Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering

Brian Rubow is the Director of Solutions Engineering for Cimetrix. He is well-known within the industry due to his involvement with the SEMI standards committees. He currently serves as the co-chairs for the North America Information and Control Committee, the North America GEM300 Task Force, and the North America DDA Task Force. Rubow has both a bachelor’s and a master’s in Engineering from Brigham Young University.
Find me on:

Recent Posts

A New Benefit for our CIMConnect Customers: Training Videos Available Now

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Nov 24, 2021 11:45:00 AM

Background

Cimetrix CIMConnectTM customers enjoy many benefits to maintaining an active support contract, and today we are announcing yet another one: access to a set of product-specific training videos.

A few years ago, the Solutions Engineering team at the Cimetrix Connectivity Group posted product training material including the full set of CIMConnect training PowerPoint presentations to facilitate self-training for those unable to attend a formal session. We update this repository periodically as the training material is revised and improved. The material is available online through the Customer Portal. After logging in, you can find the presentations here:

CIMConnect-training-videos-pic1

Training Videos

To complement the presentation material shown above, the Solutions Engineering team is now creating video training material. As of mid-June, 2021, the first set of training videos for CIMConnect is also available via the customer portal (see below).

CIMConnect-training-videos-pic2

By clicking on the “CIMConnect Video Library”, you can see full set of available training videos and access them via this table:

CIMConnect-training-videos-pic3

The material is organized by topic, such as Collection Events or Status Variables. Each topic is subdivided into one or more instruction parts. When there is a lab, the implementation of the lab is covered twice. First, the implementation of the lab is reviewed and demonstrated in CIMConnect’s “Getting Started” sample application. Second, the lab is implemented step by step from scratch in a new application.

A few of the training PowerPoint presentations are not yet complete but should be available soon. This includes topics like Remote Commands, Equipment Constants, Factory Setup, and Operator Interface. Solutions Engineering plans to expand the training to other products as well.

Also, note that other videos are also available that go beyond the scope of the training material. These are found on the same “CIMConnect Video Library” page at the bottom.

Customers are welcome to purchase CIMConnect training and/or consulting services at any time. The training material described above is not a substitute for working directly with a product and standards expert, where a customer can discuss specific equipment hardware, software architecture, and unique customer requirements. Nevertheless, this material should help our customers when they need a refresher course and especially when new employees are assigned to work with CIMConnect after its initial development.

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Cimetrix Products

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

Summer 2020 North America DDA Task Force Report

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Aug 12, 2020 10:45:00 AM

Background

The SEMI North America Diagnostic Data Acquisition (DDA) task force is part of the North America Information and Control Committee (I&CC or NA I&CC). This year the meeting that is normally held in conjunction with SEMICON West was held on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, and continued its activities in developing important SEMI standards. As co-leader of the NA DDA task force, I offer this blog as a summary of the current task force activities.

Freeze 3 Status

The primary responsibility of the DDA task force is the suite of Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA) standards, sometimes referred to as “Interface A.” Currently there are two version sets of EDA standards known as “Freeze 1” and “Freeze 2” which are both based on SOAP/XML over HTTP. The current activities are focused on defining the next EDA set (already designated “Freeze 3”) which is based on a binary protocol gRPC over HTTP. This technology, along with a number of other changes, promises to dramatically increase data collection throughput capacity.

Here is what has been completed so far:

Standard (Ballot)

Ballot Status

Lead

E132 (6337) – Client Authorization and Authentication

Published - 04/29/2019

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)

E138 (6336) – Specification for XML Semiconductor Common Components

Published - 03/15/2019

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)

E134 (6335) – Data Collection Management

Published – 03/29/2019

Inhyeok Paek (Link Genesis)

E120 (6434) – Common Equipment Model (CEM)

Published – 05/30/2019

Inna Skvortsova (SEMI)

E145 (6436) – Classification for Measurement Unit Symbols in XML

Published – 05/31/2019

Inna Skvortsova (SEMI)

E178 (6300) – Guide for EDA Freeze Version

Published – 01/10/2020

Mitch Sakamoto (ZAMA)

E179 (6344A) – Specification for Protocol Buffers Common Components

Published – 03/27/2020

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

 

Current Ballot Activity

The bulk of the “Freeze 3” work is still under active development. Here is a summary of the ballot activity as of the start of the meeting on Tuesday.

Standard (Ballot)

Ballot Status

Lead

E125 (6527B) – Equipment Self Description (EqSD)

Adjudication

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)
Hyungsu Kim (Doople)

E132 (6571B) – Client Authorization and Authentication

Adjudication

Mitch Sakamoto (ZAMA)
Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

E134 (6553B) – Data Collection Management

Adjudication

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)

E164 – EDA Common Metadata

Development

Alan Weber (Cimetrix)
Note – separate 5yr reapproval ballot started

E125.2 (6345) – gRPC Binding for Equipment Self Description (EqSD)

Development

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

E132.2 (6346C) – gRPC Binding for Client Authorization and Authentication

Adjudication

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

E134.2 (6347) – gRPC Binding for Data Collection Management

Development

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

 

All of the ballots failed and will be reworked for Cycle 7 voting later this year. However, this was not unexpected, and a great of useful feedback was gathered in the process.

Getting Involved

For those interested in participating, it is easy to join SEMI standards activities. Anyone can register at www.semi.org/standardsmembership.

All SEMI task force ballot activities are logged at: http://downloads.semi.org/web/wstdsbal.nsf/TFOFandSNARFsbyCommittee?OpenView&Start=1&Count=1000&ExpandView

After joining the standards activities, anyone can get involved. The task forces post everything on the connected @ SEMI website https://connect.semi.org/home. The North America DDA task force community is called “Diagnostic Data Acquisition Task Force - North America”.

To find out more about the semi standards, or to speak with a standards expert, click the button below:

Ask an Expert

Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry

Summer 2020 North America ABFI Task Force Report

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Aug 5, 2020 11:00:00 AM

Background

The SEMI North America Advanced Backend Factory Integration (ABFI) task force is part of the North America Information and Control Committee (I&CC or NA I&CC). Normally this task force meets every July in San Francisco as part of SEMICON West. However, this year the technical committee meetings are spread out over several weeks and do not coincide directly with the exhibition. Additionally, the I&CC did not meet at all because SEMI regulations do not currently allow TC Chapter (Committee) voting in virtual meetings. That will hopefully change later this year, but for now delays SEMI standards development.

