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


14th Innovations Forum for Automation

Posted by David P. Faulkner: Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing

Jan 31, 2017 11:04:00 AM

The 14th innovations forum for automation was held on January 19 and 20, 2017 at the DGUV Akademie in Dresden, Germany.

14-Innovations-forum-snow.jpgCimetrix was one of the sponsors of the conference.  Dresden is hot bed for semiconductor manufacturing in Europe.  In fact, 50% of the chip output from Europe comes from Dresden. The conference is organized by the Automation Network Dresden which consists of 5 Dresden based companies; AIS, HAP, Ortner, SYSTEMA and Xenon.  SYSTEMA is a Cimetrix partner and helps us with integration projects. 

The focus of the conference is to bring the latest information on best practices, new technologies and the future of automation.  Themes this year were Smart Manufacturing, Industry 4.0 and IIOT (Industrial Internet of Things).  Presentations by Bosch about their automation roadmap, Infineon about running experiments in a highly automated fab, Kostal about standardizing MES, and IAV about the challenges of automated driving where a few of the interesting case studies and technologies.  This is a great conference to meet semiconductor professionals from Europe and learn what the European community is doing in the area of fab automation. For Cimetrix, it is good to see that equipment to host connectivity plays a key role in all the projects outlined during the conference. Sponsoring and attending gave us the opportunity to meet with current customers and start discussions with new potential customers. 


Before the conference, SYSTEMA held an Expert Day session at the SYSTEMA facility in Dresden on the morning of January 19.  The session was a series of presentations targeting predictive maintenance.  SYSTEMA and its partners have a wealth of experience in this area.  



Topics: SEMI, Events, Germany

Fall 2016 SEMI Standards Meeting

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Client Training and Support

Jan 18, 2017 11:30:00 AM

SEMI_logo_share.jpg SEMI North America Information & Control Task Force and Committee fall meetings were last held at SEMI headquarters November 7 through 9, 2016. During these meetings, SEMI announced that they are relocating their headquarters to Milpitas, CA. That move is currently underway. In the GEM 300 task force, all of the ballots failed to pass. This include ballot 5872A, 5549, 6026, 6066, and 6068. In the DDA task force, ballot 6064 also failed.

Ballot 5872A is work driven by Cimetrix to complete to work initially proposed for the E172 standard SEDD files, a feature to enable an electronic format for GEM documentation. Ballot 5872A failed due to some minor issues. SEDD files already provide partial GEM interface documentation in an XML file by listing the data variables, status variables, equipment constants, collection events and alarms. The ballot proposes to enhance SEDD files by adding a list of supported SECS-II messages, remote commands, SEMI standards (with compliance tables), and default event reports. The ballot will be reworked and resubmitted as ballot 5872B.

 Ballot 5549A is a title change and organizational change to the GEM E30 standard. Several years ago, SEMI required all standards to have an official designation, such as Guide or Specification. E30 currently has a title that fails to establish an official standard designation. Additionally, the standard currently fails to have the mandatory sections “Purpose”, “Scope”, “Limitations” like other standards. The ballot was delayed several years due to the SML copyright claim by Peer Group and the ensuing legal confrontation with SEMI. The ballot was finally submitted in 2016 and failed because it renamed the Application Notes as an Appendix instead of “Related Information”. Additionally, there was some confusion because the ballot was based on the 0611 version of E30 rather than the 0416 version which had just been published. This ballot will be reworked and resubmitted as ballot 5549B.

 Ballots 6026, 6066, 6068 and 6024 are reapproval ballots for standards E109, E130/E130.1, E116/E116.1 and E121. SEMI automatically submits all standards for re-approval every five years if a standard has not been revised. These standards all failed due to outdated references. They will all be resubmitted in 2017 with minor changes to correct the outdated references.

 The new GUI task force was approved to create a new major revision of the E95 standard. In particular, the new revision will accommodate new software and hardware technology when laying out equipment user interfaces.

