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.
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North America SEMI Standards Meeting Fall 2017 Recap

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Nov 22, 2017 11:00:00 AM

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The SEMI North American Information & Control Committee meetings were held in Milpitas, CA at SEMI headquarters. The following activities might be important for Cimetrix customers and employees.

The DDA Task Force has officially kicked off the development of the next EDA standards, already deemed “Freeze 3” by many. Several ballots have been authorized for creation and voting early next year. This includes ballots to modify E125, E132, E134 and E138, which includes many of the core EDA standards. Additional work is also planned for E164. Most of the changes are expected to be straightforward, with a few corrections, clarifications and new features that various SEMI members have requested. E125 is probably the biggest proposed change in this set, where new messages will be added to provide the list of all parameters and the list of all events. Then the equipment nodes in the model will always reference parameters and reference events. This should clarify some of the confusion surrounding parameter definitions and parameter references.


By far, the longest discussion was surrounding the biggest decision of all. Currently, the EDA standards are using HTTP/1.1 for message transfer and SOAP/XML for message body. This means that the EDA standards are text based. At the time of EDA development, this seemed to be the best internet technology for data collection. Today, HTTP/1.1 is out of date. More recently, advances have been made in internet technology for sharing data in a binary format. The biggest advantage of transferring data in a binary message format is message efficiency. A binary message generally will be about 15 to 20 times smaller than text based messaging. This means less load on the equipment that publishes EDA data, much less load on the network and less load on the subscribing EDA clients. Many alternatives were discussed including WebSockets, HTTP/2, and even HSMS. It was discussed whether to stick with a text based protocol and use compression or move to a binary protocol. Data was presented from a DDA Task Force member regarding a performance comparison between HTTP/1.1 with text messages (like EDA today), HTTP with binary messages, HTTP/2 with SSL, WebSockets with binary messages and WebSockets with SSL. The test results showed binary messaging to be allow 25 times more data collection than the current HTTP/1.1 technology. Ultimately, it was decided that moving to a binary protocol was the right strategic direction.

Another point of discussion was how to implement binary messaging. Google has developed the Protocol Buffer technology. Specifically, we looked at version 3 called “proto3” which defines a notation for establishing binary messages. They have also published open source code gRPC in various software programming languages that implement the binary encoding and decoding for the Protocol Buffer technology and HTTP/2. This seems to be today’s best technology for binary web services. The DDA Task Force is in the process of developing a ballot to propose the adoption of this technology for the EDA messages. If approved, this would be the foundation of freeze 3 communication and a vast improvement.

In Japan, the Information & Control Committee recently created a DDA task force. The leader, Mitch Sakamoto from company ZAMA is coordinating with the North American DDA task force. Similarly, the DDA task force leaders in Korea are also working closely with North America. The Freeze 3 EDA development really is emerging as a worldwide coordinated development. The world-wide cooperation and coordination is much stronger and cohesive than the development was for Freeze 1 and Freeze 2.

The GEM 300 task force passed a ballot approving the use of SECS Message Notation (SMN) for GEM implementations. SMN could already be used anyway, but adding this to the GEM standard makes its use more official. This means that messages can be logged and documented using SMN.

The GUI task force continues to move along with planned improvements for the E95 standard. This including modernizing the graphics in the standard, updating the text and most importantly having the standard include the adoption of small screen devices as an equipment HMI. The new E95 standard will be a major revision standard.

In Korea, several ballots continue to be developed and reworked. This includes an update to the E87 carrier management services standard to allow more precise reporting when carrier approach the completion state. This includes an update to the E142 wafer map handling standard with new features in the schema file. Additionally, they are working on an equipment generic counter standard, which establish standardized methods for equipment to “count” things that happen on the equipment. This proposed specification is a favorite of mine personally. It is a clever way to recognize that it is important to count things on every equipment such as the number of times a vacuum has a been cycled, the number of times a nozzle has been used, the number of times a user has logged in, the number of times a robot has moved a substrate, the number of times an equipment has been restarted. It could be anything and it could be very different on two types of equipment. Collecting such data in a generic, natural way facilitates predictive maintenance; a key to minimizing factory equipment downtime.

Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry

Report from the SEMI North America Standards Spring Meetings 2017

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Apr 18, 2017 10:30:00 AM

semi.pngSEMI held the spring 2017 North American standards meetings during the week of April 3 at the new SEMI facility in Milpitas, CA. The new facility had only been occupied for a few weeks prior, yet SEMI was able to hold the meetings with few technical difficulties. The new facility is quite attractive with improved accommodations for standards meetings.

There is a lot of activity currently, in the two task forces that I lead; namely the GEM 300 task force and DDA task force.

Every five years SEMI re-approves every active standard. Without renewal, the standards become “inactive”. During the Information & Control Committee (I&CC) meeting a few standards were re-approved this cycle with a few editorial changes including:

  • Ballot 6066A: E130 (Specification for Prober Specific Equipment Model for 300 mm Environment) and E130.1 (Specification for SECS-II Protocol for Prober Specific Equipment Model for 300 mm Environment) 
  • Ballot 6068A: E116 (Specification for Equipment Performance Tracking) and E116.1 (Specification for SECS-II Protocol for Equipment Performance Tracking)
  • Ballot 6064A: E121 (Guide for Style and Usage of XML for Semiconductor Manufacturing Applications)

Additionally, during the Information & Control Committee (I&CC) meeting, the following ballots were passed which make changes to standard:

  • Ballot 5549A: E30 (Generic Model for Communications and Control of Manufacturing Equipment) with the following changes to the GEM standard
    • The title was changed to “Specification for the Generic Model for Communications and Control of Manufacturing Equipment”
    • The initial sections were reorganized to have sections Purpose, Scope, and Limitations which results in renumbering all following sections
    • The Application Notes were renamed Related Information
    • Equipment Constant “EnableSpooling” was added to the Variable Item List.
  • Ballot 5738: E87.1 (Specification for SECS-II Protocol for Carrier Management)
    • Title was changed to remove the provisional status. All other references to provisional status were removed.
    • Numerous editorial changes were made for clarity, misspellings, incorrect references
    • Format codes were clarified for consistency
    • The only “technical” change was to allow for up to 255 slots in a carrier for attribute “Capacity”. This makes E87.1 more consistent with E87 which does not restrict carrier capacity and with known existing implementations that have more than 25 slots in a carrier. 

Ballot 5872B, an update to the E172 Specification for SECS Equipment Data Dictionary (SEDD), failed to pass. This update adds numerous optional features to the SEDD file for documenting GEM interfaces in an XML file. With this update, GEM interfaces can be documented almost entirely in an XML file; virtually eliminating the need for the traditional GEM documentation. The most valuable addition is the list of supported SECS-II messages and the expected format for each message. By documenting GEM interfaces in an XML file, factories can write software to parse the SEDD file and automatically configure host software to adapt to an equipment’s GEM implementation. The GEM 300 task force expects this ballot to pass later this year after making a few small changes.

In the next SEMI voting cycle for North America, called “Cycle 5”, the GEM 300 task force plans to resubmit ballot 5872C to update the E172 SEDD.

Additionally, a new ballot 6114 will be submitted for vote. Ballot 6114 introduces a new set of SECS-II messages for transfer of large strings or binary data. The new messages are initially intended for transfer of large Recipe files to/from the host system. Currently, the typical stream 7 SECS-II messages are limited to 16.7 MB. With these new messages, recipes could theoretically be allowed up to about 4 GB. Additionally, the new messages could be used to transfer other types of large strings or binary streams. The new messages include a “type” field to indicate the type of object being transferred. For recipes, field will most likely be “SEMI:RECIPE”, but other types could be defined in other standards like “ProductionRecipe” for E170 or “SEDD” for E172.

In the DDA Task Force, more plans were discussed for the EDA Freeze 3. The Korea DDA Task Force leaders have committed to working with North America DDA Task Force in this effort and presented several ideas for changes. The most dramatic change they presented was to consider using WebSocket technology instead of HTTP in order to make the SOAP/XML messages perform much better by maintaining a socket connection.