Regardless of these challenges, the ABFI task force did meet on Monday July 13, 2020 and continues to develop SEMI standards. I am co-leader of the NA ABFI task force along with Dave Huntley of PDF Solutions. This blog is a summary of the current task force activities.

Wafer Maps

Ballot 6648 to update to the SEMI E142 (Specification for Substrate Mapping) specification has passed initial voting and is recommended to be accepted and published. This ballot significantly enhances the amount of traceability data that may be embedded within wafer maps.

Additional Wafer Map Activity

Because wafer maps will potentially be much larger with additional traceability data, they could be too large for the messages currently defined in the E142.2 standard. A new activity has been started to modify wafer map usage further and to allow Stream 21 messages to be used for wafer map transfer. The stream 21 message in the SECS-II standard can be used to transfer very large items through a GEM interface.

SEMI Standard Usage Matrix for Backend

The ABFI task force is also defining a matrix that specifies which standards beyond GEM (E30), SECS-II (E5), HSMS (E37) and Substrate Mapping (E142) should be used for backend automation, and under what conditions they should be used. This includes consideration of the full suite of GEM 300 standards and other standards that all GEM interfaces should consider, such as SEDD (E172) and SMN (E173).

Getting Involved

For those interested in participating, it is easy to join SEMI standards activities. Anyone can register at www.semi.org/standardsmembership.

All SEMI task force ballot activities are logged at http://downloads.semi.org/web/wstdsbal.nsf/TFOFandSNARFsbyCommittee?OpenView&Start=1&Count=1000&ExpandView

After joining the standards activities, anyone can get involved. The task forces post everything on the connected @ SEMI website https://connect.semi.org/home. The North America ABFI task force does not have a community.

To learn more about the standards, or to speak with a standards expert, click on the button below:

Ask an Expert

Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry, Standards

Summer 2020 North America GEM 300 Task Force Report

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Jul 22, 2020 10:45:00 AM

Background

The SEMI North America GEM 300 task force is part of the North America Information and Control Committee (I&CC or NA I&CC). Normally this task force meets in San Francisco as part of SEMICON West. However, this year the technical committee meetings are spread over several weeks and don’t coincide directly with SEMICON West. Additionally, the I&CC did not meet at all because SEMI regulations do not currently allow TC Chapter (Committee) voting in virtual meetings. That will hopefully change later this year, but for now inhibits the pace of SEMI standards development.

However, the GEM 300 task force did meet on Monday July 13, 2020, and continues to develop SEMI standards. I am co-leader of the NA GEM 300 task force, along with Chris Maloney from Intel. This blog is a summary of the current task force activities.

Pre-Meeting Summary

The table below contains a summary of the worldwide activities related to the GEM 300 task force as of the start of this summer’s meeting. There are corresponding task forces in the Japan and South Korea regions which are also active.

Region

Ballot

Standard(s)

Status

Topic

South Korea

5832

New

Cycle 5, 2020

Generic Counter

North America

6348

E30

Published

SEMI style/regulation conformance

North America

6572

E30

Development

Add Stream 21, Cleanup Process Program Management.

North America

6552

E5

Cycle 5, 2020

Data collection setup, terminology

North America

6598

E37, E37.1

Cycle 5, 2020

Standardize TCP/IP port numbers

North America

6597

E173

Adjudication Pending

Minor updates, clarification

Awaiting I&CC adjudication from cycle 2, 2020 voting (no negatives) and the task force recommendation from Spring 2020.

North America

6647

E116

Development

Recommendations from the ABFI task force

 

Current Ballot Activity

Two ballots were adjudicated during the most recent GEM 300 task force meeting. For those of you new to the standards development process, the term “adjudication” means that we review the results of the voting and recommend handling of all negative votes and comments received. The recommendations by the task force are then presented to and finalized at the committee level. Since the North America I&CC did not meet, the failed and super-clean ballots are being transferred to other regions (probably Taiwan) for further processing. Passed ballots with any negatives or comments are put on hold until NA I&CC meets so that the merits of the comments and overridden negatives can be evaluated.

6552A E5

This ballot modifies the E5 SECS-II standard. The ballot included three line-items, each of which is voted on separately

  1. This is the most exciting activity in this ballot because it will give GEM host software much better tools for managing and testing GEM data collection. The first line item proposed adding several new messages to the E5 standard including a message to:
    1. Query the list of defined report identifiers
    2. Query report definitions
    3. Query a list of event report links
    4. Query the list of enabled events (this could already be done using Status Variable EventsEnabled)
    5. Query the list of streams and functions configured for spooling
    6. Query the list of defined trace identifiers
    7. Query trace definitions
  1.  
  2. Establish proper definitions for status variables, data variables and equipment constants. Additionally, deprecate the usage of the data item “DVNAME” which has generated confusion for years since it means a data variable identifier and not a data variable name.
  3. Clarify the usage of message S7F17/F18. This message allows deletion of one or more recipes, but only returns a single acknowledgement code. The new clarification defines what to expect when an error is returned.

Each of the line items had at least one comment or negative; therefore, none was super-clean. The GEM 300 task force decided to pass line items 1 and 3, but fail line item 2.

6598A E37

The primary purpose of this ballot is to clarify some confusing text related to the T8 timer. Additionally, there are other improvements related to recommended settings. The GEM 300 task force decided to fail this ballot.

New Ballot Activity

Here is a summary of the next set of ballots to expect from the NA GEM 300 task force planned to be presented for Cycle 7 voting later this year.

Ballot

Specification

Description

6552B

E5

A rework of ballot 6552A line item #2, which is described above.

6598B

E37

A rework of ballot 6598A described above.

6647

E116

Recommendations from the ABFI task force to allow the GEM host to declare scheduled/unscheduled down time and for the equipment to declare an Engineering mode. This will allow E116 to map better to E10.

6572

E30

A major change to the GEM standard to officially allow usage of Stream 21 for large unformatted recipes and E172 SEDD files, deprecation of some little used recipe alternatives like E42, implementation of the new E5 messages from ballot 6552A line item #1, and several other enhancements.

Note that the ballot number will be changing due to a late scope change.

?

E148

Upgrade NTP from version 3 to version 4.

 

Getting Involved

For those interested in participating, it is easy to join SEMI standards activities. Anyone can register at www.semi.org/standardsmembership.

All SEMI task force ballot activities are logged at http://downloads.semi.org/web/wstdsbal.nsf/TFOFandSNARFsbyCommittee?OpenView&Start=1&Count=1000&ExpandView

After joining the standards activities, anyone can get involved. The task forces post everything on the connected @ SEMI website https://connect.semi.org/home. The North America GEM 300 task force community is called “GEM 300 Task Force - North America”.

