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Industry News, Trends, and Technology, and Standards Updates

EDA Testing – How is this accomplished today??

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Feb 7, 2017 1:30:00 PM

Over the past several months, we have posted a number of blogs dealing with the testing of SEMI’s Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA / aka Interface A) standards suite. The first of these posts connected the importance of this topic to the increased adoption of the EDA standards across the industry, and broke the overall problem domain into its three major components. 

Subsequent postings provided additional detail in each of these areas:EDA_Icon.png

To bring this series to a close, this post addresses the “as-is” state of EDA testing as it is practiced today by the advanced semiconductor manufacturers who are requiring EDA interfaces on new equipment purchases and the suppliers who provide that equipment. 

For compliance testing, the three options in general use include: 

  1. ECCE Plus product- this software tool was originally developed under contract with the International Sematech Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI) to validate the fidelity, usability, and interoperability of early versions of the standard; it can used to manually execute a set of procedures documented in the “ISMI Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA) Evaluation Method for the July 2010 Standards Freeze Level: Version 1.0” document (see title page below) to exercise most of the capabilities called for in the standard; note that this is the only commercially available solution among the three.

ISMI.png

  1. Company-specific test suites – one major chip manufacturer (and early adopter of EDA) maintains its own partially-automated set of compliance tests, and provides this system to its equipment suppliers as a pre-shipment test vehicle. This set of tests is then used in the fab as part of the tool acceptance process; however, this system also includes a number of company-specific automation scenarios, which are not available for outside use. This highlights the need to support custom extensions in an industry-validated tester if it is to be commercially viable.

  2. In-house custom test clients – this is a variation of #2 that some of the major OEMs have chosen as their economies of scale dictate; the problems with this approach are that a) the test clients must be kept current with the EDA standards, which are themselves a moving target, and b) unless thoroughly validated by the eventual customers of the equipment, there is no guarantee that passing these tests will satisfy the final acceptance criteria for a given factory. 

For performance and stability testing, there are no automated solutions currently available. The ISMI EDA Evaluation Method does describe some rudimentary performance evaluation procedures, but these no longer reflect the expectations of the customers with many years of accumulated EDA production experience. Clearly a better solution is needed.

Finally, for metadata model conformance testing, the only available solution is the Metadata Conformance Analyzer (MCA) that was commissioned by Sematech and implemented by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). It has not been updated in almost five years, and exhibits a number of known issues when applied to a SEMI E164-compliant equipment model (E164 = Specification for EDA Common Metadata), so it will be increasingly insufficient as more companies require full Freeze II / E164 specification compliance. 

The good news in all this is that Cimetrix has recognized and anticipated this emerging need, and is actively addressing it on our product roadmap. If you want to know more about EDA testing and/or discuss your specific needs, please contact Cimetrix for a demonstration of this exciting new capability!

Topics: Interface A, EDA, EDAConnect, ECCE, Data

Benefits of Being a Microsoft Gold Competency Partner

Posted by Richard Howard: Director of Tech Ops on 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

To Better Serve Our Clients, We Will Be Discontinuing the Mailing of CDs and Hardcopy COAs for Runtime Licenses

We here at Cimetrix are excited that we are implementing a new process that will both benefit our clients and the environment. We have always delivered our software runtime license orders to our clients on CDs along with hardcopies of their Certificates of Authenticity (COA). Well, starting January 1st, we will begin delivering orders to our clients through emails that will include a digital COA for each runtime license and instructions on how to download their software.

As a company, we have always prided our self on providing the finest quality customer experience possible so we feel that this new process is just one more step in improving our service. There are a number of benefits of this change:

  • Most of our clients integrate Cimetrix’s software with their own software by using the Software Development Kit (SDK), most runtime license CDs are simply thrown away, which in today’s world is really not acceptable. By making this simple change, we will be eliminating thousands of pounds of potential waste.

  • We are constantly improving our software products and the latest version should always be obtained from our Support website (cimetrix.com/online-support)—not from a CD stored on a shelf somewhere for who knows how long. This change ensures that the latest version of our software will always be used.