 Cimetrix proposed a new activity to define new SECS-II messages for transferring recipes. The activity will result in a new ballot 6614. Currently, the GEM standard defines two ways to transfer unformatted recipes. Using simple Stream 7 messages S7F3 and S7F6, the entire recipe is part of a single message. This makes is really easy to implement in the host and equipment GEM software, but recipes are limited to about 16.7 MB (the maximum size of a single data item in any SECS-II message). The second way is using the large recipe scenarios which involve using a sequence of messages S7F43/F44, S13F1/S13F2, S13F3/F4, S13F5/F6 (repeated iteratively until there is an error), S6F11/F12 and finally S13F7/F8. Even for an expert, this is very complicated. Ballot 6614 will propose simple new messages for transferring a large recipe using a single message where the recipe can be broken up into multiple parts where each part is up to 16.7 MB in size. If approved, another ballot will attempt to add this to GEM standard. This will open the door for the GEM standard to be used more effectively and in more application where the 16.7 MB limitation posed an issue.

 Japan Information & Control committee (I&CC) announced the official withdrawal of OBEM standards E98 and E98.1. Japan also announced a GEM300A initiative which includes standards E170 and E171 and E174. E170 is the Production Recipe Standard which allows equipment to designate production and non-production recipes; where production recipes are given change protection. E171 defines predictive carrier logistics. Ballot 5601 defines Wafer Job Management. It is not clear whether or not there any IC makers will demand any of these newer standards. Of the three, E170 seems to be most useful and interesting. Predictive carrier logistics seems to be useful only for equipment that have carrier internal buffers. It attempts to help the equipment report when carriers will be ready for removal. It is not clear how E171 will compete with the upcoming E87 ballot 4946 to be submitted by the Korean Information & Control Committee in 2017. Ballot 4946 modified the E87 standard to predict when carriers will be ready to unload. Wafer Job Management is a controversial standard. Japan I&CC announced the passing of ballot 5601 (now E174) despite the strong opposition by multiple knowledgeable voters in other regions, and despite very underwhelming support from regional leaders in North America, Korea, Europe and Taiwan.

 Korean Information & Control committee announced plans to submit ballot 5832, a proposal for a new Generic Counter standard which is built upon the GEM standard. The standard would allow an equipment to define various types of generic “counters” that can be reset by the host. The counters could be used a wide variety of applications; particularly predictive maintenance. The standard as defined in the current ballot defines digital counters, analog counters and collection event counters. Voting period for this ballot just ended recently.

 Next North American I&CC meetings will be held first week in April, 2017.

Topics: SEMI Standards, Semiconductor Industry, SEMI

Semicon Europa 2016 is in the books!

Posted by Cimetrix

Nov 10, 2016 11:30:00 AM

SEMICON Europa was held in Grenoble France this year from October 25-27, 2016.  Grenoble is a hot point for semiconductor technology in France with fabs and technology centers located close by.  Typically, this trade fair moves between Dresden and Grenoble each year with attendance of about 6000. 


The Cimetrix team consisted of Dave Faulkner, EVP Sales & Marketing; Bruce Febvret, Business Development,  Europe; and Kimberly Daich, our new Marketing Manager.  Cimetrix brought our new double wide booth with new branding and was located next to our integration partner Agileo Automation.  

IMG_3302.jpgWe highlighted our CIMPortal Plus software demonstrating the benefits of the SEMI E164 standard.  Attendance seemed light this year which allowed the Cimetrix team ample time to meet with various equipment supplier customers who had exhibits at the show. Of particular interest to our customers was our advice on when and how to add Interface A to their control systems, and what impact Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing will bring.  The evening networking event was very well done; congrats to the SEMI team.IMG_3326.jpg

SEMI made an importance announcement that starting next year, SEMICON Europa will no longer move back and forth between Grenoble and Dresden; and will move to Munich in mid-November.  This allows one large show featuring SEMICON and Productronica.  SEMICON Europa will focus on semiconductor related activities and Productronica will focus on electronics assembly technologies.  This decision works very well for Cimetrix as we share customers in both industries. See you next year in Munich!