To find out more about SEMI Standards, GEM300, or to talk to standards expert, click the button below. 

Ask an Expert

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, GEM300

Semiconductor Backend Processes: Additional SEMI Standards Related to GEM

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Jul 9, 2020 11:30:00 AM

Background

In a few previous blogs I shared how the relatively new SEMI Advanced Backend Factory Integration (ABFI) task force in North America has already decided to promote the adoption of the GEM standard and selective adoption of the GEM300 equipment communication standards. In this blog I will summarize the task force’s plans to consider adoption of additional SEMI information and control standards that are complementary to GEM and GEM300.

Additional SEMI Standards for the Backend Consideration

Many of the standards listed below were developed a few years after GEM300 but are now considered to be part of the modern GEM300 set.

SEMI Designation

Standard Name

E84

Specification for Enhanced Carrier Handoff Parallel I/O Interface

E116

Specification for Equipment Performance Tracking

E116.1

Specification for SECS-II Protocol for Equipment Performance Tracking (EPT)

E142

Specification for Substrate Mapping

E142.1

Specification for XML Schema for Substrate Mapping

E142.2

Specification for SECS-II Protocol for Substrate Mapping

E148

Specification for Time Synchronization and Definition of the TS-Clock Object

E157

Specification for Module Process Tracking

E172

Specification for SECS Equipment Data Dictionary (SEDD)

E173

Specification for XML SECS-II Message Notation (SMN)

 

E84 Carrier Handoff

E84 Carrier Handoff is the only standard in this list that not a GEM standard because it deals with a separate parallel I/O interface. This interface is completely independent of GEM, although it is coordinated with E87 Carrier Management when both are supported. However, since E84 Carrier Handoff is often included in the GEM300 discussions and requirements, it is worth discussing here because it is a standard that the Backend industry should selectively adopt.

GEM-Backend-2-1

The E84 standard defines the handshake signals for use in a parallel I/O (PIO) interface to automate carrier delivery and carrier removal. The automated material handling system (AMHS) might use either an automated guided vehicle (AGV) or overhead transport (OHT) system, yet either way, the material is delivered in a carrier. E84 is widely used and accepted in every semiconductor wafer fab (front end) and an obvious choice for backend manufacturing when delivering carriers.

E116 Specification for Equipment Performance Tracking

E116 Equipment Performance Tracking was discussed in an earlier blog since there are plans to update this specification to better support backend operations. E116 is applicable to any manufacturing equipment in any industry because it is largely based on SEMI E10 principles which define generic terms for measuring any equipment’s reliability, availability and maintainability. As a bonus, each major component in the equipment can also be modelled to track its productivity.

E142 Specification for Substrate Mapping

E142 Substrate Mapping and its subordinate standards (E142.1 XML Schema for Substrate Mapping and E142.2 SECS-II Protocol for Substrate Mapping) define generic substrate maps and how to transfer them to and from an equipment through a GEM interface. Substrate maps are two dimensional arrays of data that correspond to a physical substrate—which may be a wafer, strip or tray. The map defines the dimensions of the substrate, significant locations on the substrate, and can include data about the locations (such as a numbering scheme for unambiguously identifying specific locations). For example, E142 can be used to tag “known good” devices on a substrate.

Some equipment types require a substrate map before processing can proceed. Some equipment can generate substrate maps. And some equipment both require a substrate map before processing and generate an updated substrate map after processing is completed. In E142, the substrate map is expressed in an XML file that conforms with the E142 XML schema. A lot of backend equipment need substrate maps for normal operation, so E142 is an obvious choice. Note that E142 is currently undergoing some interesting improvements via the ABFI task force to store additional data needed to address enhanced traceability requirements.

Substrate mapping is an excellent demonstration of horizontal communication implemented using GEM. Horizontal communication is when data is shared directly from one equipment to another equipment. Traditionally, horizontal communication in GEM is implemented indirectly; one equipment passes data to the host and then the host passes that data on to the equipment that needs it. In this sense, the GEM host acts as a type of broker between units of equipment.

There are significant advantages in using this indirect style of horizontal communication. For example, Equipment A might inspect a substrate, generate a substrate map and send it to the host. Equipment B might later request the substrate map from the host.

GEM-backend-2-2The benefit of using a GEM host between the equipment to realize this use case is that both Equipment A and Equipment B are only required to implement GEM—which they should be doing anyway. The equipment are not required to support additional protocols and/or custom message sequences, or to be tested against specific equipment interfaces. If each equipment follows the GEM standard, they can all be integrated into the factory system and share data through the GEM host.

E148 Specification for Time Synchronization and Definition of the TS-Clock Object

A lot of data collected in the factory is only useful when properly timestamped. Moreover, timestamps can only be compared among data from multiple sources when those timestamps are synchronized. This is where SEMI E148 enters the picture.

The E148 Time Synchronization specification requires equipment to support the industry standard Network Time Protocol (NTP) and share information about its implementation. And NTP software synchronizes computer clocks.

Because the backend industry segment is trending towards more and more data collection, it is critical to have proper timestamping for that data, and therefore time synchronization for its sources. A full E148 implementation may not be required, but certainly the equipment should support NTP as described in E148. If an equipment control systems is composed of multiple computers, E148 states that they should all be synchronized with a single computer designated as the master, which is a good idea if the other computers are generating data with timestamps.

E157 Specification for Module Process Tracking

E157 Module Process Tracking does not apply to all backend equipment. To use E157 Module Process Tracking, there must be at least one process module (aka a process chamber) which processes one substrate or a batch of material at a time. If multiple substrates are processed at a time but each having different start and stop times, then this specification cannot be applied.

E157 Module Process Tracking defines a very simple processing state model which is implemented independently for each process chamber.

GEM-backend-2-3The state model reports when the process chamber is either idle (Not Executing) or processing a recipe (Executing). And when processing a recipe, each time an individual step in the recipe starts, completes, or fails, this is reported. It is up to the implementer to decide what constitutes a recipe step. In my experience, most equipment that could adopt E157 have already implemented something very similar using a set of GEM events. However, rather than implementing something custom, it is better for end users and equipment manufacturers alike if the implementations are standardized.

E157 is a prime example of an exceptionally simple and well-written standard built on top of GEM technology that is easy to implement and provides a lot of end user value. Hopefully the ABFI task force can develop something based on E157 principles that is well suited for backend equipment that cannot accommodate the full scope of the current standard.

