Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

SECS/GEM series: Message Logging

Posted by Tim Hutchison: Senior Software Engineer on Sep 19, 2018 10:51:00 AM

In 1977, the classic movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" was released.  Towards the end of the movie, there is a dramatic "conversation" between the space aliens and the humans. One of the scientists makes the statement, "I hope someone is taking all this down."

What they really wanted was message logging!

Just like software logging is important for troubleshooting an application, logging the detailed message traffic between a factory host and the manufacturing equipment is just as important for troubleshooting.

For example, a host sends a command, and the equipment behaves based upon the message, but something does not work as expected.  It would be very helpful to see the message that was sent and the reply from the equipment, in conjunction with any other logs from the equipment to determine where the problem is located.

The format used to display/represent the logged messages is also very important. The latest industry standard for SECS message formatting is SEMI E173, the Specification for XML SECS-II Message Notation (SMN).

Here is an example:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<SECSMessageScenario xmlns="urn:semi-org:xsd.SMN">
                <Comment time="2018-02-05T18:19:20.365Z">State Change NotConnected</Comment>
                <Comment time="2018-02-05T18:19:20.400Z">State Change NotSelected</Comment>
                <HSMSMessage time="2018-02-05T18:19:20.394Z" sType="Select.req" direction="H to E" txid="1">
                <HSMSMessage time="2018-02-05T18:19:20.417Z" sType="Select.rsp" direction="E to H" txid="1">
                                <Description>Communication Established</Description>

Here is an S5,F5 example:

<SECSMessage s="5" f="5" direction="H to E" replyBit="true" txid="7" time="2018-02-05T18:19:20.507Z">
        <UI4 />
<SECSMessage s="5" f="6" direction="E to H" replyBit="false" txid="7" time="2018-02-05T18:19:20.507Z">
                <ASC>Alarm 1 Text</ASC>

The SMN format is ideally suited for:

  • Capturing the HSMS header information in a clear way
  • Logging messages in an exact, binary format
  • Reading the logs using software
  • Creating a host or equipment emulator, since it is easy to read the logging from a software application and play it back.
  • Extracting data from the SMN logs

The logs can be captured by the Equipment, Host, or even a "network sniffer" like Cimetrix's CIMSniffer utility.

Cimetrix’s Logviewer utility supports SMN logs as well:

message logging blog image

With these standards and tools available, there's no reason to be like the scientist in Close Encounters, hoping that the messages were being logged.  Turn on logging!

Cimetrix's CIMConnect, HostConnect and SECSConnect all provide message logging in the SMN format.

Click here to read the other articles in our SECS/GEM Features and Benefits series. 

To download a white paper with an introduction to SECS/GEM, Click below:

SECS/GEM White Paper

Topics: SECS/GEM, Smart Manufacturing, SECS/GEM Series

SEMICON Taiwan 2018 wrap-up

Posted by Cimetrix on Sep 12, 2018 11:57:00 AM

Booth2SEMICON Taiwan was held September 5-7, 2018 at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center. During that same time (Friday September 7), the e-Manufacturing & Design Collaboration Symposium (eMDC) alsotook place in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Cimetrix exhibited in the Smart Manufacturing Pavilion and had a strong presence at both shows, exhibiting and speaking at SEMICON, and speaking and sponsoring a tea break at eMDC. 

Cimetrix SEMICON attendees included Dave Faulkner (VP Sales and Marketing), Michael Lee (Country Manager Taiwan), Yufeng Huang (Senior Software Engineer), Alan Weber (VP New Product Innovations), Samson Wang (Solutions Engineer) and Kimberly Daich (Marketing Manager); Hwal Song (Country Manager Korea) was also able to attend for one day. We were joined by several partners and distributors as well. The Cimetrix booth was busy throughout the show, and provided a comfortable and convenient setting for the many scheduled and walk-in meetings that took place.

techXspot_taiwan2018_DaveIn addition to the exhibitions, SEMICON Taiwan also sponsored many forums for expert speakers throughout the show. Dave Faulkner spoke on Friday morning on the topic of "Making Smart Manufacturing Work with EDA: The Stakeholder-driven requirements Development Process". On that same day, Alan Weber traveled to Hsinchu for eMDC and spoke on a similar topic, "Smart Manufacturing Stakeholders and Their Requirements." Smart Manufacturing is a prevailing topic across the industry and was featured at SEMICON Taiwan, as they continue the Smart Manufacturing Journey that began with SEMICON West. 