The GUI task force has begun its work to revise the E95 standard. It is still a great time for new task force members to join and contribute.

The Japan GEM 300 task force have previously made some announcements concerning a GEM300A initiative to expand the traditional GEM 300 standards (E30, E37, E39, E40, E87, E90, E94) to also include newer standards developed in the Japan GEM 300 task force. Namely E170, E171 and E174. E174 has been very controversial. During the North American GEM 300 task force meeting, it was requested that if there be any initiatives to declare a GEM300A set, that this be a collaborative effort between the various GEM 300 task forces and also consider including E116, E148, E157, E172 and E173.

During the GEM 300 task force, a representative from the Japan GEM 300 task force presented some possible future ideas to have a separate GEM connection for recipe management, to ensure that data collection reporting is not hindered by the transfer of large recipes files.

Topics: Industry Highlights

Fall 2016 SEMI Standards Meeting

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Jan 18, 2017 11:30:00 AM

SEMI_logo_share.jpg SEMI North America Information & Control Task Force and Committee fall meetings were last held at SEMI headquarters November 7 through 9, 2016. During these meetings, SEMI announced that they are relocating their headquarters to Milpitas, CA. That move is currently underway. In the GEM 300 task force, all of the ballots failed to pass. This include ballot 5872A, 5549, 6026, 6066, and 6068. In the DDA task force, ballot 6064 also failed.

Ballot 5872A is work driven by Cimetrix to complete to work initially proposed for the E172 standard SEDD files, a feature to enable an electronic format for GEM documentation. Ballot 5872A failed due to some minor issues. SEDD files already provide partial GEM interface documentation in an XML file by listing the data variables, status variables, equipment constants, collection events and alarms. The ballot proposes to enhance SEDD files by adding a list of supported SECS-II messages, remote commands, SEMI standards (with compliance tables), and default event reports. The ballot will be reworked and resubmitted as ballot 5872B.

 Ballot 5549A is a title change and organizational change to the GEM E30 standard. Several years ago, SEMI required all standards to have an official designation, such as Guide or Specification. E30 currently has a title that fails to establish an official standard designation. Additionally, the standard currently fails to have the mandatory sections “Purpose”, “Scope”, “Limitations” like other standards. The ballot was delayed several years due to the SML copyright claim by Peer Group and the ensuing legal confrontation with SEMI. The ballot was finally submitted in 2016 and failed because it renamed the Application Notes as an Appendix instead of “Related Information”. Additionally, there was some confusion because the ballot was based on the 0611 version of E30 rather than the 0416 version which had just been published. This ballot will be reworked and resubmitted as ballot 5549B.

 Ballots 6026, 6066, 6068 and 6024 are reapproval ballots for standards E109, E130/E130.1, E116/E116.1 and E121. SEMI automatically submits all standards for re-approval every five years if a standard has not been revised. These standards all failed due to outdated references. They will all be resubmitted in 2017 with minor changes to correct the outdated references.

 The new GUI task force was approved to create a new major revision of the E95 standard. In particular, the new revision will accommodate new software and hardware technology when laying out equipment user interfaces.

 Cimetrix proposed a new activity to define new SECS-II messages for transferring recipes. The activity will result in a new ballot 6614. Currently, the GEM standard defines two ways to transfer unformatted recipes. Using simple Stream 7 messages S7F3 and S7F6, the entire recipe is part of a single message. This makes is really easy to implement in the host and equipment GEM software, but recipes are limited to about 16.7 MB (the maximum size of a single data item in any SECS-II message). The second way is using the large recipe scenarios which involve using a sequence of messages S7F43/F44, S13F1/S13F2, S13F3/F4, S13F5/F6 (repeated iteratively until there is an error), S6F11/F12 and finally S13F7/F8. Even for an expert, this is very complicated. Ballot 6614 will propose simple new messages for transferring a large recipe using a single message where the recipe can be broken up into multiple parts where each part is up to 16.7 MB in size. If approved, another ballot will attempt to add this to GEM standard. This will open the door for the GEM standard to be used more effectively and in more application where the 16.7 MB limitation posed an issue.

