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

Semiconductor

Implementing your Process Module Using CCF

Posted by Tim Hutchison: Senior Software Engineer

Feb 9, 2017 12:30:00 PM

You have designed the ultimate process that will revolutionize the semiconductor industry.  The parts have been collected, the process module assembled.   But now you need the software to make all the components work together.

As described in a recent CIMControlFramework (CCF) blog post around designing recipes, the recipe is the secret sauce for your process.  The recipe is used to direct the hardware to perform the process; How much time in a step, temperature, gas flow, pressure, etc.

The recipe provides directions to the process module on how to perform the processing.  How and when to enable/disable hardware components.  What setpoints to be set for components.  How much time to spend on any given step.  The process module (PM) software that you develop will take the recipe that you have defined and perform the operations using that recipe. CCF stays out of your way to allow to create your secret sauce.  

CCF makes integrating your process module easy.  CCF provides a simple process module interface that allows CCF to know when to prepare for processing, prepare for transfer, and process using the supplied recipe.

 Your process module hardware may be made up of any number and types hardware components, E.g.  Mass Flow Controller(s), valves, chuck, etc. that will be used to process the recipe. Since CCF does not use proprietary interfaces and does use C# and Visual Studio, creating interfaces to your hardware is much easier and left to you to design and develop these drivers. CCF makes it easy to connect to your hardware, whether it is via a PLC or talking directly to the hardware. 

CCF makes it incredibly simple to report data to a UI, a GEM host and even an EDA client.  Declare your status variable, update, and publish.  The data is reported to all three for you automatically!!

CCF takes the stress out of the necessary evil of moving material through the equipment to get it to your process module. It provides an interface for interacting with your process module allowing you to spend your time where it matters most - creating your secret sauce to help make you successful!

Topics: Semiconductor Industry, CIMControlFramework, Software

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

Equipment Data-Driven Continuous Improvement for 200mm Fabs

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations

Feb 23, 2016 1:03:00 PM

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The focus of the most recent SYSTEMA Expert Day, held during a snowy week in Dresden in late January 2016 in conjunction with the 13th annual innovationsforum, was “200mm Fab Enhancement” and featured a number of presentations from Systema GmbH customers and partner companies.

By way of background, there are a number of reasons for the emphasis on 200mm fab enhancement, most notably that many of these factories are enjoying a renaissance of business to meet the growing demands for IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Moreover, since the drivers for this market segment include cost, variety, and volume, the automation and operations people in these factories are faced with a new combination of challenges not seen in earlier markets.

Cimetrix’ contribution to the event was a presentation titled “Equipment Data-Driven Continuous Improvement for 200mm Fabs,” which outlined a model-based, ROI-driven approach for adding equipment data collection capabilities to existing factories. Our basic premise is that such an approach helps meet some of the automation challenges in an incremental, cost-effective way without requiring major redesign of the factory or equipment control systems.

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Since the term “model” is used in many different contexts, we first clarified what this term means in the context of SEMI equipment communications standards, and how this evolved over the past three decades. This was accomplished using a natural language analogy, which is shown in the figure below. Note that the culmination of this process to date is the EDA (Equipment Data Acquisition) metadata model called for in the latest generation of standards, which is very prescriptive in terms of structure, content, and naming conventions for the elements of a semiconductor manufacturing equipment. And even thought the specifics of this model were designed with 300mm wafer fab equipment in mind, the principles well apply to all substrate sizes, and even to the types of material, processes, and equipment found in back end assembly and test factories.

After establishing the value of explicit models for representing equipment, sensors, and other key items in a manufacturing environment, we next introduced concept of an ROI-driven strategy for evaluating the relative benefit of various data collection projects. This strategy first identifies and ranks the key manufacturing objectives that must be addressed, then poses the questions that must be answered to meet those objectives. It then identifies the data sources for the information required to answer those questions, and the data collection techniques (including software) applicable to those sources. Finally, since the original objectives can change with time and additional knowledge, they should be re-examined periodically, giving the strategy an iterative aspect as well.

In order provide specific examples for the uses of equipment data in a continuous improvement program, the presentation listed a number of application use cases that have been successfully deployed in 200mm facilities. These included (in general increasing order of complexity) substrate tracking, process execution tracking, product time measurement (aka wait time waste analysis), external sensor integration, component fingerprinting, and product traceability.

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A couple of these were then explained in more detail, showing how a basic tracking application could start by using a small subset of the equipment data, and then evolve over time to provide more advanced functions (and benefit!) as more detailed information was made available.

For those who want to understand this process in more depth, you are welcome to download the entire presentation using the link below, or call us to discuss how we can apply these ideas to your company!


“Equipment Data-Driven Continuous Improvement for 200mm Fabs"

Watch the Video

Topics: Semiconductor Industry, Market Trends, EDA, SYSTEMA GmbH, Data Collection

Software Interfaces and API Method Signatures Should Remain Consistent During a Product's Lifecycle

Posted by Derek Lindsey: Product Manager

Jan 28, 2016 1:07:00 PM

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I recently read The Martian by Andy Weir. Since this information comes out on the first page of the book, I don’t think I’m spoiling too much to say that it is the story of an astronaut, Mark Watney, who is lost in a space storm on a mission to Mars. He is presumed dead by his crewmates and abandoned on the planet. Of course he is not dead and he has to use training, skill, ingenuity, and luck to survive long enough to be rescued. Several times throughout the adventure, he has to connect life supporting utilities, tanks, airlocks, and vehicles together using the connecting valves supplied on each component. Watney says, “I’ve said this many times before, but: Hurray for standardized valve systems!” This is obviously a work of fiction, but what would have happened if he had tried to attach a holding tank to the ascent vehicle but the valves had changed between versions?