Our office in Taiwan has expanded recently with the addition of a new Solutions Engineer, and we are excited as new opportunities open up throughout the region. 

IMG_3881If you would like to learn more about Smart Manufacturing, our work in Taiwan or Cimetrix, please feel free to ask an expert any time. 

Ask an Expert


Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Events, Global Services, SEMICON, Smart Manufacturing

Advanced EDA Factory Applications and Benefits Episode 5: Fleet Matching and Management

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Sep 5, 2018 10:30:00 AM

In the fourth article of this series, Fault Detection and Classification, we highlighted the application that has been the principal driver for the adoption of EDA (Equipment Data Acquisition) standards across the industry thus far, namely Fault Detection and Classification (FDC). In this posting, we’ll discuss another important application that effectively leverages the capabilities of the EDA standard: Fleet Matching and Management. 

Problem Statement

The problem that fleet matching (which also covers chamber and tool matching) addresses is maintaining large sets of similar equipment types at the same operating point in order to maximize lot scheduling flexibility by the real-time scheduling and dispatching systems that run modern wafer fabs. This avoids the situation where specific equipment instances are dedicated to (and therefore reserved for) critical layers of certain products, processes or recipes, which can reduce the effective capacity of the affected process area. This situation can arise because tools naturally “drift” apart over time, especially when manual adjustments are made to the equipment, or other factors (maintenance actions, consumable material changes, key sub-system replacements, etc.) affect the equipment’s operating envelope. eda5.1

Of course, part of the problem is choosing which equipment should be the one matched to—the so-called “golden tool.” And depending on the breadth of the fab’s product/process mix, there may be multiple targets to choose from, further complicating the task. 

Solution Components

The solutions for many of today’s complex manufacturing problems require lots of high-quality equipment data, and fleet matching is no exception. Like FDC, choosing the golden tool(s) also requires some information about which recent lots exhibited the highest yields, which must be correlated with the equipment used throughout the process. Unlike FDC, however, it is NOT necessary to build hundreds (if not thousands) of multivariate fault models specific to the various context combinations, because the underlying principle of chamber/tool/fleet matching is that “if all the fundamental operating mechanisms of a set of equipment are working consistently, then the behavior of the equipment in aggregate should likewise be consistent.” This means that the matching process can be largely recipe independent, which is a major simplification over other statistically based applications.

This is not as simple as it may first appear, because a complex equipment may have scores of these mechanisms (pressure/flow control, multi-zone temperature control, motion control, power/phase generation, etc.) for which thousands of parameters must be collected to characterize and monitor equipment behavior accurately. Static and dynamic equipment configuration information also comes into play, since similar (but not identical) tools may be interchangeable for certain processes. 

This is where the EDA standards enter the picture.

EDA Standards Leverage

Although not explicitly required by the SEMI EDA standards, the intent and expectation of its designers was to support a far richer (read “more detailed”) equipment metadata model than is practical in most SECS/GEM implementations. With respect to fleet matching and management, this would include not just the high-level status variables for key equipment mechanisms (listed above), but also the setpoints, internal control parameters, and detailed status of their underlying components. 

The metadata model must also include the complete set of equipment constants that govern tool operation, since these “constants” are sometimes changed “on the fly” by an operator within some allowable range. While this may be an acceptable production practice, it nevertheless affects the tool’s operating window, and must be accounted for in the matching algorithms.EDA5.2-667640-edited 

Moreover, the communications interface should support sampling and data collection of these detailed parameters at a frequency sufficient to observe the complete real-time operation of these mechanisms so the process and equipment engineers can more deeply understand how the equipment actually works. Support for this level of equipment visibility was also a stated requirement for the EDA standards.

Once this data is collected, a variety of analysis tools can look for similarities and anomalies in the equipment parameters to identify the factors that matter most in achieving consistent process performance. At this writing, a number of companies are looking at this domain as an ideal application for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology. Stay tuned for exciting developments in this area. 