E172 Specification for SECS Equipment Data Dictionary (SEDD)

Go back in time (not that far, actually), and “GEM documentation” meant a stack of printed documentation on paper that was expected to be delivered with the equipment. Today “GEM documentation” means an MS Word document, PDF file, Excel spreadsheet, or some other electronic representation of the same information. Nearly any digital format is acceptable.

Nevertheless, E172 SECS Equipment Data Dictionary is the future of GEM documentation. The GEM documentation is provided in a standardized electronic XML format called an SEDD file. E172 defines a standard XML schema. The initial version of this schema included only basic information about a GEM interface. This was expanded in a later version to include several more details. Soon, I hope to report that the E30 GEM standard has been modified to officially include SEDD files as one form of documentation. Additionally, this should include enhancing the GEM standard to allow an SEDD file to be transferred directly through the GEM interface. This will significantly improve GEM’s plug-and-play capability by enabling factory host software to consume an SEDD file and automatically configure the GEM host software to support an equipment’s specific implementation of GEM and GEM messages.

As the backend industry segment is increasingly implementing GEM in its factories, I expect SEDD files to be required from all backend equipment manufacturers.

E173 Specification for XML SECS-II Message Notation (SMN)

In order to diagnose problems in a GEM interface, it is essential to have logging for the GEM messages transferred between the host and equipment. Typically, both the GEM host and equipment’s GEM interface will provide logging functionality. In the past, a notation called SML (SECS Message Language) was used for logging GEM messages. Unfortunately, SML was never standardized or even sufficiently well defined. As result, there are many different variations of SML throughout the world. While SML notation itself is relatively easy to generate with software, the breadth of implementation variations makes it difficult to automatically parse and use.

Fortunately, the SEMI North America GEM300 task force created E173 XML SECS-II Message Notation (SMN) to solve this problem. SMN defines an XML schema that anyone can use to document and log GEM SECS-II messages. The schema is feature rich allowing for both minimum and elaborate XML decoration. As an example of its usefulness and flexibility, the E172 SEDD schema references the SMN schema file. Because SMN is based on XML, it is both very easy for software to generate and consume. There are numerous software tools and libraries available in virtually every software programming language for working with XML. Using SMN with GEM allows GEM to continue to send and receive messages in an efficient binary format, yet still enjoy the benefits of using a decorated, human-readable text notation for diagnosing issues.

I expect the ABFI task force to recommend that the backend industry segment adopt SMN in all equipment GEM interfaces.

Conclusion

As backend factories adopt GEM, we expect that they will also want to use the latest technologies with it, including SMN, SEDD, Module Process Tracking and Equipment Performance Tracking. Watch for more details and updates from the SEMI Advanced Backend Factory Integration task force as its work progresses—and feel free to join this initiative if you want to help steer and accelerate this activity!

To download the GEM300 White Paper, click the button below.

GEM300

 

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Doing Business with Cimetrix, GEM300

Semiconductor Back End Processes: Selective GEM300 Adoption

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Jun 24, 2020 11:15:00 AM

GEM and GEM300 Adoption

In a previous blog I shared how the relatively new SEMI task force in North America called “Advanced Back End Factory Integration” (ABFI) has already decided to promote the adoption of the GEM standard. In this blog I will explain how the task force is also planning to selectively adopt what is often called the GEM300 set of standards. I say “planning” because this is a work in progress and subject to the standardization process in which we strive for consensus among the participants. However, one can argue that this plan should not be particularly controversial since the GEM300 standards have already been adopted by several major manufacturers of semiconductor back end equipment.

What are the GEM300 Standards?

There is no official “GEM300” definition, but at a minimum, all the experts agree that the GEM300 set of SEMI standards includes the following:

SEMI Designation

Standard Name

E5

Specification for SEMI Equipment Communications Standard 2 Message Content (SECS-II)

E30

Specification for the Generic Model for Communications and Control of Manufacturing Equipment (GEM)

E37

Specification for High-Speed SECS Message Services (HSMS) Generic Services

E37.1

Specification for High-Speed SECS Message Services Single Selected-Session Mode (HSMS-SS)

E39

Object Services Standard: Concepts, Behavior, and Services

E39.1

SECS-II Protocol for Object Services Standard (OSS)

E40

Standard for Processing Management

E40.1

Specification for SECS-II Support for Processing Management

E87

Specification for Carrier Management (CMS)

E87.1

Specification for SECS-II Protocol for Carrier Management (CMS)

E90

Specification for Substrate Tracking

E90.1

Specification for SECS-II Protocol for Substrate Tracking

E94

Specification for Control Job Management

E94.1

Specification for SECS-II Protocol for Control Job Management (CJM)

 

Seen together like this in a table, it seems like a lot to study and learn. And it is daunting. However, it is important to remember that most of the primary standards (like E87 and E90) also have a subordinate standard (like E87.1 and E90.1) that defines how to implement the standard using SECS-II. Although this nearly doubles the length of the list, these “.1” standards are really just extensions of the primary standard, and are all relatively short specifications. Each of these core GEM300 standards defines specifically how to use and augment the GEM standard to implement specific factory automation requirements and production operational scenarios. Basically, they work together like this:

GEM-for-Backend-2.1

SEMI E37 (High-Speed SECS Messaging Services), E5 (SECS-II) and E30 (GEM) are the core standards for any modern GEM implementation—regardless of the GEM300 additions—so of course they apply. Each of the additional GEM300 standards builds on top of E30 and E5 to define general features for data collection, alarm handling, collection event reporting and the messaging library. For example, E87 (Carrier Management) deals with the load port services, carrier delivery, and carrier removal. E90 (Substrate Tracking) reports all substrate movement from the carrier to the process chamber and any intermediate movement. E40 (Processing Management) and E94 (Control Job Management) determine which substrates to process, which recipes to use and the substrate destinations. Finally, E39 (Object Services) defines general object handling for all of the standards.

Even though the diagram shows silicon wafers—since semiconductor front end factories use this set of GEM300 standards nearly universally—their applicability goes well beyond 300mm silicon wafer processing. However, if an equipment does not deal with the substrates (material) or substrate delivery directly, then it is best just implementing GEM rather than GEM300.

How can these SEMI standards be applied to other equipment?