 Japan Information & Control committee (I&CC) announced the official withdrawal of OBEM standards E98 and E98.1. Japan also announced a GEM300A initiative which includes standards E170 and E171 and E174. E170 is the Production Recipe Standard which allows equipment to designate production and non-production recipes; where production recipes are given change protection. E171 defines predictive carrier logistics. Ballot 5601 defines Wafer Job Management. It is not clear whether or not there any IC makers will demand any of these newer standards. Of the three, E170 seems to be most useful and interesting. Predictive carrier logistics seems to be useful only for equipment that have carrier internal buffers. It attempts to help the equipment report when carriers will be ready for removal. It is not clear how E171 will compete with the upcoming E87 ballot 4946 to be submitted by the Korean Information & Control Committee in 2017. Ballot 4946 modified the E87 standard to predict when carriers will be ready to unload. Wafer Job Management is a controversial standard. Japan I&CC announced the passing of ballot 5601 (now E174) despite the strong opposition by multiple knowledgeable voters in other regions, and despite very underwhelming support from regional leaders in North America, Korea, Europe and Taiwan.

 Korean Information & Control committee announced plans to submit ballot 5832, a proposal for a new Generic Counter standard which is built upon the GEM standard. The standard would allow an equipment to define various types of generic “counters” that can be reset by the host. The counters could be used a wide variety of applications; particularly predictive maintenance. The standard as defined in the current ballot defines digital counters, analog counters and collection event counters. Voting period for this ballot just ended recently.

 Next North American I&CC meetings will be held first week in April, 2017.

Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry, Events

CIMConnect: Making GEM Implementation Simple for Any Industry Using Automated Manufacturing Equipment

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on May 26, 2016 1:00:00 PM

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Interest in SEMI standard E30, known as the GEM standard has grown in recent years. That interest has increased in various manufacturing industries has matured in which factories are seeking to increase automation and carefully monitor equipment activity in order to increase production and product quality. Initially, the GEM standard targeted just the semiconductor industry, but then expanded to include any industry that used manufacturing equipment. In fact, a number of years ago the name of the GEM Standard changed from the “Generic Model for Communication and Control of Semiconductor Equipment” to “Generic Model for Communication and Control of Manufacturing Equipment.” Adoption by other industries is possible because the GEM standard defines generic features to control and monitor any manufacturing equipment. The GEM standard technology is not limited to semiconductor manufacturing. Over time, other industries have taken notice, especially as they try to develop increased control over their equipment.

CIMConnect™ is the best software product on the market for implementing the GEM standard. Of course CIMConnect supports all of the required GEM features as well as additional capabilities. This even includes excellent support of the Spooling feature, which saves messages that are otherwise dropped during a loss of communication. Early implementations of the GEM standard by others gave the GEM standard’s Spooling feature a bad reputation. This reputation is undeserved when Spooling is implemented by a robust product like CIMConnect. In CIMConnect, not only does Spooling work; it works well. It has been proven by customers that CIMConnect’s Spooling implementation does not lose any messages—even while under high-stress conditions. This means that when using CIMConnect, the Spooling feature can be used to effectively preserve critical data from the equipment.

Another feature that makes CIMConnect the best GEM software product is the CIMConnect Control Panel. In the new CIMConnect release, this application was completely rewritten, redesigned in .NET,  giving it a modern look and feel while adding lots of new convenient functionality. With other GEM products, the GEM interface is essentially a black box. With CIMConnect, however, the Control Panel application gives full visibility into the GEM interface. And you can run it at any time during GEM interface development and also during production. This means that you can see what reports and traces are defined, the link between reports and events, the status of all state machines, the state of each alarm, the enable status of every event, the history of occurring collection events, the history of alarm state changes and the current values of all data variables, and status variables and equipment constants. You can also view and capture the SECS-II message logging at any time for scenario diagnostics. Additionally, the CIMConnect Control Panel provides features to simulate the occurrence of collection events, collection event data, alarms, and variable data; thereby making it a built-in simulator included requiring no additional effort. And when you are ready to update your GEM documentation appendix with the list of defined collection events, alarms, status variables, data variables, and equipment constants, use the documentation builder feature.

