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Industry News, Trends, and Technology, and Standards Updates

2015 Advanced Process Control (APC) Conference Focused on High Quality Equipment Data

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Oct 23, 2015 1:00:00 PM





Cimetrix participated in the recent Advanced Process Control (APC) Conference in Austin, Texas, along with more than 120 control professionals across the semiconductor manufacturing industry. This conference, now in its 27th year, is one of only a few global events dedicated to the domain of semiconductor process control and directly supporting technologies, so it was encouraging to see its attendance and energy level rebound from its low water mark a few years ago. The calendar may have indicated it was fall, but nobody told the weather forecasters… Austin set temperature records that week, even hitting 99°F one day!

Given the importance of high quality equipment data for all types of equipment- and factory-level process control applications, it is vital that Cimetrix and its customers understand the current requirements and future direction of this industry segment. Many presentations addressed these topics indirectly, but perhaps the newest insights in this regard came not from the wafer fabrication processes, but rather from the Back End, OSAT (Outsourced Assembly and Test), and advanced packaging segments.

As evidence, a number of presenters mentioned the growing need for equipment data collection in these areas, and cited the following reasons: 1) increasing demands by the consumer product manufacturing customers of these facilities (especially smart phone providers, but others as well) for equipment data to support their product quality and supply chain optimization initiatives; 2) emphasis on the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) productivity metrics, and the event/status data needed to support their automated calculation; 3) broader deployment of multi-variate Fault Detection and Classification (FDC) applications, which require more equipment trace data parameters than have typically been collected from back end equipment; and finally, 4) actual feedback control based on back end metrology – the best example of this presented last week was an application on dicing equipment that showed how kerf data collection and analysis can be used to adjust saw process parameters

The takeaway for Cimetrix in all this is that the back end equipment suppliers will need to anticipate this demand and may need to upgrade their interface capabilities substantially.

Since some of Cimetrix’ customers have pioneered the application of the latest generation of SEMI EDA (Equipment Data Acquisition) / Interface A standards in plumbing data from external “add-on” sensors to fault detection applications, I presented a generalization of this approach during one of technical sessions. This presentation, “Data Fusion at the Source: Standards and Technologies for Seamless Sensor Integration” is available on the Cimetrix website for those who want to learn more about how this is done.

05_Weber_Presentation_Cover.jpg       Download Presentation  

Check back next week to learn more about creating good EDA/Interface A purchasing specifications.

Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, Market Trends, Interface A, EDA, Events, Data Management, Data

EDA/Interface A versus SECS/GEM SEMI Standards

Posted by Cimetrix on Oct 13, 2014 4:11:00 PM

With the growing interest in the use of SEMI EDA/Interface A standards, we have been getting a great deal of requests for the difference between Interface A and SECS/GEM

For a quick comparison, here is a table to showing some of the differences between Interface A and SECS/GEM:

EDA/Interface A versus SECS/GEM 

EDA/Interface A






Can be configured for SSL-secured communications

HSMS is not secure

Equipment Model

You can upload a description of the logical structure of the equipment which includes parameters, events, and exceptions assigned to modules, subsystems, and I/O devices

Equipment information is found in a manual provided with the equipment, but often without the necessary context


Start & stop triggers that may include one or more events and/or exceptions  Traces begin via a SECS message and end when a specified number of samples are collected

Event Reports

Specify an event and an optional set of parameters to be collected when that event occurs

GEM host defines collections of parameters called reports, then links one or more reports to one or more events. The same report may be linked to multiple events if needed.

Data Collection Reports

E134 allows data collection to be throttled if data collection is reducing equipment performance below a specified level

GEM does not throttle back data collection


Additional Resources:

Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, SEMI Standards, SECS/GEM, Interface A

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:

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

Revisiting SECS/GEM: The Other Side of the Wire

Posted by Cimetrix on Dec 6, 2010 2:49:00 PM

by David Francis
Product Manager

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to work with some large semiconductor companies, including, Intel, Motorola, Lucent, and Siltronic.  I developed interface acceptance tests for equipment they purchased.  At that time, the SEMI SECS/GEM standards were still new and not widely adopted.  Many of the tool vendors had little or no previous experience writing SECS/GEM interfaces, and they were often uncertain about the details of the standards, along with worrying about how they could comply with them.  Chief among the vendors’ concerns was how they could meet their design schedules without loading down their engineering teams with this new requirement placed upon them. 