  • The shipping cost and time delay by sending CDs by a carrier will be eliminated which will be a direct cost savings to you. 

  • The proof-of-purchase for our runtime license is the COA, not the CD. The COA number is what is used to obtain the license code using our online license generator. 

So the only thing we need our clients to do is to make sure we have an email address on file of where they would like their future orders sent. It’s that simple. We do foresee a period of adjustment for some clients, so for those that still want CDs and hardcopy COAs delivered, we will have this option available for an additional fee.

Of course, if you have any questions or comments regarding this policy, we are always happy to hear from you.  You can contact us at Orders@Cimetrix.com.

Topics: CIMPortal, CIMControlFramework, Support, CIM300, CIMConnect, EDAConnect, SECSConnect

New Freeze Version of Interface A Requires New ECCE Version

Posted by Cimetrix on Feb 2, 2011 9:45:00 AM

by Brian Rubow
Quality Customer Support Manager

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

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

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

 SEC GEM Diagram 2 resized 600

 

 

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

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

http://www.sematech.org/meetings/archives/emanufacturing/9112/02-InterfaceA.pdf.

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

Cimetrix at SEMICON Japan 2010

Posted by Cimetrix on Dec 14, 2010 11:35:00 AM

By Dave Faulkner

Executive VP, Sales and Marketing, Cimetrix

We had a strong showing at SEMICON Japan at the Makuhari Messe December 1 - 3.  Attendance was brisk, and Cimetrix products were on display at both the Meiden and the Rorze booths.  This event was a great opportunity for us, since we have just started Cimetrix Japan K.K. effective November 25, 2010.  The new Cimetrix company will provide both new market development and customer support for the Japan marketplace.

In the Meiden booth, Cimetrix EDA/Interface A products were on display.  In addition, Meiden highlighted the partnership between Meiden, DSD, and Cimetrix, which allows DSD and Meiden to offer complete EDA solutions using Cimetrix technology.  These solutions are available to both equipment suppliers and IC manufacturers, and Meiden listed the benefits and sample architectures for each group. 

 Meiden Booth resized 600

 Meiden Booth Signs resized 600

Cimetrix CIMControlFramework (CCF) was on display at the Rorze booth running a complete 450mm vacuum platform.  Many visitors stopped to watch this powerful demonstration.  Cimetrix products were also highlighted, along with Rorze’s unique ability to deliver a complete hardware/software platform solution for equipment suppliers using Rorze and Cimetrix technology. 

 Rorze Booth resized 600

 Rorze Booth 2 resized 600

One other highlight of the show was visiting the Axcelis booth where they highlighted their Integra plasma dry strip cleaning system that uses the Cimetrix CIMControlFramework.

 Axcelis Booth Integra Tool using CCF resized 600

We also learned at the show that a new top 20 OEM in Japan would adopt Cimetrix connectivity products.  It is great to see how companies are using our solutions to get to their products up and running in wafer fabs around the world.

Thanks to all those people who stopped by the booths.  Please let us know if you need more information about Cimetrix connectivity or tool control solutions.

Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, Semiconductor Industry, Interface A, CIMPortal, SEMICON Japan, CIMControlFramework, EDAConnect, Data Collection, Japan, Equipment Automation Framework, Rorze

Interface A New Freeze Version - are you prepared?

Posted by Cimetrix on Jun 8, 2010 4:00:00 AM

by Brian Rubow,
Product Manager

Be Prepared for the EDA Freeze VersionI have been a Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America for about 5 years now. Our troop goes camping several times a year. Utah offers a lot of beautiful and interesting camping areas. The variety is remarkable. In our troop we spent a lot of time teaching and preparing the boys to not only have fun, but also be safe and wise in their fun. Some planning ahead, training and common sense can make a huge difference. Nearly every week, I have our Senior Patrol Leader help all of the scouts in our troop recite a number of memorized phrases including the Scout Oath, Law, Slogan, Motto and sometimes even the Outdoor Code. The Scout Motto is the famous one known to almost everyone in the world; "Be Prepared". Reciting it every week helps our minds to remember to focus on being prepared for whatever may come. We prepare the boys to handle emergency situations such as medical and weather related emergencies. "Be Prepared" applies not only to scouting activities like camping, canoeing and hiking, but also to school, our careers and everything we do.