CIMConnect has also already adopted use of new SEMI standard E173 Specification for XML SECS-II Message Notation (SMN). CIMConnect allows software applications to use SMN notation both when providing variable values to CIMConnect, as well as when getting variable values from CIMConnect. This means that you can pass data around in XML, retaining the data type and data structure information; bringing the convenience of XML into the SECS/GEM technology. You can log the GEM communication messages using SMN format making log messages much more useful, and they are able to be easily deserialized by any software applications that has XML libraries.

For additional detailed information about CIMConnect or to request a product demonstration, please contact us.

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Cimetrix Products

SEMI Standards Meetings from the North American Information & Control Committee Forecasts the Direction of the Semiconductor Industry

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Sep 29, 2015 1:30:00 PM

During the week of SEMICON West in San Francisco this past July, the North American Information & Control Committee met to discuss and consider new and pending standards within the industry. SEMATECH was noticeably absent from the sessions. For many years, SEMATECH has been a leader in developing and promoting the GEM 300 and EDA standards.

Here are the highlights from those meetings and how they will effect you.

The DDA Task Force is in the early stages of planning a Freeze 3 version of the EDA (Interface A) standards. This may cause some concern—especially with OEMs—as some are just now getting their Freeze 1 interfaces accepted in Fabs. Freeze 2 was a big step forward in making the standards clearer and easier to adopt, but it required a lot of work to move from Freeze 1 to Freeze 2. The hope is that the transition from Freeze 2 to Freeze 3 will be easier, but there will be doubt and concern among many OEMs.

One of the changes proposed for Freeze 3 is replacing the usage of SSL (HTTP) with WS-Security, an extension to SOAP and a member of the web services specifications published by OASIS. This extension allows for secure data within a SOAP message, while still using HTTP for data transfer. This is really an underlying issue and should not affect the applications that would interface with our CIMPortal Plus product. It would allow for a secure connection between CIMPortal and the Fab client so that the data transmitted is protected from theft. There would be configuration changes required to allow the secure connection to be defined, but—once it is—the actual interaction between the OEM’s application and CIMPortal Plus should not change.

Another change being considered is the implementation of WS-ReliableMessaging, another extension to SOAP and also a member of the web services specifications published by OASIS. WS-ReliableMessaging describes a protocol that allows SOAP messages to be reliably delivered between distributed applications in the presence of software component, system, or network failures. Just as the WS-Security item above, this would be at the protocol level, an “under-the-hood” change. It should not affect the way applications interact with our product, but should provide for a more reliable connection to the host EDA client. Use of this extension could also allow EDA to be used in more factory applications, where guaranteed data acquisition is required.

The final issue that was discussed relating to Freeze 3 was a new high-frequency trace for collecting data at very high speeds triggered for short periods of time where the collected data is sent at the end of the collection period. For example, a 1 ms trace for 5 seconds where the 5,000 collected samples for each parameter would be sent at the end of the 5 second period. This change might require alterations in our products. This will help the data reporting be more efficient. Rather than reporting small individual pieces of data to the EDA client, this will allow many data samples to be sent together making for more efficient use of the network.

The GEM 300 Task Force had three ballots on hold due to the ongoing SML copyright legal trial between SEMI and The PEER Group. However, work on other pending ballots continued. The first, Ballot 5872, proposes to add new features to the E172 SEDD standard. E172 is a new standard that provides an XML schema for documenting a GEM/GEM 300 interface. Eventually, E172 can completely replace the current GEM documentation requirements.

Recipe Integrity ballot 5618 has an uncertain future since ISMI failed to pursue its development; unfortunately, the ballot had seemed very close to completion. This standard says that it will not require changes to SECS II messages, but simply clarifies what parameters are defined and how the existing pieces work together. So, essentially, it would be a standard that tells you how to use other existing standards.