Over the intervening years I worked in the scheduling and dispatching area of automated semiconductor manufacturing, and in that time I lost track of the SECS/GEM standards and their adoption by the wafer fabs.

IBM Fishkill Photo resized 600


Recently I joined Cimetrix as Product Manager for the connectivity and tool automation products, and now I am back in the world of SECS/GEM standards.  A lot has changed since those early years, as fabs moved from 200mm to 300mm, and now considering 450mm wafer fabrication.  In addition, the geometries have shrunk from 1 micron down to 40nm and below.  However, I still see many of the same industry concerns as I did many years ago, even though there has been little change to the SECS/GEM standards.

The real change I see is the wide spread adoption of the SECS/GEM standard.  Previously, only a few leading edge companies requested SECS/GEM interfaces on their tools and were working feverishly to set up host-side equipment controls.  Today, SECS/GEM is well rooted in 300mm semiconductor manufacturing and tool vendors have very mature automation interfaces.

The move to 300mm processing created an ideal opportunity for the development and adoption of the GEM300 standards. Building new 300mm tools created an ideal environment for designing in the GEM300 standards right from the start.

More recently, new standards, like Interface A, have emerged from their R&D phase and are now going through the same refining process that SECS/GEM went through a decade ago.  These new standards will continue to support the industry’s efforts to create more efficient devices, at ever-decreasing geometries, with increased reliability and yield quality.

It is exciting to be working with these standards again and looking at them from the other end of the wire – the tool-side as opposed to my previous fab-side experience.  I look forward to writing more about how the tool vendors are adopting, and demonstrating compliance, to the new standards.

Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Interface A, GEM Interface

So Much Data, So Little Time

Posted by Cimetrix on Jun 24, 2010 6:00:00 AM

by Dave Faulkner,
EVP, Sales & Marketing

Engineers love data. Business people love information. But it all starts with high-quality, real-time data. The possibilities are endless with good data.

As an equipment supplier, history probably has you living with a tool architecture from the early 300mm days. The focus was on implementing AMHS systems and meeting the GEM300 standards. A data driven architecture wasn't on the radar screen. And it wasn't a business priority. Times have changed. Fabs started asking for more data by creating the SEMI Interface A standards - and equipment suppliers are learning they can produce more productive equipment by leveraging the right data.

Interface A was an interesting concept when it started in the early 2000s. Discoverable data available to the fabs in real time would seem to be the answer to many problems. But the adoption has been less than stellar - even with strong endorsement and technical support by ISMI. Lack of fab side applications plumbed to use the Interface A data and "ownership" issues of the data haven't helped. These are real business problems that must be solved and will be solved with the next wave of fab purchases.

But what have we learned as equipment suppliers and software providers? Tool data models are helpful. Self description is great. We can create high performance data gathering applications that integrate with existing tool control architectures to make data available and controllable by the equipment supplier. Look at the performance of CIMPortal, our comprehensive equipment data acquisition (EDA) solution. We also learned that given the opportunity to "start over", we can create new tool control architectures that are data driven and prepared for the future. Look at CIMControlFramework. So the data is available - or you can make it available with an existing or new tool control architecture.

Let's put this data to work. Either to benefit you as the tool supplier or to help your customer. How is your tool accepted at the fabs? Do you have contingencies on your customer's payments? Does tool uptime have an impact on the tool price? Are your warranty costs too high? You get the point. With high-quality, real-time data at our fingertips, we can solve some of these business issues. We are at the beginning of a phase where the tool supplier makes use of this data and it directly impacts business results. Tool side fault detection, preventative maintenance, whatever is needed. The important point is we are finally starting from a strong foundation with the right data at the right time - and it can lead to increased margins or higher levels of customer satisfaction. Bring us your business problem and let's build something together to put this data to good use. Let's do it now!

You might also be interested in:

Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, SEMI Standards, Interface A, CIMPortal, CIMControlFramework, Equipment Control-Software Products, Data Collection, Data Management, Data

New to the Interface A Standards?