At Cimetrix we also like to "Be Prepared". In particular, at the time we designed our EDA (Interface A) products, CIMPortal and EDAConnect we recognized a need to support multiple versions of the standard. Since 2006, there has been only one allowed version of the EDA standards. This is the ISMI Freeze Version which specifies the 1105 version of the SEMI® standards. At Cimetrix we knew that at some point in the future the 1105 ISMI Freeze Version would not be the only version implemented. As co-chair of the DDA Task Force responsible for the development of the SEMI EDA standards, I can personally attest that the standards have continued to change, mature and improve. At Cimetrix, we predicted from the start that at some point in the future, factories would want these new features in the standards and that ISMI would announce another EDA Freeze Version.

Due to the nature of the underlying SOAP/XML technology, the client and equipment are required to use the same version of the SEMI standards. With one and only one ISMI Freeze Version, this is easy. Everyone's implementation works with everyone else's implementation. With more than one ISMI Freeze Version, it is more complicated. Each equipment supplier has to support each ISMI Freeze Version to communicate with the different client software at different factories or even in the same factory. Each factory has to support each ISMI Freeze Version to communicate with the different equipment implementing different versions.

ISMI is poised to announce another EDA Freeze Version soon. Certainly the factories using the EDA standards will expect equipment suppliers to adopt the new version as soon as possible. And certainly factory data collection applications will want to adopt the new version and take advantage of the new features.

To "Be Prepared" for the future, Cimetrix originally designed both EDA products, CIMPortal and EDAConnect, for the future. Each product is designed with an abstraction layer to be able to support multiple EDA versions at the same time. This makes it possible for Cimetrix to adopt the new EDA versions without rearchitecting the products. In turn, this passes on tremendous value to our customers who also will not have to rearchitect their solutions. In fact, Cimetrix customer should be able to upgrade to new Freeze Versions with relative ease. It is nice to "Be Prepared".

Schedule a meeting at SEMICON® West 2010 to discuss your Interface A needs further!
Or visit us at Booth #2331, South Hall.

You might also be interested:

Topics: SEMI Standards, SEMI, Interface A, CIMPortal, ISMI, Product Information, EDAConnect

Interface A - Are we there yet?

Posted by Cimetrix on Sep 10, 2009 2:20:00 PM

by Doug Rust,
Director, Quality Customer Support & co-chair of the SEMI North America GEM300 Task Force

In April, the suite of SEMI software standards commonly referred to as "Interface A" turned 5 years old.

Coincidentally, also in April, the SEMI standards North America Information and Control Committee approved an important revision to these standards to incorporate many of the lessons learned from early implementations.

SEMATECH, through its subsidiary ISMI, for years has been consistent in communicating how important Interface A (a.k.a. - Equipment Data Acquisition - EDA) is to the current and future manufacturing automation needs of its member companies. This message was repeated again at an ISMI workshop I attended this last Spring. ISMI had explained that the SEMATECH member companies (which make up 50 percent of the worldwide chip market) wanted ISMI to focus on a smaller number of projects with short-term benefits for 2009. Interface A (EDA) is on this short list.

In support of the ISMI members' vision for a better quality data communication interface, Cimetrix has been actively developing Interface A software since before the standards were published with early prototypes based on draft documents back in 2002-2003. We have had a continuous product improvement program in place since 2004 for our CIMPortal product which implements the Equipment Data Acquisition standards on the server side. We had previews of our EDAConnect factory-side EDA product at SEMICONWest 2007 and launched the product later that year.

So, as I was sitting in the workshop listening to the speaker from ISMI say once again what an important enabling technology Interface A was for current and Next Generation Factories (NGF), I thought to myself, "I keep hearing ‘we need it, we need it'. I wonder why more companies aren't using it"?

Why do you think companies have been slow to deliver Interface A (EDA) solutions on their equipment and using it in their fabs?

You might also be interested in:

Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, SEMI Standards, CIMPortal, ISMI, SEMATECH, EDAConnect

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