Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

Machine Learning in Smart Manufacturing: Technologies You Should Be Tracking Now

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Jun 3, 2021 11:45:00 AM

shutterstock_510171997-1We’re drowning in data but still thirsting for wisdom… This is a paraphrase of what one of the virology doctors interviewed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic said about the challenges they faced in charting a course of action using the myriad volumes of data being collected around the world. The sentiment reminded me that in an entirely separate but no less complex domain: electronics manufacturers face similar challenges using data from the thousands of disparate sources in a factory to make the decisions that ultimately determine the viability of their enterprises.

To the extent that these two domains have a similar problem statement, they also share a set of solution technologies. Among them is Machine Learning (ML), which is a promising subset of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The essence of Machine Learning is using data collected from past events to develop and train a model that can make reliable predictions about the outcome of future, as-yet-unseen events.

Machine Learning technology is already more ubiquitous than you might imagine. For instance, if you’ve ever 1) ordered one of Amazon’s product recommendations based on your previous purchases and search history, 2) seen the names on the faces of people in your photo library (and updated the ones it got wrong), 3) rated your satisfaction with a Netflix movie you’ve just watched, or 4) interacted with one of the language translation apps on your smart phone, congratulations—you are now an integral part of the Machine Learning ecosystem of the suppliers of those everyday products.

Beyond these familiar examples, two factors have contributed to the rapid ascendance of ML as a viable production technology: the availability of massive amounts of data and affordable storage and processing power to analyze it. As a result, Machine Learning is now seen as a key enabling technology for Smart Manufacturing in multiple industries and at multiple positions along the value chain.

Documented use cases in semiconductor front-end factories include production scheduling and dispatching, process analysis and excursion prediction, equipment FDC (fault detection and classification), preventive maintenance, failure prediction, trace data analysis, and so on. Equipment suppliers are likewise looking for ways to add value to their products by offering ML-based capabilities as an option. Semiconductor back-end and SMT factories and their respective equipment suppliers are also actively evaluating ML technologies. These instances all have one thing in common: the need for quality equipment data… and lots of it.

Two of the most prevalent approaches to Machine Learning are 1) supervised learning, which uses labelled data samples to develop a model that predicts the labels for future samples; and 2) unsupervised learning, which can use unlabeled data samples to develop a model of expected behavior that can predict deviations from that behavior for future samples.

Both categories have direct applications in manufacturing and include a range of specific algorithms that may be suited to various problem types. The trick is knowing which technique(s) to apply in which situations, and once chosen, how to tune a particular technique for a given problem.
machine-learning1.1

One category of public-domain algorithms that has shown significant promise for commercial applications has been labelled “Deep Learning,” and it refers to a variety of “Artificial Neural Net” approaches. These algorithms fall into the supervised learning category but can nevertheless be applied in situations where the labels are not known a priori (e.g., analyzing system log files to detect anomalous behavior).

A frequently-cited candidate for a supervised learning algorithm is predictive maintenance, which uses as input a high-dimensional (i.e., lots of parameters) trace vector of equipment parameters with a binary label (“good” or “failed”). With enough production history this data can be used to train and validate a failure prediction model that would improve on the “run to fail” or “just in case” maintenance strategies used today.

Likewise, a good candidate for unsupervised learning is anomaly detection using equipment log file data (could also include trace data) as input. Many equipment suppliers save this kind of data for “after the fact” analysis of problems that occur in manufacturing without a clear sense of what might be useful. Deep Learning algorithms are particularly adept at using high dimensional data to create complex mathematical models that represent “normal” behavior and can be used to flag “abnormal” behavior as it happens.

From an implementation standpoint, there is no “one size fits all” Machine Learning package or library that can address the full range of potential opportunities. Moreover, since Machine Learning is only a component (albeit a vital one) of an overall solution system, it is important to understand how all the pieces fit together when considering these technologies for a specific problem. Subsequent posts in this series will explore these topics in greater detail, so stay tuned for additional information about how to map these new technologies into your product and problem space. However, if your need is more urgent, click the button below to see how we can explore this exciting new area together.