Posted by Cimetrix on Nov 3, 2009 11:16:00 AM

Interface A WebinarIndustry organizations, such as SEMI and ISMI, have been touting the benefits of the Interface A, also known as EDA, standards for years. This year, SEMI approved an important revision to these standards to incorporate many of the lessons learned from early implementations. In addition, 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.

Want to learn more?

Cimetrix is hosting a FREE webinar outlining the features and benefits of the Interface A standards. The material will be presented by Doug Rust, Director of Quality Customer Support and co-chair of the SEMI North America GEM300 Task Force.

FREE WEBINAR: Interface A Features & Benefits
Date: Thursday, November 12, 2009
Time: 8:00 am MST/ 7:00 am PST/ 10:00 am EST/ 3:00 pm GMT
Duration: 1 hour

Learn from Cimetrix's experienced engineering staff just what the Interface A standards are and how you can benefit from better quality and higher quantity data.
  • The key features & benefits of Interface A
  • Data & reporting features available through Interface A
  • The role of Interface A in manufacturing

You may also be interested in:


Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, SEMI Standards, Interface A, Events

Data... and more Data

Posted by Cimetrix on Oct 21, 2009 8:02:00 AM

There has been an underlying theme emerging in the semiconductor industry over the last couple of years. Do you know what it is? DATA. Give me more DATA.

Equipment suppliers today are required to support more than a dozen SEMI® standards related to factory automation and a host of commonly used substrate-handling components such as robots and vacuum system hardware. More DATA.

They also need to support a new suite of “Equipment Engineering Capabilities” (EEC) including: e-Diagnostics, data collection, recipe management, data quality, fault detection and classification, run-to-run control and predictive maintenance. The key underlying factor for most of these features is... DATA.

Initiatives by other industry organizations, such as the International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative’s (ISMI) 300mm NGF, also focus on... you guessed it, DATA. Increasing the accessibility of high-quality data, and then, using the data to improve efficiency and productivity. In addition, factories are also requiring DATA storage and access on and off the tool for future performance analysis.

Attend this week's FREE WEBINAR on "Using Data to Improve Equipment Efficiency and Performance" to learn about the significant manufacturing benefits gained from improved access to higher quality and quantity of data.

The webinar will take place on Thursday, October 22
at 8:00 am MT/ 4:00 pm UTC.


You might also be interested in:

Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, CIMControlFramework, Events, Data Collection

A case for custom programming tools when creating equipment models.

Posted by Cimetrix on Oct 13, 2009 8:00:00 AM

by Allyn Sullivan,
Software Engineer

I have recently worked with several customers who were in the process of building CIMPortal equipment models for their tools. Some were using the Equipment Model Developer (EMD) which ships with CIMPortal while others were programmatically building their models using the CxModel API. Working with both sets of customers, I saw a very real need for customers to develop programming tools to create equipment models instead of relying on the EMD alone.

Every model has a unique equipment configuration. Building an equipment model through the EMD is a laborious process. Each node of the equipment is added individually with a minimal amount of automation. Although suitable for those new to CIMPortal and initial model development, the EMD is not practical for building the many unique equipment models required for every tool configuration that a manufacturer makes.

Most manufacturers use a base tool to which they can add components to meet their customer's specification. Equipment configuration data can then be imported from the bill of materials (BoM), parts inventory, or other data from the manufacturing system of record. The model builder application can import this data (from a database or spreadsheet, for example) and use the CxModel API to generate several unique equipment models automatically. The application should be able to easily generate equipment models for any tool in the manufacturer's inventory.

Developing the proper tools that meet your individual needs is the most efficient way of creating equipment models for CIMPortal. You'll save time over using the EMD and have more consistent equipment models across tools.

Questions about developing equipment models?
Post a comment or send me an email.
Want to learn more about the Interface A Standards?
Cimetrix will be hosting a webinar on November 12, outlining the features & benefits of Interface A - presented by Doug Rust.


You might also be interested in:

Topics: Equipment Data Acquisition, CIMPortal, Programming Tools, Equipment Models, EMD

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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