Finally, the Task Force discussed enhancing the GEM 300 standards to handle equipment that bond substrates and divide substrates. This will affect E90 and could affect E40, E87, and E94 as well. These changes would likely require updates to CIM300. Right now the standards just address how to treat equipment where the same material (substrates or wafers) go in and out. Traditional material tracking assumes one wafer in, get processed, then return to an output carrier. In the proposed case, either two wafers go in and one unit comes out, or one substrate goes in and two come out

The committee is scheduled to next meet in November, so you can plan on seeing another post from me on the outcome of those meetings afterwards. Subscribe to our blog in the upper right corner of this page to be sure not to miss that or any of my future updates on the North American Information & Control Committee.

Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry, EDA/Interface A, Events

New Freeze Version of Interface A Requires New ECCE Version

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Feb 2, 2011 9:45:00 AM

by Brian Rubow
Quality Customer Support Manager

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

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

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

 SEC GEM Diagram 2 resized 600

 

 

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

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

 

Topics: EDA/Interface A, Cimetrix Products

Interface A New Freeze Version - are you prepared?

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Jun 8, 2010 4:00:00 AM

by Brian Rubow,
Product Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topics: Industry Highlights, EDA/Interface A, Cimetrix Products

SECS/GEM Communication & Parenting

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Nov 18, 2009 1:16:00 PM

by Brian Rubow,
Principal Engineer

He Said…No I Didn’t
SECS/GEM Communication I have a lot of children—seven. Many of them are still young. Sure it is a lot of fun. However, more often than I like (yet not terribly often since I have really good kids), I get caught in the middle of a “he said/no I didn’t” dispute. That is where one of my children shows up in a huff to wherever I am and reports what “he said”, he meaning another one of my children. Then in the background I’ll hear the other one say either the “no I didn’t’ or the “but that’s because he said” response. And both kids look at me and expect the impartial judge (a.k.a. me) to do something. Each of them will give the impression of complete honesty and full recollection, yet they cannot agree about what happened or about what the other said.

My preference is to make them work it out. Still, I can’t help but wish that I could have recorded what actually happened so that if one of them is being a poop I can apply fair discipline. It would be really nice to attach a recording device to each of my children 24/7 to see what really happens. Would that be considered cruel or responsible parenting? Probably depends on whether you are the parent or child.

At Cimetrix, we deal with similar situations working with SECS/GEM communication. Sometimes either the host or equipment reports a problem. The host software says “the equipment said” and the equipment software says “but the host said”. And both look to an expert like me and want a resolution.

Often the best way to resolve the problem is to look at communication log files. Often enough when such problems occur the first time, neither the host nor the equipment was logging the SECS/GEM communication. Sometimes turning on communication logging in the host or equipment is more difficult than it should be. In a few cases, the host or equipment logging might not be trustworthy. The best solution is an impartial judge that records what both the host and equipment are saying so as to not rely on the host or equipment software.

But can that be done? The answer is yes. There is a free product called WireShark available on the internet at http://www.wireshark.org/. It is a network protocol analyzer, also called a “network sniffer”. It is really cool because it can capture all messages sent by the host and by the equipment without any modification to the host or equipment. Just configure it and run the problem scenario again.

Only it is not quite that easy. One problem is that WireShark does not have a plug-in to interpret the binary SECS/GEM message format (HSMS). If you are a SECS/GEM/HSMS guru that can readily and quickly interpret SECS/GEM messages in hexadecimal format, then this is a minor inconvenience. But for most of us that are too busy for such a tedious task, this is a major problem that makes WireShark impractical.

Fortunately, Cimetrix has a new product to resolve this, CIMSniffer. Under the hood, it uses the same network capturing libraries as WireShark, yet it has the capability to convert the messages into human readable SML formatted messages. You don’t have to wonder exactly what “the equipment said” or what “the host said”. You can record what they said yourself using a third-party software application. I wish I had this years ago. Too bad it won’t work with my kids.

For more information regarding the CIMSniffer product, please email sales@cimetrix.com.

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Topics: SECS/GEM