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Topics: Industry Highlights, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Machine Learning

Standards Activity Report SEMI NA Spring 2021

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on May 12, 2021 11:45:00 AM

Stcked_Standards_logoFor the first time since the Fall of 2019, the SEMI North America Information & Control Committee (I&CC) was finally able to meet and conduct business online. Throughout all of 2020, the I&CC was not able to meet because SEMI regulations did not at that time allow voting in online meetings. Instead, only the task forces have been meeting. As a result, any passing ballots, unless super clean, had to wait for adjudication in the North America I&CC.

This year, prior to the I&CC meeting on April 1 and 2, all of the associated task forces also met as usual, including the GEM 300, Diagnostic Data Acquisition (DDA), and Advanced Backend Factory Integration (ABFI) task forces. Moreover, the I&CC was able to conduct all the unresolved business that had accumulated over the last year. During the committee meeting, the I&CC successfully used the SEMI Virtual Meeting (SVM) software which runs in an internet browser, allows each committee member to log in, and allows for official voting to take place during the meeting. The North America I&CC will meet again during the summer.

GEM 300 Task Force

In the GEM 300 task force, the primary activity was to officially redefine its charter and scope to match what it has already been doing for the last 20 years. Each SEMI task force defines a “Task Force Organization Force” document (aka TFOF) to establish its charter and scope. Somehow, the GEM 300 task force charter and scope were severely out of date.

In addition to this update, some changes to the E5 standard finally passed voting, pending some final approval. The E5 changes include several new messages and establish definitions for commonly used data collection terminology. The new messages complement the existing set of messages by allowing the host to query information about the current data collection setup. Currently, it is common for a host program to reset and redefine all data collection after first connecting to an equipment because there has been no way to query this information. With these new messages, the host will be able to query the setup and confirm that no data collection has changed while disconnected. Finally, it will be easier to test GEM interfaces with these new messages.

The task force already approved tasks to consider some major work to the GEM standard. The task force is also considering changes to the E116 standard, but there is some resistance to these changes. Here is a summary table of the GEM-related standards activity from across the globe.

Region

Ballot

Standard(s)

Status

Topic

South Korea

5832

New

Cycle 5, 2020

Generic Counter

South Korea

6695

E87

Adjudication

Ready to unload prediction changes.

North America

6572

E30

Development

Add Stream 21, more stream 2, Cleanup Process Program Management.

North America

6552

E5

Adjudicated Spring 2021

Data collection setup, terminology. Ratification ballot proposed.

2 line-items pending since Summer 2020

North America

6598

E37, E37.1

Cycle 7, 2020

Standardize TCP/IP port numbers

North America

6597

E173

Adjudicated Spring 2021

Minor updates, clarification

Pending since Spring 2020.

North America

6647

E116

SNARF Revision

Recommendations from the ABFI task force

North America

6683

E148

Development

Line item revision

 

DDA Task Force

In the Diagnostic Data Acquisition (DDA) task force (responsible for the EDA standards, aka Interface A), freeze 3 development is moving forward. All of the ballots still failed as expected. The number of remaining technical issues nevertheless has dwindled to just a handful. E132, E125, and especially E164 need the most work.

Following is a summary of the previously completed work.

Standard (Ballot)

Ballot Status

Lead

E132 (6337)

Published - 04/29/2019

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)

E138 (6336)

Published - 03/15/2019

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)

E134 (6335)

Published – 03/29/2019

Inhyeok Paek (Link Genesis)

E120 (6434)

Published – 05/30/2019

Inna Skvortsova (SEMI)

E145 (6436)

Published – 05/31/2019

Inna Skvortsova (SEMI)

E178 (6300)

Published – 01/10/2020

Mitch Sakamoto (ZAMA)

E179 (6344A)

Published – 03/27/2020

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)


And here is a summary of the work in progress.