E87 Carrier Management

Certainly, any equipment dealing with a FOUP (front-opening universal pod) that holds silicon wafers can adopt E87 Carrier Management to manage the load ports and carrier validation. But E87 Carrier Management is written in a manner flexible enough that equipment handling many other types of material can adopt it. Here are the criteria:

    1. The material arrives in a container of some sort.

      The shape of the container, the number of slots in the container and the orientation of the slots do not matter. The container can be a rectangular tray with pockets. It can also be round with pockets. E87 Carrier Management refers to these containers as carriers.
    2. The material slots in the container can be ordered.

      In a FOUP, the material is in a horizontally stacked orientation. However, the principles of E87 Carrier Management can also apply to other material orientations. Whatever the container type, there needs to be clearly defined slot numbering. E87 Carrier Management only defines the order for a stacked container; therefore, other container styles need standardization.

With these two criteria, E87 Carrier Management can be applied to add value to the equipment by supporting an increased level of factory automation.

What features determine whether E87 Carrier Management can be adopted?

    1. Carrier (Container) ID

      If there is a carrier ID of some sort, it is of course very useful for implementing carrier ID verification. The carrier ID can be a barcode or any other type of identifier. But even if there is no carrier ID (even a barcode would suffice), then while under remote control the host can assign an ID to the carrier. Alternatively, while under local control the equipment software can generate a unique carrier ID.

    2. Carrier (Container) ID Reader

      E87 Carrier Management anticipated that a unit of equipment might not have a carrier ID reader. It also anticipated that a carrier ID reader might be out of service or defective, and therefore should be ignored. Not having a carrier ID reader means that you will not have the benefit of verifying that the correct container has arrived.

    3. Number of Slots in the Container

      A standard FOUP for silicon wafers has 25 slots. But the number of slots in a container is not limited or restricted.

When can’t E87 Carrier Management be applied?

For E87 Carrier Management to be applied, the material needs to arrive and/or depart in some sort of container. If material arrives and departs continuously without any container, such as on a conveyor, then there is no container or load port for E87 Carrier Management to manage. Of course, GEM can still be applied without E87 and the other GEM300 standards, although E90 Substrate Tracking might still be useful.

What are the benefits of using E87 Carrier Management?

E87 Carrier Management provides quite a few benefits to any equipment that can adopt it.

  • Confirmation that the correct container arrived at the equipment
  • Confirmation that the container has the expected material in its various locations
  • Reporting current load port states (e.g., occupied, ready for unloading, ready for loading)
  • Placing a load port in and out of service, such as for maintenance and repair
  • Notifying the equipment when a container will be arriving
  • Managing container storage
  • Reporting when the material from a container is nearly completed processing
  • Load port identification
  • Assigning substrate IDs

E90 Substrate Tracking

The “substrate” term is not restricted to silicon wafers, but rather applies to any type of product material. This generalization of the substrate term means that E90 Substrate Tracking can be applied to many different types of equipment.

Normally substrate tracking is considered in terms of fixed substrate locations, such as a slot in a container, a specific location in a pre-aligner, the end effector of a robot arm, or a specific process chamber. However, just a like a robot for handling silicon wafers can have multiple arms for handling multiple substrates, a conveyor can be similarly modeled to have multiple substrate locations. For example, if a conveyor can hold 50 small substrates at a time, then it could be modeled with 50 substrate locations for high-precision material tracking. Doing so allows E90 to be used to track substrates even while on a conveyor. The time each substrate is placed on a conveyor can be used to deduce the order of the material on the conveyor.

E90 Substrate Tracking also provides for substrate ID verification. This is only possible when the substrates have an identification code that can be read, such as a barcode or 2D data matrix, and when the equipment has the hardware capable of reading the identification code. When both are present, substrate ID verification can allow the factory to confirm each substrate before processing, and thereby reduce scrap.

When an equipment transports and processes multiple units of material internally using any type of container, it is called batch processing. E90 Substrate Tracking also supports this method by identifying batch locations and by providing data collection features specific to batch movement.

When can’t E90 Substrate Tracking be applied?

In order to use E90 Substrate Tracking, the equipment must have at least two substrate locations and work with some type of substrate. Without these there is no benefit in implementing E90 Substrate Tracking.

What are the benefits of using E90 Substrate Tracking?

E90 Substrate Tracking provides many benefits to any equipment that handles material.
  • Providing history of substrate movement, including timestamps for each location change
  • Substrate identification
  • Substrate location identification
  • Factory substrate verification, including the automated rejection of invalid substrates
  • Providing processing status for each substrate
  • Implementing virtual substrate tracking for lost substrates

E40 Processing Management

E40 Processing Management creates a list of materials to process and the name of the recipe to use. When using silicon wafer substrates, this list is either in the form of a carrier ID and a set of slot numbers, or a list of substrate IDs.

When can’t E40 Processing Management be applied?

If an equipment processes material continuously without having a discrete set of material that is known and identified ahead of time, you cannot apply E40 Processing Management. E40 Processing Management assumes that you have a specific set of material to process. If each substrate is simply processed as it arrives, then you are better off just using GEM’s PP-SELECT remote command to choose the correct recipe.

What are the benefits of using E40 Processing Management?

E40 Processing Management provides multiple benefits when it can be applied to an equipment:

  • Easily configure the equipment to process a specific set of material with a specific recipe. For example, 20 substrates can all be processed with the same recipe, or each with a different recipe.
  • Allows the equipment to support process tuning in which specific default settings in a selected recipe can be overwritten with new values. This is far easier than creating a proliferation of nearly identical recipes.

E94 Control Job Management

E40 Processing Management can be used in a standalone fashion but is usually implemented in conjunction with E94 Control Job Management. I recommend implementing both. Even if you don’t need all the extra features of Control Job Management, it adds very little overhead and is easy to use.

When can’t E94 Control Job Management be applied?

E94 Control Job Management cannot be used without E40 Processing Management, because its primary function is to manage the E40 process jobs. Therefore, its applicability is subject to the same criteria as E40 Processing Management.

What are the benefits of using E94 Control Job Management?

E94 Control Job Management has some features that benefit some equipment:

  • Allows material to arrive in one container and depart in another. This is beneficial when the source container needs to be kept uncontaminated by the effects of a process.
  • Allows material to be sorted based on some criteria. This is beneficial when sorting takes place based on inspection and/or other conditions, and the material is subsequently routed to different destination containers based on the sorting.
  • Manages a set of process jobs. For example, one can abort, pause or resume all process jobs.

How does all of this apply to the back end industry segment?