News You Can Use in SEMI Command and Control Standards, Part 2

Posted by Brian Rubow and Alan Weber

May 31, 2016 1:00:00 PM

 172SEMI.pngIn a previous blog we mentioned that two new SEMI standards, E172 and E173, demonstrated that the GEM standard was alive and well and even gaining new momentum by evolving to adopt new technology. The earlier blog focused on E172 with its SEDD files that use an XML schema to describe what is in a GEM interface. Today’s blog is about the E173 Specification for XML SECS-II Message Notation: a new way to log and document GEM/SECS messages, again using an XML schema.

A few years ago Cimetrix was involved in a project prototyping Wait Time Waste concepts and implementation alternatives. This work required Cimetrix engineers to review and extract data from many different SECS-II message log files from a variety of sources, and in the process, exposed a serious weakness in the industry. Because there was no standardized notation for logging SECS-II messages, everyone represented them differently, using different nuances and variations in their notation based loosely on SML (SECS Message Language, which is mentioned in the GEM standard). Additionally, SML itself was designed primarily for human readability, and certainly not for consumption by software programs; moreover, you can’t analyze a long message log without software to do the parsing for you. As a consequence, writing software to review the log files and to extract meaningful data from the log files was far more difficult than it should have been – SML and SML-like notations are simply not suitable for today’s needs. But now there is a suitable, industry-standard alternative. 

At Cimetrix we have utilized various notations for logging SECS-II messages for many years. In order for any notation to be useful it must meet certain criteria. First of all, it has to be easy for software to write (serialize). Secondly, it also needs to be easy for software to read (deserialize). And finally, it should be easy for humans to read and understand.

The original technique we used many years ago was based on the scripting language Tcl (pronounced “tickle”), which uses curly braces as structural delimiters. When programming within the Tcl language, this works very well. In other programming languages, however, it is easy to serialize, but not so easy to deserialize. Another technique Cimetrix had used for a few years was based on XML, which is well supported by all modern programming languages and an integral part of most internet activity. It is very easy to serialize and deserialize. And when formatted with carriage returns and indentation, it is quite easy to read for most humans (at least the ones who are software programmers or web page gurus).

Here is a subjective comparison between the notation alternatives using a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 is excellent and 1 is very poor or difficult.


At Cimetrix we decided to leverage our experience with XML, SECS/GEM standards and the SEMI Standards organization and related communities to develop a notation that everyone in the industry could benefit from. The result was this new standard: SMN. It is comprised of two parts: an XML schema defined specifically for GEM/SECS messaging; and a specification document describing how to use it (although many details of the specification are embedded as annotations within the XML schema file itself). It looks like this:


The schema is found on the SEMI website:

SMN brings the representation of SECS messages into the Internet era by defining an open, standard, XML-based notation for these messages. So what can you do with this? Here are some ideas:

  • Document individual SECS/GEM messages (the SEMI E172 SEDD file uses SMN for this). You can also document entire message scenarios.

  • Log individual SECS/GEM messages or scenarios in XML format. These can include only the messages, or might also include protocol messages (like the HSMS separate message).

  • Share message logs with others. If their software supports SMN, they can immediately make use of it. This should increase collaboration in the manufacturing community, particularly between equipment suppliers and their customers.

  • Embellish log files with comments and meaningful metadata, like data item names, variable names, collection event names, etc.

  • Analyze and extract information from log files offline for projects like Wait Time Waste, where you don’t need to process a live data stream.

  • Log messages in a raw binary format to save disk space, yet encapsulated in XML for convenience.

  • Many of the numerous XML tools in the software development community can now be used by SECS/GEM software developers. This opens up a world of opportunities.

  • Products like our CIMConnect and CIM300 can make use of SMN to make it easier to implement GEM and GEM300 interfaces on the equipment by using the SECSData element from SMN to pass data from the equipment supplier’s software into our product.

It is exciting to see the GEM standard evolve and embrace new technologies like XML to make integrating manufacturing equipment into the factories easier and easier.

For more information about these latest standards, and how you can incorporate them into your interface implementation, please contact us.