KPIs Affected

The KPI (Key Performance Indicators) most impacted by the fleet matching and management application is overall factory cycle time, since the scheduling systems can make optimal use of all available equipment to move material through the fab.Accelerate gains, reduce costs

Equipment uptime is also improved, because the continuous equipment mechanism “fingerprinting” process which is fundamental to fleet matching also catches potential problems before they cause the entire tool to fail. Finally, when more equipment instances are available for running experimental lots (rather than having dedicated tools for this), the yield ramp for new processes can be shortened as well.

If keeping a large set of supposedly identical equipment operating consistently is a challenge you currently face, give us a call. We can help you understand the approaches for building a standards-based Smart Manufacturing data collection infrastructure to support the machine learning algorithms that are increasingly prevalent in this latest generation of manufacturing applications… including fleet matching and management. Smart Factory

To Learn more about the EDA/Interface A Standard for automation requirements, download the EDA/Interface A white paper today.



Topics: EDA/Interface A, Smart Manufacturing, EDA in Smart Manufacturing Series

SEMICON Taiwan 2018 is Almost Here!

Posted by Michael Lee; Country Manager Taiwan on Aug 29, 2018 10:48:00 AM

SEMICON Taiwan 2018 is just around the corner. Read the preview now in Chinese or below in English.

semicon taiwan banner

台灣半導體展在台灣微電子生產是一個非常重要的活動。矽美科即將在下週參加此半導體展。展期將由9/5 星期三至9/7星期五,在台北南港展覽館K2760 攤位。台灣半導體提供了一個很好的機會給公司及個人交流的平台,我們非常高興看到我們的客戶及新朋友分享我們的成長。

矽美科我們的 銷售和市場部副總裁 Dave Faulkner, 將會在9月7號禮拜五SEMICON TechXPOT演講

若是你有經過我們的攤位K2760, 歡迎你跟我們的專家交流有關連線和相關的需求,我們會在現場做產品演練及介紹和告訴你們我們公司的簡介,你也可以預先來郵件預約,謝謝你。


semicon taiwan banner

SEMICON Taiwan is the premier event in Taiwan for microelectronics manufacturing and Cimetrix will be there next week! The show runs from Wednesday, September 5 through Friday, September 7, 2018 at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center. SEMICON Taiwan is always a great opportunity to connect with the companies and people in our industry and we are excited to see our clients, meet new people, and share the latest news of Cimetrix products and services with our Taiwan colleagues.

As the semiconductor and microelectronics manufacturing industries grow, SEMICON Taiwan continues to grow as well, both in the number of people who attend and in the number of exhibitors.   This year, Cimetrix will be exhibiting as part of the Smart Manufacturing & Automation Pavilion at Booth K2760. The Smart Manufacturing Pavilion is a great place to start to understand the entire manufacturing process including Front End, Back End and PCB Assembly. Cimetrix-Dave-Faulkner-Square

Cimetrix will also have an expert talk led by Dave Faulkner, Vice President Sales and Marketing, at the SEMICON TechXPOT on Friday, September 7, and we invite you to join us there.


On the same day, at the eMDC 2018 event in Hsinchu, our EDA expert, Alan Weber, will deliver a presentation titled Smart Manufacturing Stakeholders and Their Requirements.

Stop by our booth any time to talk to our experts about your specific connectivity and control needs. We will have onsite product demonstrations as well as information about our company available. You can also schedule in advance a time to meet with us at the show by filling out a quick form with your meeting request. 

Meet with Us

Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Events, SEMICON, Smart Manufacturing

2018 Shareholder Meeting Recap

Posted by Jodi M. Juretich: Chief Financial Officer on Aug 24, 2018 11:30:00 AM
SHM 2018-6

It was nice to see so many familiar faces this past Friday, August 17, 2018 at our Annual Shareholders Meeting. The meeting was held at our headquarters in Salt Lake City, UT with over fifty-five percent of Cimetrix shareholders represented at the meeting. There was one proposal submitted by management to re-elect all five Directors, which was approved by shareholders with over 99% of the votes cast in favor of the proposal. We are grateful to have an incredibly talented and experienced Board of Directors who take their responsibility to represent the interests of shareholders very seriously. We are thankful our shareholders recognize and appreciate the value of our independent directors. 