Factories must decide if they want the benefits of GEM300. Although E90 Substrate Tracking can be applied to most equipment, E87 Carrier Management, E40 Processing Management and E94 Control Job Management are only applicable to the equipment that deliver and/or remove material in containers. The features of each standard may not seem remarkable in and of themselves, but it is important to remember that these features have been implemented in a standardized way that many equipment manufacturers and their factory customers around the world have all agreed to follow—and that is truly remarkable.

One of the primary benefits of the GEM300 standards is the factory’s ability to move material to the equipment and process it in any order. The term “process” is used very loosely with the understanding that in addition to material transformation, inspection, metrology, sorting, testing, packaging, and other manufacturing activities are all types of processing. The material can be moved from any equipment to any equipment. This flexibility is a key to the success of modern integrated circuit manufacturing. It allows for the fabrication of many products without moving equipment or setting up conveyors. It allows process steps to be added or removed at any time. It enables the optimum use of inspection and metrology equipment since the same equipment can be used before and after any process step. The GEM300 standards directly support this flexibility.

The SEMI Advanced Back End Factory Integration task force plans to standardize the criteria for determining which standards apply based on an equipment’s functionality. What I’ve explained in this posting is just the starting point for this work—there is much more to be done. We welcome more participants on the task force to ensure the standardization is done accurately and efficiently.

Contact Us

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Doing Business with Cimetrix, GEM300

Semiconductor Back End Processes: Adopting GEM Judiciously

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on May 14, 2020 10:20:17 AM

Equipment Communication Leadership in Wafer Fabrication

For many years the semiconductor industry’s wafer fabrication facilities, where semiconductor devices are manufactured on [principally] silicon substrates, have universally embraced and mandated the GEM standard on nearly 100% of the production equipment. This includes the complete spectrum of front end of line (FEOL – device formation) and back end of line (BEOL – device interconnect) processes and supporting equipment. Most equipment also implement an additional set of SEMI standards, often called the “GEM 300” communication standards because their creation and adoption coincided with the first 300mm wafer manufacturing. Interestingly, there are no features in these standards specific to a particular wafer size.shutterstock_405869995_backend

Together, the GEM and GEM 300 standards have enabled the industry to process substrates in fully automated factories like Micron demonstrates in this video and GLOBALFOUNDRIES demonstrates in this video.

Specifically, the GEM 300 standards are used to manage the following crucial steps in the overall fabrication process:

  • automated carrier delivery and removal at the equipment
  • load port tracking and configuration
  • carrier ID and carrier content (slot map) verification
  • job execution where a recipe is assigned to specific material
  • remote control to start jobs and respond to crisis situations (e.g., pause, stop or abort processing)
  • material destination assignment after processing
  • precise material location tracking and status monitoring within the equipment
  • processing steps status reporting
  • overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) monitoring

Additionally, the GEM standard enables

  • the collection of unique equipment data to feed numerous data analysis applications such as statistical process control
  • equipment-specific remote control
  • alarm reporting for fault detection
  • interaction with an equipment operator/technician via on-screen text
  • preservation of valuable data during a communication failure

Semiconductor Back End Process Industry Follows the Lead

After wafer processing is completed, the wafers are shipped to a semiconductor back end manufacturing facility for packaging, assembly, and test. Historically this industry segment has used GEM and GEM 300 sporadically but not universally. This is now changing.

In North America, SEMI created a new task force called “Advanced Back end Factory Integration” (ABFI) to organize and facilitate this industry segment’s implementation of more robust automation capabilities. To this end, the task force is charged with defining GEM and GEM 300 support in back end equipment, including processes such as bumping, wafer test, singulation, die attach, wire bonding, packaging, marking, final test and final assembly. As its first priority, the task force has focused on updating the SEMI E142 standard (Substrate Mapping) to enhance wafer maps to report additional data necessary for single device traceability. Soon the task force will shift its focus to define GEM and GEM 300 back end use cases and adoption more clearly.

Why GEM?

GEM was selected for several reasons.

  • A lot of the equipment in the industry already have GEM interfaces.
  • GEM provides two primary forms of data collection that are suitable for all data collection applications. This includes the polling of equipment and process status information using trace reports where the factory can collect selected variables at any frequency. Additionally, collection event reports allow a factory system to subscribe to notifications of just the collection events it is interested in, and to specify what data to report with each those collection events.
  • Most of the equipment suppliers have GEM experience either from implementing GEM on the back end equipment or from implementing GEM on their frontend equipment.
  • Factories can transfer experienced engineers from semiconductor frontend facilities into the back end with the specific goal of increasing back end automation.
  • GEM has proven its flexibility to support any type of manufacturing equipment. GEM can be implemented on any and all equipment types to support remote monitoring and control.
  • GEM is a highly efficient protocol, publishing only the data that is subscribed to in a binary format that minimizes computing and network resources.
  • GEM is self-describing. It takes very little time to connect to an equipment’s GEM interface and collect useful data.
  • GEM can be used to control the equipment, even when there are special features that must be supported. For example, it is straightforward to provide custom GEM remote commands to allow the factory to determine when periodic calibrations and cleaning should be performed to keep equipment running optimally.

Improved Overall Equipment Effectiveness Tracking

The ABFI task force has already proposed some changes to the SEMI E116 standard (Specification for Equipment Performance Tracking, or EPT). EPT is one of several standards that can be implemented on a GEM interface to provide additional standardized performance monitoring behavior beyond the GEM message set. This standard already enables reporting when equipment and modules within the equipment are IDLE, BUSY and BLOCKED. A module might be a load port, robot, conveyor or process chamber. When BUSY, this standard requires reporting what the equipment or module is doing. When BLOCKED, this standard requires reporting why the equipment or module is BLOCKED.

After analyzing the requirements of the back end industry segment, the task force decided to adopt and enhance the EPT standard. For example, the current EPT standard does not make any distinction between scheduled and unscheduled downtime. However, a few minor changes to E116 would allow the factory to notify the equipment when downtime is scheduled by the factory, greatly enhancing the factory’s ability to track overall equipment effectiveness and respond accordingly.  

Additional Future Work

Many of the GEM 300 standards can be applied to some of the back end equipment when applicable and beneficial. The task force is defining specific functional requirements and evaluation criteria to make these determinations and publish the resulting recommendations in a new standard. Representatives from several advanced back end factories are already closely involved in this work, but more participation is always welcome. For more information, click the button below!