Topics: SEMI Standards, SECS/GEM, SEMI

CIMConnect: Making GEM Implementation Simple for Any Industry Using Automated Manufacturing Equipment

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Client Training and Support

May 26, 2016 1:00:00 PM


Interest in SEMI standard E30, known as the GEM standard has grown in recent years. That interest has increased in various manufacturing industries has matured in which factories are seeking to increase automation and carefully monitor equipment activity in order to increase production and product quality. Initially, the GEM standard targeted just the semiconductor industry, but then expanded to include any industry that used manufacturing equipment. In fact, a number of years ago the name of the GEM Standard changed from the “Generic Model for Communication and Control of Semiconductor Equipment” to “Generic Model for Communication and Control of Manufacturing Equipment.” Adoption by other industries is possible because the GEM standard defines generic features to control and monitor any manufacturing equipment. The GEM standard technology is not limited to semiconductor manufacturing. Over time, other industries have taken notice, especially as they try to develop increased control over their equipment.

CIMConnect™ is the best software product on the market for implementing the GEM standard. Of course CIMConnect supports all of the required GEM features as well as additional capabilities. This even includes excellent support of the Spooling feature, which saves messages that are otherwise dropped during a loss of communication. Early implementations of the GEM standard by others gave the GEM standard’s Spooling feature a bad reputation. This reputation is undeserved when Spooling is implemented by a robust product like CIMConnect. In CIMConnect, not only does Spooling work; it works well. It has been proven by customers that CIMConnect’s Spooling implementation does not lose any messages—even while under high-stress conditions. This means that when using CIMConnect, the Spooling feature can be used to effectively preserve critical data from the equipment.

Another feature that makes CIMConnect the best GEM software product is the CIMConnect Control Panel. In the new CIMConnect release, this application was completely rewritten, redesigned in .NET,  giving it a modern look and feel while adding lots of new convenient functionality. With other GEM products, the GEM interface is essentially a black box. With CIMConnect, however, the Control Panel application gives full visibility into the GEM interface. And you can run it at any time during GEM interface development and also during production. This means that you can see what reports and traces are defined, the link between reports and events, the status of all state machines, the state of each alarm, the enable status of every event, the history of occurring collection events, the history of alarm state changes and the current values of all data variables, and status variables and equipment constants. You can also view and capture the SECS-II message logging at any time for scenario diagnostics. Additionally, the CIMConnect Control Panel provides features to simulate the occurrence of collection events, collection event data, alarms, and variable data; thereby making it a built-in simulator included requiring no additional effort. And when you are ready to update your GEM documentation appendix with the list of defined collection events, alarms, status variables, data variables, and equipment constants, use the documentation builder feature.

CIMConnect has also already adopted use of new SEMI standard E173 Specification for XML SECS-II Message Notation (SMN). CIMConnect allows software applications to use SMN notation both when providing variable values to CIMConnect, as well as when getting variable values from CIMConnect. This means that you can pass data around in XML, retaining the data type and data structure information; bringing the convenience of XML into the SECS/GEM technology. You can log the GEM communication messages using SMN format making log messages much more useful, and they are able to be easily deserialized by any software applications that has XML libraries.

For additional detailed information about CIMConnect or to request a product demonstration, please contact us.

Topics: SECS/GEM, SEMI, CIMConnect

News You Can Use in SEMI Command and Control Standards

Posted by Brian Rubow and Alan Weber

May 24, 2016 1:00:00 PM


As the SEMI GEM standard celebrates its 25th birthday, you may have thought its evolution had just about run its course — but you’d be wrong. Last year, the Information and Control Committee of SEMI Standards passed two new standards that enhance the usability of the entire SECS/GEM suite of standards for equipment suppliers and semiconductor manufacturers alike: E172 SEDD and E173 SMN.