Standard (Ballot)

Ballot Status

Lead

E125 (6718)

Development

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)

Hyungsu Kim (Doople)

E132 (6719)

Development

Mitch Sakamoto (ZAMA)
Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

E134 (6720)

Development

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)

E164

 

Alan Weber (Cimetrix)

E125.2 (6345)

Development

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

E132.2 (6346E)

Development

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

E134.2 (6347)

Development

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

E125 (6527C)

To Abolish

Replaced by 6718

E132 (6571C)

To Abolish

Replaced by 6719

E134 (6553C)

To Abolish

Replaced by 6720

 

All of the failed ballots will be reworked and resubmitted for voting. For many of these ballots, it will be the sixth time to go through the SEMI ballot procedure. Consensus is very nearly achieved, and the defects in the ballots have been identified and corrected. Additionally, there are plans to modify SEMI E179, the standard that defines how gRPC will be utilized. While testing EDA freeze 3, Cimetrix has identified two simple ways to modify the E179 protocol buffer files in order to reduce overhead. These and a few other changes will be proposed in a new ballot.

One of the last changes to the freeze 3 standards will be the introduction of passwords. In the current freeze 1 and freeze 2 versions, there are no passwords. Any client that knows a valid, unused Access Control List entry (ACL, the equivalent of a user name) can connect; therefore, there really isn’t any authentication unless using the SSL protocol with certificates. Passwords will enhance EDA security and facilitate EDA interface setup by allowing client applications to use the same ACL entry while defining a unique password to block other clients from using the same entry. The final E132 ballot will finalize the password feature.

The task force leaders are asking the voting members to raise any final issues before these ballots are submitted to SEMI to the next voting cycle so that we can approve these standards, give implementers a chance to experiment with EDA freeze 3, raise any serious issues that impede the implementation, and then propose the final changes which incorporate that feedback. Until a version of these standards is formally approved, it will be difficult to get concrete and widespread feedback on the new technology, which is a necessary precursor to its adoption and use.

ABFI Task Force

The Advanced Factory Integration task force passed more changes in E142 without controversy. The task force plans to create E142.4, another GEM implementation of E142, designed for larger wafer maps to allow for increased traceability possibilities. Additionally, the task force continues to make plans to develop an adoption matrix as a new standard to describe when GEM and GEM 300 standards should be adopted in backend equipment based on equipment features.

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, EDA/Interface A, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, GEM300, Standards

Announcing the Release of CIMControlFramework 6.0

Posted by Derek Lindsey: Product Manager on Apr 14, 2021 11:30:00 AM

The Cimetrix Connectivity Group of PDF Solutions is happy to announce that Cimetrix CIMControlFrameworkTM (CCF) version 6.0 is now available for download.

CCF is a software development kit (SDK) that enables users to design and implement a high-quality equipment control solution using provided components for supervisory control, material handling, operator interface, platform and process control, and automation requirements. CCF is built on the reliable Cimetrix connectivity products which provide GEM/GEM300/EDA interface functionality.

We have previously done a series of blog posts on the functionality of CCF. The same great functionality users have come to expect with CCF is still available, but in a cleaner, slicker, easier to use package.

Reorganized directory structure

In versions before CCF 6.0, core CCF packages (packages provided by CCF) were contained in the same directory as sample code and runtime files. This made it more difficult for CCF users to understand what code was required to be customized and what code was basic to CCF. (Note: you can still customize the basic CCF functionality, but it is not required.) In this release, we modified the directory structure to identify more clearly what is core CCF and what is sample or custom code. This is closer to the structure followed by CCF applications. The following diagram shows the new structure:

CCF-6.0-announcement-pic1In addition to clarifying CCF components, the new structure allows us to easily develop samples for additional equipment types. New samples will be added in future versions of CCF.

New WPF framework

Since CCF started providing a Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) framework, we have received feedback on WPF features user would like added to the framework. Also, our engineers have continued to improve their WPF expertise, which has led to other improvements. CCF 6.0 includes the requested changes and best practice improvements in the new WPF framework. Some of these changes include:

  • Simplified hierarchy which makes it easier to understand which objects to inherit from.

CCF-6.0-announcement-pic2

  • Centralized style elements to allow users to change the look and feel (skin) of the operator interface to meet their needs.
  • Enhanced controls library that provides common controls for use in creating equipment control.
  • Increased E95 compliance, available with a configurable control panel.
  • Accelerated screen creation is possible with the change in hierarchy organization and the enhanced control library.
  • Richer set of native WPF screens. In earlier versions, CCF had several native WPF screens, but also had many screens created with WinForms and hosted in WPF. CCF 6.0 has all native WPF screens in the WPF sample operator interface. These screens can be reused, customized, or replaced. (Note: WinForms screens are also still available in CCF 6.0.)