SHM 2018-2

After the formal shareholder meeting was adjourned, Dave Faulkner, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and Ranjan Chatterjee, Vice President and General Manager, Smart Factory Business Unit, gave presentations on the exciting growth initiatives underway at Cimetrix. Following their presentation, Bob Reback, President and CEO, provided his perspective on the state-of-the-company and outlook going forward. During these presentations and ensuing discussion, management shared that Cimetrix is seeing the results of its growth initiatives, as revenues for the first six months of 2018 were up over 24% year-over-year. In addition, during a discussion on the benefits of going private (which Cimetrix did at the end of 2014), management reported the benefits of going private exceeded its expectations and contributed to growing revenues at a CAGR over 18%, compared to the 6% CAGR as a public company from 2002 through 2013. Lastly, management reported that its balance sheet continues to get stronger, even as the company is able to make significant investments in its growth initiatives. The company continues to operate profitability on a quarterly basis, the company has no debt, and the company now has over $3M of cash.

We continue to be thankful for the support and enthusiasm demonstrated by our shareholders, the hard work of all our employees and the wisdom and guidance of our Board of Directors. Thank you for all your contributions to Cimetrix. 

Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Company Culture, Announcements, Investor News

한국에서의 EDA 연착륙을 위한 3 차 세미나 개최; Hosting the third seminar for soft landing of EDA in Korea

Posted by Hwal Song on Aug 15, 2018 11:04:00 AM

Hwal Song of Cimetrix Korea talks about EDA/Interface A and Korean Equipment Makers. Read now in Korean or below in English.


Cimetrix Korea와 국내 파트너사인 링크제니시스는 EDA에 대한 세미나를 7 월 19 일에 개최했습니다. 삼성, SK 하이닉스를 포함한 글로벌 반도체 제조사들이 공정 장비의 추가 통신 프로토콜로 EDA를 채택함에 따라 EDA가 더욱 각광을 받게 되면서 개최한 세번째 세미나였습니다. 지금까지 200 명이 넘는 엔지니어가 이들 세미나에 참석하였으면, 이에 따라 한국에서의 EDA 연착륙이 진행 중입니다. 이들 세미나의 목적은 EDA의 이해부족로 오는 시행착오를 줄이고 첫번째 EDA구현을 가장 빠른 시간에 구현하기 위함입니다.

반도체 제조사의 EDA 채택은 차세대 분석 기능을 구현하고 딥러닝 및 머신 러닝 등과 같은 빅 데이터 및 AI의 새로운 기술을 수용하기 위한 주요 노력의 일환입니다. 대부분의 공정장비들이Freeze II 및 E164가 포함된 EDA 기능의 장착이 요구되거나 요구될 예정이여서,  Cimetrix Korea는EDA의 일반적인 개념뿐만 아니라 심도 있는 구현 방법론에 대한 이해를 위한 도움이 각 장비 제조사의 소프트웨어 엔지니어들에게 필요함을 인지하였습니다. 이러한 요구를 충족시키기 위해 다음과 같이 내용으로 세미나가 준비되었습니다.

  • EDA관련 업계 동향 및 채택 현황 -  E164의 중요성 포함
  • 반도체 제조사가 EDA 사양을 어떤 과정을 거쳐 준비하는가?
  • 장비제조사의 소프트웨어팀 관점에서 EDA 구현의 모범 사례와 방법론
  • 여러 장비제조사의 소프트웨어팀을 코칭한 컨설팅 및 지원 팀의 관점에서 EDA 구현 모범 사례와 방법론
  • 구현중이거나 구현된 EDA 적합성 테스트의 모범 사례

활발한 토론과 Q&A를 통해서 한국의 장비 제조사들의 EDA에 대한 높은 관심을 엿볼 수있는 행사였습니다.

궁금한 점이 있으시면 언제든 연락주시기 바랍니다.

Hwal Song

Cimetrix Korea and our local partner, Linkgenesis, held a seminar about SEMI EDA on July 19, the third one since 2016. EDA continues to gain momentum as global chip makers like Samsung and SK hynix have adopted EDA as an additional communication protocol for process tools. So far, over 200 engineers have attended these seminars, promoting the soft landing of EDA in Korea. Their goals include minimizing trial and error due to the lack of understanding on EDA, and speeding up the first deployment of EDA.