Let us talk about the first of these, the E172 Specification for the SECS Equipment Data Dictionary (SEDD) and postpone E173 Specification for XML SECS-II Message Notation (SMN) discussion for another blog. SEDD standardizes the approach for documenting an equipment’s GEM interface in a way that is both human- and computer-readable. All factories in every industry that use GEM require their equipment suppliers to provide GEM interface documentation in some electronic form for each type of equipment. This is because the GEM interface on every equipment type is unique, supporting unique features and publishing a unique set of data. Of course, the GEM standard itself requires documentation and what has to be in the documentation but does not specify how this is to be accomplished. Until now there has been no common approach or format. This has always left the equipment suppliers to come up with their own format. At best this might be in a multiple-tabbed Excel spreadsheet or a PDF file; and at worst a text document that might or might not have been accurate or even complete. And every equipment supplier completes the documentation in a different structure and style so that no two GEM documents look the same. In summary, everyone is trying to complete this GEM and factory requirement by providing documentation, but in the end what factories are receiving has to be consumed and digested differently based on the equipment supplier, and sometimes even based on the specific equipment type from the same equipment supplier. It is a lot of work for the factory just to understand exactly what is in each GEM interface.

SEDD was created to solve this problem by defining a standard XML schema for documenting a GEM interface. Equipment suppliers create an XML file that complies with the SEDD XML schema to document the GEM interface and then deliver this XML file (called an SEDD file) to the factory.

Why XML? Because XML is the perfect technology for organizing data into a uniform structure that is well supported by modern programming languages. This means that equipment suppliers can use a software program to generate the SEDD file. It also means that factories can write software to read and view the SEDD file. Moreover, they can create intelligent host applications that automatically configure themselves and adapt to a specific GEM interface.

So what’s in an SEDD file? Below is a visual representation of the SEDD file schema, identifying the major elements of the SEDD file.

172Picture1.pngSo essentially the SEDD file includes a list of the data available for collection by a host, some general information about the equipment (in the header), and the format of the data variables, status variables and equipment constants. As an example of what details are included, here are the details for collection events.

As an example, for a collection event, the SEDD file includes a list of all collection events available, and the ID, name, description, related SEMI standard, and the list of related data variables and other variables for that collection event. This is everything you need to use a collection event.


So far this is a summary of what is available today in a SEDD file. Cimetrix is leading the GEM300 task to extend the SEDD file to include additional information. This work is in SEMI ballot 5872 that proposes to extend the SEDD file to also include:

  • A list of supported SECS-II messages and the acceptable format for each message (using E172 SMN)

  • A list of support remote commands and available parameters for each remote command

  • A list compliance tables for supported SEMI standards

  • The list of predefined event reports

This is all work that was postponed from the original SEDD standard development. Hopefully ballot 5872 will pass and make SEDD files even more useful. With this additional information an SEDD file would empower GEM host software to configure itself to fully communicate with a GEM interface and make all of the features in the GEM interface available.

This is one example of how GEM technology just keeps getting better. It is not surprising that GEM is getting used in more and more industries.

For more information about this latest standard, and how you can incorporate it into your interface implementation, please contact us.

Topics: SEMI Standards, SECS/GEM, SEMI

Realizing Industry 4.0 with SEMI Standards: Right Here and Now

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations

May 6, 2016 1:00:00 PM


Since the concept was first articulated in 2011 by a German government-supported program promoting deeper integration of manufacturing software and hardware across the production value chain, the term “Industry 4.0” has gained recognition and momentum as the rallying cry for the 4th industrial revolution (see left). Wikipedia  summarizes it like this: “Industry 4.0 facilitates the vision and execution of a ‘Smart Factory.’ Within the modular structured Smart Factories of Industry 4.0, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world, and make decentralized decisions. Over the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real-time…”

This definition may lead you to ask “What aspects of Industry 4.0 are truly revolutionary, and what technologies and tools are available today that would enable me to start building “Smart[er] Factories?” In this blog, I offer some potential answers to these questions that put the vision of Industry 4.0 within reach for automation practitioners familiar with the latest generation of SEMI Standards.  