Contact Us

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Customer Support, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Products

Cached Data: A New Feature in EDA Freeze 3

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Jan 22, 2020 11:15:00 AM

Background

Several years ago, I was working with a client implementing EDA who wanted to collect data at higher than typical rates using the EDA trace data collection feature (essentially periodic data polling). The typical EDA data collection rate I was used to was 10 Hz, with a couple of clients implementing 20 Hz or even 40 Hz. This client, however, wanted to collect data at about 1000 Hz. This was a lot faster than we normally could accomplish, especially since the software timers and clock functionality in Windows are really designed for about 15 ms intervals. Therefore, the normal means of implementing the data collection was not going to work very well.

With a little creative thinking, I came up with a solution. Instead of using trace data collection, I decided to try event data collection. Every 1 second, I triggered an event notification and provided 1000 data samples with the event that had been collected at 1 ms intervals and stored. The 1000 samples were presented to the EDA client as an array of data, which EDA supports directly, and this solution worked very well. I also found that this approach used surprisingly few resources to implement and transmit, largely because the data is so compact. It was also very reliable.

Although this event with array data solution worked in this very specific situation, there were a few drawbacks. First of all, the client could not choose the data collection interval. Normally with trace data collection the client chooses the data collection rate to meet the needs of a specific data collection application. Secondly, the client receiving the data had to know what the data meant. The client application software had to be programmed to understand that each value in the 1000 sample array represented data collected every 1 ms. Finally, I could not use the trace start trigger and stop trigger to automatically enable and disable the reporting of the data collected. Normally, trace data collection can be started and stopped automatically to collect data between specific equipment events, which is a nice feature to focus data collection between specific processing steps or other meaningful activities.

EDA Freeze 3

A couple of years ago, the SEMI North America DDA (Diagnostics and Data Acquisition) task force, which I co-lead, decided to begin work on the next version of the EDA standards suite, commonly referred to as EDA Freeze 3. As part of this work, I raised an issue that I wanted our task force to address. That is, I wanted to be able to collect data using the EDA standard at higher frequencies than the typical 10 Hz available using today’s trace data collection. In particular, I wanted to leverage what I had learned using the event data array solution to report data collection at 1000 Hz and faster, and make this an integral part of the EDA standard without the limitations of my current solution. This new feature is now called Cached Data.

Cached Data Features

The basic principle behind this new feature is simple. First, allow the EDA client to define a Cached Data Request and specify the reporting frequency, data collection frequency, and other attributes like the number of samples, a start trigger, a stop trigger, and whether or not the triggers are cyclical. Then have the EDA server report the data for each parameter as a compact data array.

For example, an EDA client might ask for a parameter at a collection interval of 0.1 ms (10 KHz) and a reporting interval of 1 second. The result would be a set of Cached Data Reports that look like this:

EDA-Freeze-3-1-1

The equipment would collect the data every 0.1 ms and store the values for 1 second, and then send the Cached Data Report with the collected values in a tightly packed array. The EDA client would receive the data once per second and would know the data collection frequency.

Limitations

There are some limitations to the Cached Data proposal. For example, this type of data array reporting is only practical for some data types like integers, floats, Booleans and bytes. This type of data reporting is not practical for structured data or strings. Moreover, not all data can or should be collected at such high rates. Collecting data at these high rates requires robust software specifically designed for high-speed data collection. Therefore, the EDA proposal includes a way for parameter metadata to specify where the cached data feature can be used, and includes the specific minimum and maximum data collection frequencies. Therefore, the Cached Data feature is expected to be used for a limited subset of the available parameters for which the EDA server is specifically designed to provide such high-speed data collection.

gRPC & Protocol Buffers

The proposed EDA Freeze 3 standards also include the use of gRPC and Protocol Buffer technology, thereby moving EDA away from SOAP/XML over HTTP. gRPC with Protocol Buffers is a solution for a binary interface. Prelimiary test results reported to the DDA task force show dramatic throughput improvements and reduced bandwidth requirements for EDA. Additionally, the testing confirmed that reporting data in compact arrays is far more efficient for transmitting large amounts of data. In other words, the Cached Data feature is expected be even more effective due to this EDA protocol change.

SEMI Voting

Soon a new voting cycle for SEMI standards will begin where we vote on new versions of the standard. The Cached Data feature is included in two SEMI ballots: ballot 6553, a major revision of the SEMI E134 SPECIFICATION FOR DATA COLLECTION MANAGEMENT, and ballot 6527, a major revision of the SEMI E125 SPECIFICATION FOR EQUIPMENT SELF DESCRIPTION. Both are planned for voting in SEMI voting cycle 2 in 2020. Task force members are currently reviewing the latest revision of the proposed ballots.
Studies have already shown vast improvements in factory applications when collecting data at 10 Hz instead of 1 Hz. The increased performance of EDA Freeze 3 will allow the industry to dramatically improve manufacturing processes even more when data can be collected and reported at rates of 1000 Hz, 10 KHz, and beyond.

Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry, EDA/Interface A, EDA Best Practices

Why implement a SECS GEM driver?

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Dec 12, 2019 2:15:00 PM

A SECS GEM driver can be looked at from a factory or equipment supplier perspective. I will discuss both of them in that order.

Factory Perspective

A little background:

semiconductor-factory-1

From a factory perspective, a SECS GEM driver is the host software that talks to an equipment’s GEM interface. It allows the factory to take advantage of the features implemented in each equipment’s GEM interface. However, what the factory can do with an equipment’s GEM interface is also limited by what the equipment supplier has included in that interface. The GEM standard is very flexible and scalable, which accounts for the widespread and growing adoption of GEM technology—it can be adapted to any manufacturing equipment and market segment.

It is possible to implement features in a GEM interface. But this also means that just having a GEM interface on the equipment does not ensure that it has been correctly designed to meet the factory’s expectations. An equipment supplier’s poor implementation of GEM can frustrate a factory’s plans for Smart Manufacturing by not providing features that the factory expects that could have been implemented. The tendency of most equipment suppliers is to implement the absolute minimum functionality in a GEM interface to save money. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the factory during equipment acceptance to evaluate the GEM interface to make sure that it is robust and has the full set of required features. The factory must have a clear vision of its needs both initially and later as its Smart Manufacturing goals are realized. It is not unusual for a factory to request an upgrade to an equipment’s GEM interface with more features, but these modifications usually come at a cost.

