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

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President's Letter to our Cimetrix Community

Posted by Robert H. Reback: President and Chief Executive Officer

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

Benefits of Being a Microsoft Gold Competency Partner

Posted by Richard Howard: Director of Tech Ops

Mar 10, 2016 1:02:00 PM

windows_8s.png

In November 2014, Cimetrix attained a status of ISV (IP & Solution Development) Gold Competency Partner with Microsoft®. Now you may be thinking “So what? What could that possibly have to do with me as a client of Cimetrix?” That’s what I would have thought if I had read the headline without knowing what was involved to both achieving and maintaining that level with Microsoft. So let me briefly share the main value of Cimetrix being a Gold Competency Partner and why it matters to our clients and to Cimetrix.

A requirement for Cimetrix to reach the Gold Level was that we had to have, at a minimum, three (3) products that passed the Gold Competency Test for Windows® 8. This test (commonly referred to as a “logo” test) ensures that the software applications adhere to patterns and practices consistent with Microsoft’s operating system architecture. The logo compatible applications must conform to the following:

  1. Compatibility and Resilience – Apps are expected to be resilient and stable, and eliminating failures helps ensure that software is more predictable, maintainable, performant, and trustworthy.

  2. Adherence to Windows Security Best Practices – Using Windows security best practices will help avoid creating exposure to Windows attack surfaces. Attack surfaces are the entry points that a malicious attacker could use to exploit the operating system by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in the target software. One of the worst security vulnerabilities is the elevation of privilege.

  3. Support Windows Security Features – The Windows operating system has many features that support system security and privacy. Apps must support these features to maintain the integrity of the operating system. Improperly compiled apps can cause buffer overruns that may, in turn, cause denial of service or allow malicious code execution.

  4. Adherence to System Restart Manager Messages – When users initiate shutdown, they usually have a strong desire to see shutdown succeed; they may be in a hurry to leave the office and just want their computers to turn off. Apps must respect this desire by not blocking shutdown. While in most cases a shutdown may not be critical, apps must be prepared for the possibility of a critical shutdown.

  5. Support of a Clean, Reversible Installation – A clean, reversible installation allows users to successfully manage (deploy and remove) apps on their systems.

  6. Digitally Signing Files and Drivers – An Authenticode digital signature allows users to be sure that the software is genuine. It also allows one to detect whether a file has been tampered with, such as if it has been infected by a virus. Kernel-mode code signing enforcement is a Windows feature known as code integrity (CI), which improves the security of the operating system by verifying the integrity of a file each time the image of the file is loaded into memory. CI detects whether malicious code has modified a system binary file. It also generates a diagnostic and system-audit log event when the signature of a kernel module fails to verify correctly.

  7. Prevention of Blocked Installations or App Launches Based on an Operating System Version Check – It is important that customers are not artificially blocked from installing or running their app when there are no technical limitations. In general, if apps were written for Windows Vista or later versions of Windows, they should not have to check the operating system version.

  8. Does Not Load Services or Drivers in Safe Mode – Safe mode allows users to diagnose and troubleshoot Windows. Drivers and services must not be set to load in safe mode unless they are needed for basic system operations of such as storage device drivers or for diagnostic and recovery purposes, such as anti-virus scanners. By default, when Windows is in safe mode, it starts only the drivers and services that came preinstalled with Windows.

  9. Follows User Account Control Guidelines – Some Windows apps run in the security context of an administrator account, and apps often request excessive user rights and Windows privileges. Controlling access to resources enables users to be in control of their systems and protect them against unwanted changes. An unwanted change can be malicious, such as a toolkit taking control of the computer, or be the result of an action made by people who have limited privileges. The most important rule for controlling access to resources is to provide the least amount “standard user context” necessary for a user to perform his or her necessary tasks. Following user account control (UAC) guidelines provides an app with the necessary permissions when they are needed by the app, without leaving the system constantly exposed to security risks. Most apps do not require administrator privileges at run time, and should be just fine running as a standard-user.

  10. Installation to the Correct Folders by Default – Users should have a consistent and secure experience with the default installation location of files, while maintaining the option to install an app in the location of their choice. It is also necessary to store app data in the correct location to allow several people to use the same computer without corrupting or overwriting each other's data and settings. Windows provides specific locations in the file system to store programs and software components, shared app data, and app data specific to a user.