The following image shows the main screen of the WPF operator interface for the CCF atmospheric equipment sample application. Most of the controls on the screen are available for use and customization by CCF developers.

CCF-6.0-announcement-pic3Updated samples

CCF has contained fully functional atmospheric and vacuum sample applications for many years. Over the years, we have improved the functionality for scheduling, simulation, and device interface interaction. However, the samples had always remained the same. With CCF 6.0, the atmospheric and vacuum sample applications were updated to take advantage of the other changes that have been made in CCF. These changes to the samples make them more useful in illustrating the proper use of CCF and providing a better starting point for creating custom applications.

Spring cleaning

CCF was originally released the summer of 2011 making it 10 years-old. Over the years, CCF has had several methods, objects and devices become obsolete. They were not removed from the product for backward compatibility reasons, but they were marked as obsolete. Because CCF 6.0 is a major release, we took the opportunity to do some spring cleaning and remove the obsolete items. CCF is now cleaner and tighter, and using it is much clearer.

Training material and upgrade guide

All the PowerPoint slides, lab documents, and corresponding solutions used for training developers on CCF have been updated for CCF 6.0. We have already successfully used the new training materials with a few customers to help them get started with their equipment control application development.

As part of CCF 6.0, we provide a CCF 5.10 to CCF 6.0 Upgrade Guide that contains detailed instructions on how to migrate applications created using previous versions of CCF to CCF 6.0.

Conclusion

We have been looking forward to the CCF 6.0 release for a long time and are excited for developers to get started using it. We are confident existing users will like the changes and that new users will have a good springboard in getting started with their equipment control application needs. We look forward to working with you and hearing from you.

Topics: Industry Highlights, Equipment Control-Software Products, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Cimetrix Products

18th Innovation Forum for Automation: Successful Transition of an Important Tradition

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Mar 17, 2021 1:45:00 PM

Dresden-christmas-marketNear the end of January for almost two decades, the companies that form the Automation Network Dresden (AND) have hosted a gathering of semiconductor automation professionals in the picturesque setting of Dresden, Germany. The chill of winter during this event has always been in stark contrast to the warmth of the reception the speakers and participants enjoy at this event. The big question this year was “how could the organizers possibly maintain this tradition amid the COVID-19 pandemic and its travel restrictions?"

Automation people being a creative bunch, they responded by offering a series of free, half-day “digital events” spread across the first four months of the year, and each hosted by one of the AND member companies: SYSTEMA, Fabmatics, XENON, and Kontron AIS. The first two sessions are now in the record books, and as a participant in both, I can attest that no momentum or value has been lost. The only exception is the lack of the forum’s famous evening event, which will undoubtedly return next year when the virus is behind us.

The first session of the year was hosted by SYSTEMA on January 28 with the theme of Datafication and Automation: The new normal for semiconductor manufacturing. I was privileged to among the invited speakers, and shared the agenda with Manfred Austen of SYSTEMA (always a hard act to follow!), Jean-Marc Philippe of ST/Micro Singapore, Axel Wogawa of SYSTEMA, and Klaus Kleilein of Fabmatics.

In this context, I chose the topic of semiconductor backend automation, and you can download my presentation “Wafer Fab Best Practices for Backend Automation”. Key takeaways from this presentation include the industry drivers for higher levels of backend automation, the unique challenges this poses when compared to wafer fab automation (see the figure highlighting multiple material transformations below), the role that industry standards in many categories will play in this process, and last but not least, the importance of defining explicit integration message sequences between all the equipment and the factory systems that bring them together into fully automated operations. This latter insight was one of the key enablers for the wafer fab transition from 200mm to 300mm, and the concept equally applies in the backend.