Software customers should be able to have the same expectation as Mark Watney that the valves don’t change during the mission. In the case of software, we aren’t talking about physical valves. Rather we are talking about software interfaces and API method signatures. In a real sense, the consistency of these software signatures are as mission critical as the standardized valve connections were for the astronaut in The Martian. Changing the method signatures, at the very least, requires that the users of the software have to rebuild their applications. Often times such changes require software users to have to requalify their entire tool. This places undue burden on the users of the software. Software users should be able to reasonably expect that the interfaces and API remain constant through the life of the mission (i.e. within the version of the software including minor releases and patches). A side note on this topic: If Cimetrix product management determines that a piece of software has a bug or does not conform to the SEMI standards on which our products are based, changes will be made to correct the problem. Similarly, if NASA determined that one of their connectors did not conform to the spec, they would immediately resolve the issue for the item that was out of spec.

The Cimetrix release versioning process (see our January 14, 2016 blog) allows Cimetrix personnel and Cimetrix software users to be aware of what backward compatibility guarantees are made for a specific version of Cimetrix software.

We would like our software users to be able to say, “Hurray for compatible software versions!”

Topics: Semiconductor Industry, Software

Cimetrix Partners with Linkgenesis That Will Serve as the Distributor for Our CIMPortal Plus Software in Korea

Posted by Erick Ko: Linkgenesis

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

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

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

Jan 12, 2016 1:08:00 PM

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

Posted by Bob Reback: Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Dec 29, 2015 1:00:00 PM

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

SEMICON Japan 2015 Spotlights IoT and its Effects on the Semiconductor Industry of the Future

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

Dec 26, 2015 9:22:50 AM

December 16-18 in Tokyo, SEMI played host to SEMICON Japan that was co-located with the WORLD OF IOT, a special “show-within-a-show” dedicated to the Internet of Things usages that are propelling the next generation of microelectronic advances. SEMICON Japan is of note as Japan has the world’s largest installed fab capacity with more than 4.1 million 200mm equivalent wafers per month representing a high product mix.

Over 60,000 visitors attended the three-day event who met with nearly 800 exhibitors; attended forums, technical sessions, and networking events; and had the opportunity to see new innovations and technologies within the industry.

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One highlight of the show was the Sustainable Manufacturing Pavilion. The pavilion focused on 200mm fab capacity where increased demand from IoT devices is anticipated. Revamping of the existing capacity and building cost-conscious capacity will be key to the sustainable growth of the industry. Sustainability in microelectronics manufacturing is quickly moving from a minor area of focus to a major consideration in business planning. Forward-thinking device makers, materials suppliers, and equipment manufacturers are all beginning to understand sustainable manufacturing makes economic sense for the future.

The pavilion offered many related sessions throughout SEMICON including the SEMI Technology Symposium Test Technologies for Automotive Semiconductors; the SEMI Technology Symposium on DFM in the Trends towards Fabless/Foundry Manufacturing and Alliances; the SEMI Technology Symposium on The Dreams and Reality of TSV/2.5D/3D Packaging; and a Sustainable Manufacturing and High Tech Facility Forum.

This year’s SEMICON Japan also featured a Manufacturing Innovation Pavilion that showcased inventive processes, equipment, manufacturing, components, and materials technologies that enable smarter and faster—yet cheaper—semiconductor devices to create our advancing society, industry, and life. The pavilion demonstrated that developing microelectronics technologies that will make the IoT possible requires continued innovation in semiconductor manufacturing equipment, materials, and components.

In conjunction with the Manufacturing Innovation Pavilion, SEMICON conducted a Semiconductor Executive Forum, a Lithography Business Forum, and a Manufacturing Innovation Forum to exchange ideas and share knowledge about the topics featured in the pavilion.

The WORLD OF IOT brought together leading global electronics and microelectronics companies whose innovations are driving the expansion of mobile technologies, cloud computing, and network-connected devices. Held in conjunction with SEMICON Japan, WORLD OF IOT was a "show-within-a-show". Exhibitors included such noteworthy companies as Tesla Motors, Toyota Motor Corporation, and Intel KK that demonstrated current projects and developing technologies. Executive forums and technical sessions were also offered everyday during the show.

Cimetrix was proud to be represented by our two distributors in Japan, Meidensha Corporation and Rorze Corporation, who both featured our SECS/GEM and EDA product lines. For Rorze, 2015 has been a significant year, the company celebrated its 30th anniversary. Stay tuned for my upcoming blog about its amazing anniversary celebration.

SEMICON Japan 2015 made a great end cap to the year as it focused so heavily on where the semiconductor industry is headed. Hopefully all the SEMICONs in 2016 will continue to be forward-looking as we here at Cimetrix are and remain focused on seeing how managing big data is becoming an ever more important issue within manufacturing. For more information on how EDA/Interface A is equipped to manage data acquisition in fabs, click here.

Topics: Semiconductor Industry, Interface A, EDA, SEMICON Japan, Data Management, IoT

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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