Microsoft provides a suite of tests that ensure compliance to the standards listed above. Cimetrix, as part of our release process, now runs the logo testing suite against all products prior to a scheduled release. To date we have received logo certification for our latest versions of CIM300, EDAConnect, and ECCE Plus. We have also submitted the latest release of CIMConnect for endorsement. We will continue to make sure all new product releases are subject to and pass the logo certification process. Committing to making sure our products are logo tested not only ensures our continued status as a Gold Competency Partner, but it also lets our clients know of our commitment to deliver quality software that is compatible with Microsoft’s current operating systems. 

The largest benefit Cimetrix receives from our Gold Partner status is the access to Microsoft tools and technologies. As a Gold Competency Partner, Cimetrix receives premium MSDN subscriptions to ensure each engineer in Engineering, Quality Engineering, and CT&S have the most up-to-date technology tools, training, and information they need to get their respective jobs done. Having access to the right tools ensures that our engineers can be as efficient and effective as possible. In addition, the cost savings of having these tools provided to us, as opposed to having to purchase a subscription for each engineer, is significant. By saving money on tools, we can devote those monies to product development. 

Application certification and the tools provided by MSDN subscriptions are just a couple of examples of how our Gold Competency Partner status provides benefits to our clients. Cimetrix greatly values its partnership status with Microsoft. We are committed to continuing to adhere to the requirements and standards set by Microsoft in order to retain our Gold status.

Topics: Partners, CIM300, EDAConnect, ECCE, Microsoft

2013 SYSTEMA Expert Day - Solutions for Semiconductor Manufacturing

Posted by Cimetrix

Apr 2, 2013 9:15:00 AM

by Alan Weber

Director of Value-Added Products

Advanced Software Solutions for Equipment Health and Productivity Monitoring

On April 18, 2013, SYSTEMA GmbH and Cimetrix will host the second SYSTEMA Expert Day 2013 in Dresden, Germany. The focus will be on advanced software solutions for equipment health and productivity monitoring in the discrete manufacturing industries.

SYSTEMA chose the time and place for this event to make it convenient for attending the 2013 European APCM Conference (www.apcm-europe.eu), which will be held at the Dresden Hilton on April 15-17. 

There will be presentations from industry experts across the semiconductor supply chain, including semiconductor manufacturers, equipment suppliers, and software products and services suppliers.

Monitor

The topics will address equipment-related challenges facing semiconductor manufacturers, and there will be discussions and demonstrations regarding:

  • The best practices in data collection
  • Fingerprinting  - equipment  health monitoring and fault diagnosis
  • Wait Time Waste reduction using substrate-level equipment productivity tracking and analysis.

Wait Time Waste Monitor 

The agenda as it is currently:

 Time

 Topic

 Speaker

8:30 – 9:00

 Registration

 

9:00 – 9:15

 Welcome & Introduction

 Ricco Walter, SYSTEMA  GmbH

9:15 – 10:00

 Metadata Standards, Equipment Modeling, and  Conformance Testing

 Alan Weber, Cimetrix

10:00 – 10:30

 From Equipment Signals to Quality Information

 Roland Willmann, acp-IT

10:30 – 11:00

 Break

 

11:00 – 11:30

 Emerging Best Practices in Equipment Professional  Services

 David Grimes, TEL  Europe

11:30 – 12:00

 Identifying Throughput Time Issues –
 Use Cases in  Tool Productivity Monitoring

 Alan Weber, Cimetrix

12:00 – 13:30

 Lunch and Panel Discussion:
 “Future Directions in Equipment Data Analysis"

 Speaker Panel

There may be changes to the agenda, so check the SYSTEMA web page for the event for more details (see the link below).

The people who will get the most out of these presentations and discussions are

  • Equipment and process engineers
  • Field service engineers and system integration specialist
  • Advanced process control specialists
  • Automation technology developers and automation software product managers
For more information, visit the SYSTEMA Expert Day web page at http://bit.ly/YfM07U

Topics: SYSTEMA GmbH, Partners, European APCM Conference

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