Adoption of EDA by chip makers is one of the major efforts for factories to implement their next-generation analytic capabilities and also embrace new technologies from big data and AI such as deep learning and machine learning. As most process tools are or will be required to ship with EDA capability, with Freeze II and E164, Cimetrix Korea recognized that Korean software engineers employed at equipment makers were looking for help in understanding in-depth deployment methodologies as well as understanding the general concept of EDA. In order to accommodate these needs, our seminars have been put together with following agenda:

  • General industry trends of EDA and its adoption – the importance of E164
  • Koreablog-1How an EDA specification is put together by a chip maker
  • Best practices & methodologies for implementation of EDA – from the perspective of a software team at a tool maker
  • Best practices & methodologies for implementation of EDA – from the perspective of a consulting and support team who have coached many software teams in tool makers
  • Testing best practices during and after EDA implementation

Active discussions and Q&A showed the high level of interest in EDA among Korean equipment makers. 

Please feel free to contact us whenever you have any questions.

Hwal Song

Topics: EDA/Interface A, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Smart Manufacturing

Meet the Quality Engineering Team: Shayla Holbrook

Posted by Cimetrix on Aug 9, 2018 11:09:00 AM

CIM_2017-6529-117787-editedMeet Shayla Holbrook, one of our QE Software Engineers. Read on to learn a little bit more about Shayla.

How long have you worked at Cimetrix?

I have been working at Cimetrix since the end of July 2017—so just over a year!

Where did you go to school and what is your degree?

I earned my BS in Bioinformatics from BYU. I had been working toward a degree in Biology when I felt a strong draw toward computer science. I was lucky enough to discover a degree that would mesh the two paths instead of forcing a restart to my university education.

What brought you to Cimetrix originally?

Fresh out of school, I was looking for a company that would be a good match for me when I discovered a posting for Cimetrix. I did a bit of digging to try to understand more than the company’s outward focus. I wanted to understand the culture and the way the employees felt about working here. What I discovered was a culture of unity, understanding, and a drive toward a common goal. So it was ultimately this culture that brought me to Cimetrix.

What do you like most about your job?

Honestly, what I like most about my job is the people. I love working with my team to build quality into our products. I also enjoy making sure everything is running smoothly and, in the case that it isn’t, helping to discover how we can improve our products and processes.

What do you think it means to provide great Quality Engineering?

Quality Engineering is not just about the testing—as many people believe. It is about building the quality into our products as well as our process. This includes developing stronger test suites, reducing holdups in the test environment, modifying process documents to provide better clarity and unity, and raising questions that lead to create a smoother engineering process. Therefore, providing great quality engineering encompasses everything that would assist engineering to run smoothly and provide our best product.

What’s the biggest accomplishment you’ve had at Cimetrix?

My biggest accomplishment was not something I did alone and is something still in progress. As a QE team, we gathered together and discussed the future of the team. Listening to everyone’s viewpoints, I realized, and pointed out, that we were not only divided in our current direction but also lacked unity in where we believed our team should be heading and improving. I count pointing that information out as my biggest accomplishment because, since then, we have taken actions to not only unify in our course but to also actively seek ways to improve our team and our work. 

How do you deal with challenges that come up at work?

One thing I love about Cimetrix is that I know I can talk to anyone about anything at work. So when challenges arise, I seek out the answers to the questions that will help me to deal with those challenges and solve whatever problem I may be having.

What's something you’ve learned while working at Cimetrix?

Always ask questions. It is always better to sound dumb than to assume you understand something and make a mistake. That mistake, no matter the size, could reduce the quality of the work being performed and will take more time to fix than it would have to ask the initial question.

What’s your favorite vacation spot?

I am not quite sure I have a specific location. However, all of my favorite vacations have allowed me to spend significant time outside enjoying the fresh air and the beauties nature has to offer. One of my favorites being the time I got to spend a day in Germany’s Black Forest.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love spending time with my family above all else. After that, I enjoy reading, hosting campfires in the canyon, and working with my hands.  Some of my creative projects have included carving Hobbes (the tiger) out of basswood, sketching dragons, and quilting a large sunset elephant throw quilt.

Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Company Culture

SECS/GEM series: Protocol Layer

Posted by Bill Grey: Distinguished Software Engineer on Aug 2, 2018 10:43:00 AM

Purpose of the Protocol Layer

The protocol layer packages data and reliably transfers it between the factory host and the equipment GEM interface.


Protocol Layer Definition

The protocol layer implements the transport technology and data packing algorithms used to send messages across a wire between a factory host and an equipment GEM interface.  

The SEMI E5 standard, SEMI Equipment Communications Standard 2 Message Content (SECS-II), defines  SECS messages that are used as the data and defines how they are packed into binary buffers for transport.

The SEMI E37 and E37.1 standards, High-Speed SECS Message Services (HSMS), define a protocol for exchanging SECS messages over a TCP/IP connection. This is the most used transport technology in SECS/GEM.

secsgem protocol layer image

HSMS Protocol Stack

The SEMI E4 standard, SEMI Equipment Communications Standard 1 Message transfer (SECS-I), defines a mechanism for exchanging SECS messages over RS-232. This is normally used for older equipment or for some hardware inside an equipment such as an EFEM controller.

The rest of the document will focus on SECS messages over HSMS.

Protocol Layer Benefits

The protocol layer in GEM maintains the connection and detects a loss of connection so either party may take appropriate action such as activating Spooling

The protocol layer defines handshaking mechanisms to ensure delivery of messages if desired. 

The protocol layer connection is point-to-point between the factory host and equipment. It is a dedicated connection with no broadcast capabilities. This makes it easier to predict network loading.

Data Density

SECS/GEM transmits data with little overhead and high density. This means less network bandwidth usage for a given data set.  

For illustrative purposes, let us look at a typical example of an event report and compare SECS/GEM messaging to a somewhat equivalent XML and JSON message.

Take a typical GEM interface that uses unsigned 4-byte integers for IDs and an event report containing 8-byte floating point numbers and 4-byte integers. An example of this message is shown in the table below in a SECS/GEM format per E5 and in equivalent JSON and XML formats.

secsgem format per E5 JSON XML


The binary SECS/GEM message will take 58 bytes over the wire, the JSON around 206 bytes and XML 175.  The JSON and XML numbers can change a bit based on key/element names and the above is just one of many possible representations.

secsgem-protocol graph

A chart showing the data density comparison for the example message is shown below.  The Actual Data size is 2 4-byte integers + 2 8-byte floating point numbers + 1 4-byte event id + 1 4-byte report id = 32 bytes of actual data.  The overhead is calculated by subtracting the actual data size from the total number of bytes for the message.


For the example message the data density for SECS the data density percentages are shown in the graph below.  Data density percentage is calculated by the (actual data) / overhead *100.


Now if we change the example message to have 100 8-byte floating point numbers in it, the Data Density % graph changes to the chart below. Notice the JSON and XML are relatively the same, but the SECS/GEM data density increases to 78%.


SECS/GEM encoding has very little overhead.  The overhead for a message is 10 bytes for a header describing the message, plus 1 to 4 bytes for the size of the message body.  For any 4-byte integer or floating-point number in a SECS message, 6 bytes will be sent across the wire, 4 bytes for the integer value + 1 for the type + 1 for the length in bytes of the data.  Likewise, for any 8-byte integer or floating-point number, 10 bytes will be sent. For a string value, the length will be the number of characters plus 2 to 4 bytes. Any time a List (L in the readable example above) appears in a SECS message, 2 to 4 bytes will be added to the message.  

Arrays of numbers are brutally efficient in SECS/GEM. The overhead for an array is 1 byte for the type plus 1 to 4 bytes for the length of the array, plus the data in its native size. For example: an array of 10 4-byte integers would take 42 bytes, that is a data density of 95%! 

In the JSON example, a 4-byte integer requires 16 bytes + the number of characters needed to represent the integer, so 17 to 28 bytes. Floating point numbers are the same overhead, but probably requiring more characters to represent the value.

In XML, the overhead is based on the sizes of the XML element names.  Using the element names in the example above, for any 4 -byte integer the number of bytes across the wire will be 9 + number of characters needed to represent the integer, so 10 to 21 bytes. Floating point numbers are at the mercy of the string formatting used to represent the values. 

