppliers and fabs realized that to do predictive maintenance, as well as other health monitoring activities, they needed the data that they could collect using fingerprinting. With the basic concept of a fingerprint understood, and the recognition of the real value that collecting and analyzing the data would provide, both the equipment suppliers and the semiconductor manufacturers began to recognize the need for Equipment Health Monitoring, or fingerprinting.

The key component of any successful fingerprinting program is in-depth equipment domain knowledge, whether that comes from the OEM or from extensive use of that equipment at a specific fab. The OEM is the best official source, but the program can be initiated by the end user as well.

I will discuss more about the presentation at APCM Europe in my next blog post. Stay tuned.

Topics: Semiconductor Industry, ISMI, Fingerprinting

Follow Up: Wait Time Waste Project and SEMICON West

Posted by Cimetrix

Sep 21, 2012 1:57:00 PM

By Alan Weber
Director of Value-Added Products, Cimetrix Inc.

One of the subjects that was of great interest during our very successful SEMICON West 2012 experience was the Wait Time Waste project in which Cimetrix and ISMI/SEMATECH are collaborating. The interest in this project was widespread, and the reason is that, even though both OEMs and semiconductor fabs have focused on improving productivity for decades, they recognize they can still make significant progress with better and more actionable data.

What also intrigues the industry is how to overcome the challenges of gathering and employing the data. For example, there is no standard format for communication logs and equipment logs, and so both OEMs and fabs are discussing the possibility of s a common approach that will work for them. Moreover, the events that may be important to time waste analysis may not be consistently available from the equipment, and now both OEMs and fabs want to know how best to address this issue. Moreover, they want to understand how best to visualize the wafer processing time to determine where to focus their attention.

WTWRI resized 600

These issues, and many more, are discussed in the article I co-authored, “Wait Time Waste (WTW) Metrics, Methodology, and Support Tools”. This article first appeared in Future Fab International, Issue 42,  (c) 2012,, published by Mazik Media, Mill Valley, CA. It not only discusses the background on the subject and the challenges the industry faces, but also discusses future directions for continual enhancement of the time waste analysis.

If you are interested in reading the article, visit: WTW Article.  Contact me at if you have comments or questions at


SEMICON West follow up – ISMI Fingerprinting Project

Posted by Cimetrix

Aug 1, 2012 9:34:00 AM

By: Alan Weber
Director of Value Added Products

We had a great time at SEMICON West as ISMI/SEMATECH and Cimetrix talked about our joint fingerprinting project. There was a lot of interest in fingerprinting, which is also sometimes known as equipment health monitoring (EHM) or signature analysis. In a semiconductor manufacturing context, fingerprinting is defined as “a set of data variables associated with the component being fingerprinted, sampled at some rate over a time period, transformed and then analyzed using a set of mathematical techniques, to generate a result representing the state of the unit during that timeframe.”

Both equipment suppliers and semiconductor fabs are interested in fingerprinting since currently there is no automated process to predict imminent equipment problems. Predictive maintenance applications are still in the R&D phase, so today, fabs are using statistical process control (SPC) to monitor equipment to predict potential problems, or fault detection after the machine fails or exhibits sub-optimal performance. With fingerprinting, the fab’s equipment engineers can monitor the behavior of key equipment components to predict imminent problems and alert the fab to take the necessary steps to prevent equipment failure.

Equipment engineers and process engineers at the fabs can also use fingerprinting to characterize newly delivered tools and establish a baseline for key component behavior across a range of operating points. What’s more, they can verify fingerprints of key equipment components during or after a production run to ensure the component process capability is in normal operating range. They might also define a special set of fingerprints to help understand why a particular tool has had an increase in FDC violations.

Fingerprinting Dashboard resized 600Fingerprinting drill down dials resized 600

Fingerprinting drill down_charts


Fingerprinting drill down data resized 600

One of the points we explained to people about the project we are developing with ISMI is that the fingerprinting application is not dependent on any other Cimetrix software product. The application is standalone, and can be used on many different types of machines. Moreover, this application is for both new equipment in development as well as equipment currently deployed in the field.

If you would like to hear more about the fingerprinting project, or see a demo, contact Jackie Ferrell at ISMI, or go to Contact Cimetrix and tell us how we can connect.


Cimetrix and ISMI Collaboration - See Us at SEMICON West

Posted by Cimetrix

Jul 6, 2012 2:01:00 PM

This is an exciting time as we prepare for SEMICON West 2012 in San Francisco next week.  We have demonstrations of our products, and we are particularly excited to discuss two projects we are actively working on with ISMI. These projects, which are high priorities for ISMI’s member companies, are Fingerprinting, also known as Equipment Health Monitoring, and a Wait Time Waste Reference Implementation. Active ISMI companies on these project teams include Micron, Intel, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, IBM, and TSMC.


In Fingerprinting, the concept is to define and execute models for monitoring tool component behavior. Think of this as generating tool-specific EPIs (equipment performance indicators). Once that is done, we can compare the real-time results with both specifications and historical production values, and generate conclusions regarding the equipment. To support the process, companies can incorporate data from external sources, such a fab maintenance databases, or engineering databases.

Fingerprinting ISMI Project

Ultimately, OEMs will be able to ensure consistency of delivered equipment, reduce tool acceptance time and effort, and reduce their field service costs. Semiconductor fabs will be able to use this application to get detailed equipment component performance measurements, and monitor equipment health KPIs to get an early warning of any impending failures.