18-innovations-forum-pic1The second event in the series was hosted by Fabmatics on February 25, 2021, with the enticing theme of Forever Young: Automation Makeover Rejuvenates Golden Age Fabs. It featured speakers from Bosch, Nexperia, Cohu, and SYSTEMA.

The next event will be hosted by Xenon on March 25, 2021 with the theme Digitalization Meets Mechanical Engineering, and the final event hosted by Kontron AIS on April 29, 2021 (theme still TBD – stay tuned). For more information about this digital event series, visit the Automation Network Dresden website.

For help in crafting and executing your own backend automation strategy, or any other topic related to advanced manufacturing connectivity and control, please contact us by clicking the button below. 

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Topics: Industry Highlights, Events, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

SEMICON China 2021 is coming up next week!

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Mar 9, 2021 7:00:00 PM

Read the pre-show blog of the SEMICON China 2021 show today. Read it now in Chinese or below in English.

Semicon-china-2021-blog

SEMICON China 2021将于2021年3月17日至19日在上海新国际博览中心举办。矽美科公司将一如既往的参加,希望在展会上和你们相遇!

如果您也在此展会,欢迎您光临我们位于N3-3157号展位。我们将展出GEM和EDA/Interface A产品以及我们的智能工厂平台。

SEMICON China将我们和世界上发展最快、最具活力的微电子市场联系在一起,并为参展商提供了一个为中国最专业的人士展示我们的产品和技术的平台。

在我们为展会做准备的过程中,我们欢迎任何会议邀约,无论是在线的还是具体地点面对面的,请单击下面的按钮预约。如果您也参与展会,我们随时恭候您光临我们的展位。希望我们很快能见面!

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Semicon-china-2021-blog

SEMICON China 2021, an in-person, is taking place March 17-19, 2021 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center. Cimetrix Incorporated will be exhibiting and we hope to see many of you there!

If you are able to be at the exhibition during this time, we encourage you to visit Cimetrix Incorporated at booth N3 3157. We will be featuring our GEM and EDA/Interface A products as well as our Smart Factory Platform.

SEMICON China connects people in the world’s fastest growing and most dynamic microelectronics market and gives exhibitors the platform to showcase our products and technologies in front of the most qualified audience of industry professionals in China.

As we prepare for the show, we welcome any meeting requests, both virtual or in-person depending on location, by clicking the button below. Or if you are able to be in Shanghai during SEMICON, we look forward to you dropping by our booth at any time. We hope to meet with you soon!

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Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Events, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

Technologies Unite Global Summit is Almost Here!

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Feb 9, 2021 8:30:00 AM

tech-unite

SEMI Europa is sponsoring a new event – Technologies Unite Global Summit – and we are excited to announce that Cimetrix Incorporated will have a virtual booth at this online event on 15-19 February, 2021. 

Technologies Unite Global Summit brings together the global microelectronics supply chain, manufacturers, and the end users for this digital experience that spotlights digital transformation and microelectronics industry innovation and growth. This summit will feature eight forums presenting the latest innovations, as well as seven pavilions from around the world where exhibitors and attendees can connect with the global SEMI community.

After a year of cancelled and postponed in-person events, we are happy to participate in these virtual events that gives all of a us a chance to re-connect with our global communities. Be sure to register for and attend this brand new event and be sure to stop by our booth!

Thomas Simon, the General Manager of our Europe office will be available during booth hours to host discussions about all of our products, and particularly our Cimetrix Sapience® Smart Factory Platform.

We hope to see you there. You can contact our team any time to schedule a demo or make an appointment by clicking the button below.

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Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Events, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

Cimetrix Incorporated is a Utah Top Workplace

Posted by Brice Laris MPC, CPLP; Human Resources Manager on Jan 12, 2021 11:59:00 AM

utah-top-workplaces-2020

In December, 2020, Cimetrix Incorporated was honored as a Utah Top Workplace by the Salt Lake Tribune.

The Salt Lake Tribune partnered with Philadephia-based Energage to rank the Top Workplaces in Utah. Energage surveyed workers from over 1,300 Utah companies on a variety of topics to rate their workplace. Out of this pool, just 100 companies were selected as Utah Top Workplaces. Companies were then placed in categories by number of employees. Cimetrix was ranked 12th out of the 45 finalist companies in the “small business category”.