Although a factory’s SECS GEM driver must be adaptable to different suppliers’ GEM implementations, it only needs to support the specific features that the factory uses. For example, if the factory is only concerned about alarm and event report notification, then it does not need to support the messages for recipe management, remote control or trace data collection. As such, the investment in a SECS GEM driver is proportional to the number of GRM features that are utilized. However, the SECS GEM driver should also support variations in alarm and collection event implementations, because each equipment type will support a unique set of alarms and a unique set of collection events with unique data variable for event reports. Moreover, from equipment type to equipment type, the same collection ID might have different meanings. The SECS GEM driver therefore needs an ability to adapt by having a method to characterize the GEM implementation (such as a list of available collection events) and the ability to map a general capability to the actual implementation (such as “material arrived” = collection event ID 5).

So why would a factory want to use SECS GEM technology?

factory-alan-1In order to reach the goals of Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing, factories must be able to monitor and control manufacturing equipment remotely. Therefore the equipment must have a software interface to provide this functionality and the factory must be able to access and use this interface.

Factories could let the equipment suppliers choose their own implementation technologies for this kind of capability, but as a result, different suppliers might take a different approach for every equipment type. This would be tremendously expensive and resource intensive. It is far better to standardize on one or two technologies, and ideally, one that is proven to work and known to have all of the necessary features. This allows the factory to achieve its goals with minimum investment, focusing instead on using the equipment interface in creative ways to improve manufacturing.

SECS GEM is the most proven technology already widely used across the globe and supported by the most sophisticated and automated industry in the world; semiconductor manufacturing. It is also widely adopted several other industries, making it a safe choice. The range of production applications supported by SECS GEM data collection include productivity monitoring, statistical and feedback/feedforward process control, recipe selection and execution tracking, fault detection and classification, predictive maintenance, reliability tracking, and many more. By contrast, alternatives to SECS GEM have so far been demonstrated to be incomplete or immature solutions. 

What specifically can you do with the SECS GEM technology?

  1. Collection Events: Be notified when things happen at the equipment, such as when processing or inspection begins and completes, or when a particular step in a recipe is reached.
  2. Collection Event Reports: Collect data with collection events. The host chooses what data it wants to receive. For example, track the ID of material arriving and departing from the equipment, or components placed on a board.
  3. Alarms: Be notified when bad or dangerous things are detected, receive a text description of the alarm condition, and when the issue is cleared.
  4. Trace Data Collection: Tell the equipment to report status information (software and/or hardware data) at a specific interval. For example, track digital and/or analog sensors during processing at 10 Hz frequency.
  5. Recipes: Upload, download, delete and select recipes as desired, whether in ASCII or binary formats. Make sure that the right recipe is run at the right time to eliminate misprocessing and minimize scrap. Track when someone changes a recipe.
  6. Remote Commands: Control the equipment, such as when to start, stop, pause, resume and abort. Custom commands, such as calibrate, skip or anything else can be supported.
  7. Equipment Constants: Configure and track the equipment configuration settings remotely.
  8. Terminal Services: Interact with the equipment operator remotely or provide instructions for the operator.
  9. Extensions: There are numerous extensions to GEM that can be supported but are not yet form requirements. For example, implement wafer or strip maps from E142 to provide and report details about material in XML format.

Equipment Supplier Perspective

AdobeStock_12291008-1

From an equipment supplier’s perspective, a SECS GEM driver is the software used to implement GEM technology on the equipment. In other words, the software to create a GEM interface. The equipment-side software requirements are inherently more complex that the host SECS GEM driver. This is because the equipment-side features are precisely defined by the GEM standard and should be implemented to the fullest extent possible. By contrast, the host can really do whatever it wants, so a limited implementation may be sufficient. In an ideal situation, the equipment supplier will implement just enough features in its GEM interface to satisfy all of its customers and therefore ship an identical GEM interface to all its customers. It is up to the equipment supplier to decide what GEM features to implement and how to adapt them for a particular type of equipment, but the factory should provide clear expectations about its planned use of the interface. It is also the factory’s responsibility to qualify the GEM interface during equipment acceptance. Note that it is not uncommon for factories to withhold partial equipment payment until the GEM interface has also passed its own acceptance.

Some equipment suppliers include the GEM driver as a standard feature on all equipment. This is ideal because it makes the GEM interface much easier to support and distribute. Some equipment suppliers only install GEM when it is specifically purchased. This often results in installation problems because the field technicians may or may not be knowledgeable enough or specifically trained to do this correctly. Other equipment suppliers include the GEM driver on all equipment, but only enable it when the feature has been purchased. This is better than attempting GEM interface installation after equipment delivery because the GEM interface can often be enabled with a simple equipment configuration setting.

Here are some key reasons for implementing a SECS GEM driver:

1. “One ring to rule them all”

By implementing a GEM interface, an equipment supplier can avoid having to implement multiple interfaces. Because GEM is the most feature complete option, the it should be implemented first and Thoroughly integrated with the equipment control and user interface software. If other protocols must be supported, they can usually be mapped onto the GEM capabilities or a separate external system because they only include a subset of GEM functionality.

2. Equipment Supplier Application Software

If the GEM implementation includes support for multiple host connections, then the GEM interface can be used by the equipment supplier itself for many applications. For example, an equipment supplier can develop a software package that monitors and controls their specific equipment at a factory. This can run simultaneously and independently while the factory GEM host software is connected. Many factories are willing to buy applications from the equipment supplier that enhance the productivity of the equipment they have purchased. As an example, equipment suppliers are better equipped to develop predictive maintenance applications that determine when parts are approaching failure and need replacement. These applications can save the factory time and money by avoiding unscheduled downtime. Other applications can also be developed by equipment suppliers to analyze and optimize equipment execution.

3. Competitive Advantage

A well implemented GEM interface can differentiate a supplier’s equipment from that of its competitors. Factories are beginning to recognize the value in controlling and monitoring equipment remotely, and know that a poor GEM interface contributes nothing to a factory’s Smart Manufacturing initiatives. A GEM interface that goes the extra mile to be truly useful empowers the factory to excel at Smart Manufacturing and to be far more productive. Selling equipment in today’s market without a GEM interface is like selling a television without a remote. On the other hand, providing a fully featured GEM interface is like selling a smart television.

Final Words

Experts on GEM technology are available all over world. Because GEM is a mature industry standard and well defined, it can be implemented by anyone in a range of different programming languages and operating systems. however, to save time I recommend using a commercially available product rather than developing the complete GEM interface from scratch. This can save massive amounts of time and effort, and ensures the quality of the resulting implementation.

To speak with a Cimetrix GEM expert, or to find out more about our GEM software products, you can schedule a meeting by clicking the link below.

Ask an Expert

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0