Semiconductor manufacturers have been collecting and using data from the equipment in their factories for decades. Throughout this period, device sizes and process windows have shrunk continuously according to Moore’s Law, and the SEMI Standards have evolved by necessity to support the insatiable demand for data exhibited by the process analysis and control applications that keep a modern fab running profitably (see left). The newest of these standards, the Equipment Data Acquisition suite (EDA, also known as “Interface A”), provides the power and flexibility to support a wide range of critical manufacturing applications and human users with ever-changing requirements; moreover, these standards can be deployed in a variety of system architectures without disturbing the “command and control” capabilities of existing factory systems.

“What does all this have to do with Industry 4.0?” To understand this, let’s look at the foundation of a “Smart Factory,” the collection of the many thousands of devices that might need to communicate over the so-called “Internet of Things.” 

We already see evidence that the availability of low-cost, low-power, networkable computing hardware will likely result in an explosion of “smart sensors” and other intelligent devices on the factory floor. However, as social scientists have observed over the millennia, groups of smart individuals don’t necessarily exhibit smart behavior in the aggregate, so what additional attributes must these devices possess to be good citizens of a collaborative, Industry 4.0 environment? How will these devices communicate effectively with one another? And what oversight will be required to ensure this communication achieves the ultimate manufacturing objectives?

As a starting point, I propose that each device, or manufacturing “thing,” at a minimum should be discoverable, autonomous, model-based, self-aware, communicative, and well-behaved. Depending on the role the device must play, it might also be self-monitoring, capable of defending itself (secure), and a consumer of data from other devices/systems as well as a provider. So defined, these devices would need a minimum of external monitoring and supervision (read “management overhead”) to perform their basic functions, but would rely on higher-level systems to provide specific objectives, instructions, and constraints (read “configuration, recipes, and limits”) for their operation in a given context and timeframe.

I realize that’s a lot to absorb at once, but now imagine that each of these devices could implement a subset of the services called for in the EDA standards, especially those defined in E120/E125/E164 (equipment modeling and standard metadata modeling), E132 (session management), and E134 (data collection management). Consider the collaboration among independent devices and systems this would enable…and ask yourself, how much closer to the vision of Industry 4.0 can you possibly get?

I hope the ideas above were useful…or at least thought-provoking. We’ll be developing this theme further in the coming months, but I wanted to use this blog as a conversation starter. We’d love to hear your feedback, so give us a call, or feel free to reach out to us.

Topics: SEMI, EDA, IoT

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

Posted by David P. Faulkner: Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing

Mar 29, 2016 1:00:00 PM

6195EE70-56B8-4CC9-A986-C31C95D3119F.jpg 5F222EA6-7B75-4E2E-81B5-B15D697FC27E.jpg



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

Creating Good EDA Purchasing Specifications

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations

Oct 27, 2015 1:00:00 PM

The past few months have been full of news regarding adoption of the SEMI EDA (Equipment Data Acquisition, or Interface A) suite of standards by a number of major semiconductor manufacturers, which has quickly rippled throughout the supplier community as equipment makers and software providers alike consider the implications for their product road maps and support teams.

The range of EDA-related projects now underway covers the full spectrum from basic experimentation with this new data collection paradigm on a couple of tools to integration of these data sources with factory-level predictive analytics platforms to full factory pilot deployments. And although the specific requirements for the equipment suppliers involved in these projects may seem to be very different at the outset, eventually the fab purchasing departments will set a target for EDA interface functionality and performance that is high enough to support their automation requirements for the next 5-7 years.

What this means in practice is that even though the current specifications may be fairly loose regarding which “Freeze” level (I or II) is called for and what the equipment metadata model structure and content should be, eventually the factory customers will fully understand the benefits they can achieve by requiring the latest versions of the entire EDA suite (especially the E164 Common Equipment Metadata standard), and will revise their specifications accordingly. For this reason, it makes perfect sense for equipment suppliers to plan for this level of implementation now rather than waiting for it to be required across the board. This is especially true for suppliers who are just beginning their EDA implementations, as it is no more difficult to build a Freeze II-/E164-compliant interface using today’s EDA development software products than a less capable interface.