At Cimetrix, we believe the key to a successful business is having a values based culture that focuses on ensuring our customer’s success and having everyone in alignment. Employees need to be doing a job they love, working on something they are passionate about and being rewarded for contributing to the company’s success.

We are honored that Cimetrix employees feel so passionate about the culture we’ve built that we were selected at a Utah Top Workplace for 2020.

While we were recently acquired and will now operate as the Cimetrix Connectivity Group within PDF Solutions, that doesn’t change our commitment to employees, culture and the core values that have made us successful. Employees drive our success and we look forward to a 2021 filled with new opportunities and potential.

Topics: Partners, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Company Culture, Events

SEMICON Japan 2020 is Going Virtual!

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Dec 7, 2020 5:30:00 PM

SEMICON Japan 2020 is going virtual and we will be there! You can read about it now in Japanese or below in English.

1080x608_SNS_en-1

今年のSEMICON JapanはCovid 19の世界的大流行の影響もあり、仮想環境での開催となりました。Cimetrix Incorporatedは12月14〜17日の4日間バーチャルブースに出展致しますので、皆様のご来訪を心よりお待ちしております。

日本では現在、半導体製造装置の3分の1と材料の半分以上を世界の半導体製造業界に供給しています。 世界がよりスマートになるにつれて、革新的なソリューションとテクノロジーがこのような大きな展示会で紹介され続けています。

Cimetrixは、GEM機器の接続と制御、およびEDA /interfaceA活用して装置データの収集、提供を行う事が出来ます。

Cimetrix Sapienceは、単一のイベント駆動型フレームワーク内でさまざまな工場設備をシームレスに接続するスマートファクトリープラットフォームです。 Sapienceプラットフォームにより、工場のITシステムは工場の機器に直接アクセスでき、その結果として生じる機器の通信、データ収集、およびプロセス制御により、インダストリー4.0、ビッグデータ、およびスマートファクトリーのイニシアチブの基盤が確立されます。

もし別途ご相談いただければ、デモンストレーションを行う事も出来ますので、お気軽にご連絡ください。

それでは2020年の最後のSEMICONショーにて皆様に会える事を心から楽しみにしています。

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1080x608_SNS_en-1

After Cancelling the show several months ago in Tokyo, due in part to the Covid 19 world-wide pandemic, SEMICON Japan reconsidered and decided to go forward with the Exposition in a virtual environment. Cimetrix Incorporated (now a part of PDF Solutions) is proud and excited to be participating with a virtual booth on the 14-17 of December and we hope to see many of you there!

Japan supplies one third of the equipment and more than half of all materials to the global semiconductor manufacturing industry. As the world gets smarter, innovative solutions and technologies continue to be introduced at big shows like this.

We will be able to schedule demos of our GEM equipment connectivity and control software solutions, as well as our EDA/Interface A products.

The Cimetrix Sapience platform will also be available for a demonstration by visiting our virtual booth to make an appointment with our team. Sapience is the Smart Factory Platform that seamlessly connects varying factory equipment within a single event-driven framework. The Sapience platform allows factory IT systems direct access to factory equipment, and the resulting equipment communication, data collection and process control establishes the foundation for Industry 4.0, Big Data and Smart Factory initiatives.

We encourage you to join the Cimetrix Japan team at our virtual booth at this last SEMICON show of 2020. We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy, and hope to see you soon!

To schedule a demo prior to the show, click the button below.

Meet with Us

 

Topics: Semiconductor Industry, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Events, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

PDF Solutions to Acquire Smart Manufacturing and Factory Connectivity Expert Cimetrix

Posted by Cimetrix on Nov 19, 2020 2:00:00 PM

Acquisition Provides Potential of Unrivaled Intelligence for Semiconductor, Packaging, and Electronics Manufacturing

PDF Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ: PDFS) today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Cimetrix Incorporated. The combination of Cimetrix® connectivity products and platforms with PDF Solutions’ Exensio® analytics platform powered by machine learning, is intended to enable IC, assembly, and electronics manufacturer customers to extract more intelligence – not just data – from their factory floor, to build more reliable ICs and systems at lower manufacturing costs.