In summary, looking at the per-item byte size across the wire, SECS/GEM is very dense.  Take the 4-byte integer example where SECS/GEM is 6 bytes across the wire, the JSON example is 17 to 28 and the XML example is 10 to 21 bytes and you see as you scale the number of parameters the overhead really matters.  300mm Semiconductor equipment are expected to transfer 1000 parameters per second per process module to the host.  For a 2-module equipment, this results in the following number of bytes just for the data: 12K bytes/ over SECS/GEM, 34K-56K for JSON, and 20K-42K for the XML example. These numbers do not account for size of the rest of the message, just the actual parts related to parameter values. If that data is transferred in lots of messages with few values per message, then the network load is even worse. Fewer, larger messages are always better in all cases.

XML and JSON may also add to the overhead depending on the transmission protocol used.  For example, XML is often transmitted over HTTP using SOAP, this adds two additional layers of overhead and more bytes going across the wire for each message.The numbers of bytes shown for SECS/GEM are what is transmitted across the wire on top of TCP/IP. 

No Data Translation

Numeric data is transmitted with no translation in SECS/GEM.  Numbers are transmitted in their native format.  For example: an 8-byte floating point number is transmitted in its 8-byte representation without any conversion, truncation, or rounding. 

Any protocol such as JSON or XML must convert those 8-byte floating point numbers into a text representation.  This takes computing resources for the encoding and decoding and significantly more bytes across the wire. IEEE754 requires 17 decimal digits to accurately represent an 8-byte floating point number as a string. Adding in characters for sign, decimal point, exponent and exponent sign leads to 21 characters. That is over twice what SECS/GEM sends across the wire.

Circuit Assurance

HSMS defines a circuit assurance mechanism called Link Test.  The protocol layer has a timer that is started if there are no active message exchanges. Every time the timer expires, a protocol message is exchanged to ensure the connection is still open.  


HSMS defines no security.  There is no validation of the connecting party, no credentials or certificate is required to connect. The data is not encrypted by any normal encryption algorithms; however, data is obfuscated through the data packaging process and is not generally human readable. 

Security is not normally seen as an issue since factory networks are isolated from the outside world.


The SECS/GEM Protocol Layer using HSMS provides a very efficient means of exchanging accurate data between the factory host and equipment. 

Click here to read the other articles in our SECS/GEM Features and Benefits series. 

To download a white paper with an introduction to SECS/GEM, Click below:

SECS/GEM White Paper

Topics: SECS/GEM, Smart Manufacturing, SECS/GEM Series

Meet the Quality Engineering Team: David Harrison

Posted by Cimetrix on Jul 25, 2018 11:23:00 AM

David_Harrison-888569-editedMeet David Harrison, Quality Engineering Team Lead. Read on to learn a little bit more about David.

How long have you worked at Cimetrix?

I have been with Cimetrix for 1 year and 6 months.

Where did you go to school and what is your degree?

I graduated from the University of Utah School of Computing with a Bachelor Degree in Computer Science in December of 2016.

What brought you to Cimetrix originally?

I was looking for positions to start after graduation and found Cimetrix through The Company values and standards really resonated with me. I was excited to join an industry with so much growth and movement.

What do you like most about your job?

I look forward to coming to work every day on a great team of individuals and contributing to the development of products that affect millions of lives around the world.

What do you think it means to provide great Quality Engineering?

To build the quality into the product itself by working with the entire development team, from CT&S to Marketing, to deliver stable, reliable products to our customers, and build the quality of our team members as well through mentorship and collaboration.

What’s the biggest accomplishment you’ve had at Cimetrix?

Taking on roles of QE Team Lead and SCRUM Master when I hadn’t even been with the company for one year was a unique challenge and overcoming that challenge and building a great QE culture has been a big accomplishment. 

How do you deal with challenges that come up at work?

The biggest resource I have when I am confronted with a difficult challenge is my peers and colleagues.  I am fortunate to work with many people who have vast knowledge and experience.  Their willingness to take on challenges as a team makes challenges easy to deal with. 

What's something you’ve learned while working at Cimetrix?

Companies that live by their values and lead by example by practicing what they preach will draw success to them.

What’s your favorite vacation spot?

Anywhere there is a tropical beach. But if we are being specific, Kauai, HI.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like home improvement, reading, hiking, spending time with family and friends, board games, painting, rock climbing, gardening, playing music, cooking, and video games.

Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Company Culture

SEMICON West 2018 Standards Committee Meeting Updates

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Jul 18, 2018 12:30:00 PM


During the SEMICON West exhibition in San Francisco this past week (July 9-10), the North American Information & Control Committee and its Task Forces met to continue SEMI standards development. Here is a brief summary of the proceedings.

The GEM 300 task force, in addition to reapproving E90, also approved minor title changes to the E39, E39.1, E40 and E40.1 standards. Each SEMI standard must be revised or reapproved to avoid becoming inactive. A few years ago, SEMI changed regulations that mandate that each standard declare its classification, such as a “guide” or “specification”. Since then the task force has been slowly correcting the titles. The E37.1 standard is in the middle of such classification, but has been riddled with reapproval complications due to minor concerns and some needed corrections in the standard. The ballot to make these corrections, 6349, failed for the second time at SEMICON West. The ballot will be slightly reworked and resubmitted for another round of voting. Another ballot, 6348 proposed to clean up the GEM E30 standard, to improve its readability and to bring the standard in conformance with current SEMI regulations and its current style guide. The forefront of the discussions was surrounding the confusing use of acronyms DVNAME, DVVAL, SVV and other such acronyms where the meaning and use of the acronyms was confusing to new readers. The 6348 ballot also failed, but hopefully the task force is progressing towards reaching an agreement. One major challenge is that ballot 6348 is a major revision ballot, where the entire specification is opened up for review and scrutiny, as opposed to line item ballots where only specific sections of a standard are modified.

Finally, and most exciting is ballot 6114B; a revision to the SECS-II E5 standard. The ballot proposed a set of new messages for transferring any large items between a host and equipment. Typically, one item in a message is limited to about 16.7 MB. The new messages are specifically targeting the transfer of equipment recipes, but the messages are written generic enough so that anything else can be transferred, too. The new messages support two styles of item transfer. Either the item can be transmitted in a single message, or broken into parts for transfer with the expectation to be concatenated by the recipient. Or the item can be transmitted in multiple messages, broken into parts with each part sent in a separate message and the same expectation to be concatenated by the recipient. An item is identified by its “type”, “id” and “version”. The messages are intended to resolve current issues with recipes where some equipment suppliers are using recipes that surpass 16.7 MB. And the messages open the door to be used by other SEMI standards and to be customized for specific applications. After passing this ballot, the task force intends to make the messages part of the GEM standard. Even though the ballot 6348 failed, the task force seems to have finally reached consensus on the message formats and continues to work out minor details.

The DDA Task Force continues to work on the next version of the Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA) standards. In the latest cycle of voting, changes were proposed to E138 (ballot 6336), E134 (ballot 6335) and E132 (ballot 6337). Although one part of E134 passed, most of E134 failed and the other ballots failed. All of the failed ballots will be reworked and resubmitted for voting. Additionally, during the task force meeting additional proposed changes were reviewed and discussed. The task force continues to make plans to move from HTTP 1.1 and SOAP/XML to HTTP 2.0 and Protocol Buffers. Specifically, the plan is to recommend using gRPC. Testing done to date indicated an 18 times performance improvement and significant bandwidth reduction. The task force also discussed changes to simplify the equipment model metadata handling. Finally, Cimetrix proposed the implementation of a new method of data sampling designed for higher data collection frequencies. The current trace data collection messages, while very effective for speeds up to maybe 80 Hz, become inefficient when trying to collect data at even faster rates. The concept is called a “cached data sample” where the equipment collects the data at a specified frequency and then reports the data in an array syntax. When using HTTP 2.0 and Protocol Buffers, this will be an especially efficient format expected to allow much higher frequencies.

The client specifies the data collection frequency as well as the reporting frequency. For example, a client might specify a frequency of 10 kHz and a reporting frequency of 1 s, where 10,000 data samples would be reported each second. Such proposal if accepted, combined with the faster Protocol Buffer, will open the door for a number of new data collection applications.

A lot of people are wondering when EDA freeze III will be done. Probably not until late next year. How soon this happens mostly depends on how efficiently task force members provide feedback on the ballot drafts.

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Topics: SEMI Standards, Semiconductor Industry, EDA/Interface A, Events, SEMICON