From the factory customer usage perspective, it is important to consider the distinguishing features of the EDA standards when developing new purchasing specifications. In particular, unlike SECS/GEM, much of the EDA interface capability is dictated by the structure and content of the equipment metadata model, so this must be carefully designed to ensure that the automation requirements and performance expectations are clearly communicated. This may in turn require more direct involvement of the process, equipment, and industrial engineering teams than ever before.

Moreover, when communicating these requirements to the OEM community, it is useful to explain what strategic manufacturing objectives are being addressed and what the information will be used for; this context helps the suppliers understand why the specs may include a high level of detailed information, and can shift a potentially adversarial negotiation process more towards a teaming relationship based on shared objectives.

Fortunately, Cimetrix has many years of experience not only working in the EDA standards development process, but also providing products and services to the early fab adopters of this technology and most of their equipment suppliers. As a result, we have developed a pro forma set of EDA implementation guidelines which can easily be adapted to a specific factory’s purchasing requirements, and are happy to work with you to evaluate your needs and apply this process.  

For more information about developing good EDA purchasing specifications, check out the video we’ve prepared at the link below – and then let us how we can help!

Watch the Creating Good EDA   Purchasing Specifications Video

Topics: SEMI, Interface A, EDA

SEMICON Europa 2015 Offers Insights into Upcoming Trends in the Semiconductor Industry in Europe

Posted by David P. Faulkner: Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing

Oct 8, 2015 10:18:46 AM

This week Cimetrix exhibited at SEMICON Europa 2015 along with about 400 other companies in the semiconductor industry in Dresden, Germany. The leading trade fair offered a chance for members of the industry to learn about new topics, information, and opportunities to help support and further develop the semiconductor industry across Europe.

An estimated 6,000 were in attendance at this SEMI-sponsored event. Some of the highlights of the three-day event were:

  • The Industry 4.0 Session: The term "Industry 4.0" has been established to describe the penetration of information science into manufacturing forming the next industrial revolution. The TechArena provided information about different aspects of this process.

  • The Emerging Research, Materials and Processes Session: The nanoelectronics research community is continuously exploring a range of new materials to enable further scaling of semiconductor devices and associated technologies, as well as many potential methods to create these materials with methods that allow utilization for future technology nodes. In this session several of these new materials and process developments were discussed by experts in their specific fields. Focus was on the unique properties of the materials or processes, what makes them specifically suitable for targeted applications, how they are characterized and/or how they can be fabricated. Among the topics that were presented were the newest developments for GaN processing, two-dimensional semiconductors devices and fabrication, metal organic frameworks as low-k materials, advanced memory materials such as FeRAM or MRAM Spintronics, and Selective Atomic Layer Deposition.

  • The Semiconductor Technology Conference (STC): This conference explored the efforts of our industry to ensure productivity enhancements for future advanced technology nodes, considering both a wafer size transition, and a continuation of current state of the art and smaller wafer sizes. Updates from around the world on wafer size transition activities were heard and there was a dedicated focus on “beam-based” metrology activities from METRO450 in Israel. SEMI invited their partners to share with attendees their insights, activities, and results in the preparation of future offerings of process equipment, materials, IT/fab automation systems, facilities and fab infrastructure, in order to rise to the challenge to ensure a continued economic manufacturing of state of the art semiconductor chips.

This year we exhibited as part of Silicon Saxony's Industrie 4.0 booth that consisted of about 40 kiosks representing companies with varying focuses within the industry. On Wednesday night, Silicon Saxony played host to all of the booth's exhibitors in a "Countries of Europe"-themed party. The event gave the Cimetrix team a chance to catch-up with friends and colleagues, and discuss new business opportunities. We'd like to thank Silicon Saxony for the great networking opportunity.

We are looking forward to SEMICON Europa 2016 in Grenoble, France next October and hope to see you there. If you didn't get a chance to meet with Cimetrix in Dresden this week and you would like to learn more about our complete line of factory connectivity and equipment control software solutions, please click here

Topics: Semiconductor Industry, SEMI, SEMICON

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GEM 300

Interface A/EDA