“Cimetrix is excited to join the PDF Solutions team. Our two companies share the vision and commitment to provide a smart manufacturing platform that seamlessly connects high quality data from the factory floor to cloud based analytics platforms,” said Bob Reback, Chairman, President, and CEO at Cimetrix. “We believe this combination will provide tremendous opportunities for Cimetrix customers to benefit from the cloud, AI/ML, and analytics capabilities from PDF Solutions, and PDF customers will benefit from higher quality data originating from the factory floor using Cimetrix’s connectivity products and platforms.”

To read more, please view press release here.

 

Topics: Industry Highlights, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Investor News

Thinking Ahead: Why would I want to buy EDA client libraries for my equipment?

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Nov 11, 2020 11:30:00 AM

Background and Audience

Over the past several years, I have written numerous blog postings heralding the benefits of the SEMI Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA, also known as Interface A) standards, promoting their adoption by 300mm wafer fabs around the world, explaining how to develop robust purchase specs to ensure the interfaces delivered by the equipment suppliers meet the fab customers’ expectations, describing how the various components of the standards work together and the importance of the embedded equipment model, and finally explaining how to run compliance and performance tests on an EDA interface to validate its fitness for production use. The target audience for most of these postings has been the factory users, for they are the ones who increasingly depend on detailed equipment and process data to profitably run their enterprises.

By contrast, this posting is aimed at the equipment suppliers who are looking to increase the value of their product families by augmenting their hardware offerings with software capabilities that only they are uniquely qualified to provide.

This is not a new idea. Several major equipment suppliers have offered so-called “Equipment Engineering Systems (EES)” products as companions for their equipment over the years, providing applications like Fault Detection and Classification (FDC), production monitoring, maintenance management, local repositories for diagnostics and field support, and other capabilities that leveraged deep domain knowledge of the equipment. However, these systems necessarily relied on private interfaces to the equipment for their data, such as an additional network connection, direct access to the file system, or other mechanisms. And from the fab’s perspective, these constituted yet another piece of infrastructure to maintain.

Now there’s EDA: a key enabler for value-added equipment applications

Since the SEMI EDA standards are inherently multi-client, a single EDA interface can support not only the factory information and control systems that depend on equipment data, it can also provide whatever information a supplier-specific application may need as long this data is represented in the equipment metadata model. Since that model is designed by the equipment suppliers as a fundamental component of the EDA interface, they can choose to put as much information in these model as they want, possibly well beyond that required by the fab customers’ purchase specifications. In fact, these models could be used to implement the diagnostic logging capability that suppliers usually build into their equipment for their own use, but without requiring custom software to read and interpret that information. See the figure below for an example of such a configuration.

EDA-Equipment-1The EDA standards also include a provision for “built-in DCPs” (DCP = Data Collection Plan) which can be shipped with the equipment and protected from accidental deletion at the factory site. These DCPs could be crafted by the equipment supplier to directly feed whatever value-added applications the supplier chose to develop, whether these resided on a computer local to the equipment in the fab, on portable computers used by field service engineers to diagnose problems, or on remote cloud-based systems allowed to connect via secure EDA-defined URLs. This flexibility opens up a wide range of application types, from those that embed equipment-specific algorithms to generic Machine Learning frameworks… the possibilities are endless.

What all these approaches have in common is a standard EDA client capability that can establish a session with the equipment, activate Data Collection Plans, and receive the ensuing Data Reports. The Cimetrix EDAConnect product provides all these features and more in a lightweight set of .NET libraries which can be deployed wherever they are needed to consume EDA data.

Conclusion

More and more semiconductor factories are requiring EDA interfaces with their new equipment purchases with highly prescribed equipment models and demanding performance criteria. From the equipment supplier’s perspective, these requirements have been viewed as a source of additional cost, with all the benefit accruing to the factory customers. But it doesn’t have to be that way…

Why not take advantage of this interface to offer additional value using a standards-based approach? This just might be an idea whose time has finally come. If you agree, give us a call – we can help you make it happen!

Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry, EDA/Interface A, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Standards