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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Recent Posts

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 Standards, 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 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

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Topics: SECS/GEM