Wait Time Waste

ISMI’s Wait Time Waste project was initiated to develop metrics to measure time waste systematically, as well as defining the data collection and analysis methodology to apply these metrics. A potential industry standard will provide a common language to measure and identify wait time waste, and create a market for software suppliers to provide the measurement and analysis tools.

Wait Time Waste Reference Implementation

Semiconductor fabs will be able to identify sources of variation in basic tool throughput and establish an objective basis for productivity improvement. Equipment suppliers will also benefit by having the ability to improve their tool-level scheduling algorithms and measure their products’ performance levels.

Cimetrix project engineers will be available in the booth to demonstrate these applications and discuss how they can be of value to our customers and prospects. These types of projects represent a further broadening of Cimetrix’ capabilities into equipment- and factory-level analysis applications that leverage the company’s strengths in accessing and communicating high quality equipment data.

We hope to see you at Booth #1241 at SEMICON West!


EDA/Interface A and ISMI Common Metadata: Guidelines versus Rules

Posted by Cimetrix

Apr 25, 2012 11:05:00 AM

by David Francis
Product Manager

During SEMICON West last year, ISMI made a presentation about a proposed new standard: EDA Common Metadata. EDA stands for Equipment Data Acquisition and is also known as Interface A. The EDA Common Metadata was being balloted as SEMI Document number 5002. That initial ballot failed and so did the next attempt. However, recently, on the third attempt, document 5002B passed SEMI’s Information & Control Committee voting. While it still needs to pass the SEMI ISC Audits & Review Committee before it becomes an official SEMI standard, the 5002B ballot seems to be gaining support.

The SEMI E30, E40, E87, E90, E94, E116, E148, and E157 all define communication and behavior standards for semiconductor processing and metrology equipment. These standards produce the content of the EDA data. The E120, E125, E128, E132, E134, and E138 standards define how to establish and use web services that use SOAP/XML messages over HTTP or HTTPS to transfer data from the equipment to client applications.

So if all these standards already exist for defining EDA content, why was a Common Metadata necessary?

Although he wasn’t talking about SEMI Standards, I think Captain Barbosa in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl captured the reason best when he said, “The code is more what you would call guidelines than actual rules.” Within the standards there is a lot of room for interpretation regarding the details of how they are implemented. The EDA Common Metadata establishes more specificity around the guidelines for how the equipment data should be represented. The goal is to improve the quality and consistency of the data provided through the EDA interface so that host-side client applications can make better use of the data.


In 2010, ISMI announced a new Freeze Version of the EDA standards known as Freeze Version 2 or the 0710 Freeze Version. This defined the specific version of each of the individual EDA standards that should be used by equipment manufacturers to create an EDA interface. For more about the freeze versions for EDA/Interface A, read the Cimetrix Introduction to SEMI EDA/Interface A Standards.

The new SEMI 5002B document provides a single, agreed, interpretation of the various SEMI standards as represented in a common metadata definition, which will help drive consistency in how the standards are implemented. The consistency that should result from the new Common Metadata will help remove some of the uncertainty that may have prevented many companies from developing host-side client applications that can use the EDA data produced by the equipment.

EDA developers may download and use both the EDA 1105 freeze version and the EDA 0710 freeze of the Metadata Conformance Analyzer at no charge by completing the form at

Topics: SEMI Standards, EDA, ISMI

New Freeze Version of Interface A Requires New ECCE Version

Posted by Cimetrix

Feb 2, 2011 9:45:00 AM

by Brian Rubow
Quality Customer Support Manager

Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA), also known as Interface A, is a suite of SEMI standards developed to meet the demand for high-speed access to more and better process data.

The primary motivation for IC makers such as Intel and Samsung to implement EDA is the continued drive for productivity.  In order to ensure compatibility between semiconductor equipment companies and semiconductor manufacturers EDA implementations, ISMI and its member companies have initiated the concept of "freeze versions”.  A freeze version simply identifies a specific version of the EDA SEMI standards that ISMI members agree to use.  The freeze version concept has allowed EDA to be deployed while allowing the EDA standards to continue to be enhanced.

The industry has adopted the initial ISMI 1105 freeze version for over 5 years.  Recently, ISMI announced a new 0710 freeze version that specifies standards approved at the 2010 Spring SEMI standards meetings.  The 0710 standards take advantage of what the industry learned since the original freeze version with many improvements and some new capabilities. 

 SEC GEM Diagram 2 resized 600



Equipment manufacturers developing systems to comply with the 1105 freeze version use Equipment Client Connection Emulator (ECCE) as reference client software to check their EDA solutions.  Manufacturers developing equipment to comply with the new 0710 version will use a new EDA Reference Client to exercise and verify the EDA functionality available in the equipment.  The new EDA Reference Client will be available from the Cimetrix web site by April 30, 2011.

If you would like more information about what is in the new freeze version, take a look at the November 30, 2010 e-Manufacturing workshop presentation on the ISMI web site:

Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, SEMI, Interface A, ISMI, EDAConnect, ECCE

Interface A New Freeze Version - are you prepared?

Posted by Cimetrix

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

Interface A - Are we there yet?

Posted by Cimetrix

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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