Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

David Francis: Director of Product Management

David Francis has worked in the semiconductor industry for more than 26 years providing software and services in manufacturing automation. He has experience providing control software for automated material handling systems, scheduling and dispatching systems, SECS/GEM and EDA communications, and equipment control. Francis has lead teams to effectively use software development practices such as CMM/SEI and Agile.
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Recent Posts

GEM: Meeting Future Needs by Building on the Stability of the Past

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on Jan 8, 2020 11:00:00 AM

Mechanic-working-on-a-diesel-filter-close-up-629x419-CopyAs a young boy, I liked to work on the family car with my dad. He taught me how to change the oil, check the spark plugs, replace the shock absorbers, adjust the timing and lots of other tasks that were common on older cars. I remember the first time he let me use the socket wrench. I thought it was the greatest tool ever invented. I could loosen bolts, then moving a small switch into a different position, the same wrench could now tighten bolts. It is a very versatile tool, one I still make sure to have handy to this day. 

I appreciate having well-designed tools available that can be used in a variety of situations. In my career, these tools have sometimes been software tools. I have spent a lot of my career working with equipment connectivity standards and seeing the benefits of having process equipment connected to a factory control system. Whether it is for full equipment control, or just to monitor and gather data from the equipment, having a robust connection to equipment is valuable.  

When I first started connecting equipment to factory control systems, the GEM standard had not been finalized. There was a lot of variability in the SECS message implementations available from the different equipment vendors. I was almost always able to get the equipment connected to the factory system, but generally each connection was custom to that equipment vendor and equipment type. This meant that each connection took far too much time to complete and made supporting different equipment very difficult. 

Once the GEM standards were finalized and adopted, there was now a versatile way to provide consistency and reusability across equipment types and across equipment vendors. Connecting to different types of equipment was principally a configuration task instead of a custom coding task.  

In addition, industry standard compliance test tools were developed to ensure compliance with the GEM standards and harden the implementations for reliable production use. This increased reliability helped drive the adoption and implementation of GEM in the global semiconductor front-end manufacturing industry. As a result, GEM has become a well-established reliable communication standard that is widely used and accepted.  

As other segments of the semiconductor and related electronics manufacturing markets have looked to connect equipment to their factory control systems, many have evaluated GEM and other communication standards to provide this functionality. In some cases, GEM was considered too old, too complex, or not a good fit. But, like the versatile socket wrench, many industry segments have seen the value of the stability and proven nature of GEM. They found that the socket wrench (GEM) was the right toolthey just needed a different sized socket (industry-specific guidance) to fit their needs. Let’s look at a few examples.  

SEMI PV2 

large solar farm in England producing electricityIn 2007, when the photovoltaic industry wanted to increase manufacturing efficiencies and reduce costs, they looked to implement industry-wide standards. They formed the Photovoltaic Equipment Interface Specification Task Force to define the interface between the factory control system and the equipment. 

The task force created two working sub-teams to evaluate existing solutions and the requirements of the industry. Several existing solutions such as SECS/GEM, EDA, OPC-UA, and XML were evaluated based on functionality, reliability, extendibility, and the ability to be integrated into different environments. The conclusion of both teams was to build on the SEMI GEM (E30) standard.  

The socket wrench (GEM) was the right tool, and a new socket (SEMI PV2) provided the required fit for their equipment and industry. 

HB-LED 

In 2010, when the high-brightness light-emitting diode (HB-LED) industry started their search for connectivity standards. They needed something that would allow low-cost, common hardware and software interfaces, and other means to enable HB-LED factories to effectively utilize multiple equipment types from multiple vendors in a highly automated manufacturing environment. 

This search found that the best course was to leverage the functionality, reliability, and extendibility of GEM. The SEMI HB4: Specification of Communication Interfaces for High-Brightness LED Manufacturing Equipment (HB-LED ECI) defines the behavior of HB-LED equipment and is based on the SEMI E30 (GEM) standard.  

Again, the socket wrench (GEM) was the right tool. What they needed was a socket (HB4) that would meet the needs of their industry. 

PCBECI 

In February 2019, the Taiwan Printed Circuit Association (TPCA) initiated an activity seeking to boost network connectivity of PCB equipment and help PCB makers implement smart manufacturing practices in the industry.  

The result of this effort was the publication in August of 2019 of the SEMI A3: Specification for Printed Circuit Board Equipment Communication Interfaces (PCBECI). This is a robust and comprehensive shop-floor communication standard that specifies the detailed, bidirectional communications needed to improve productivity and reduce the costs to develop equipment interfaces for PCB manufacturing. The SEMI A3 (PCBECI) standard is based on the SEMI E30 (GEM) standard. 

Yet again, the socket wrench (GEM) was the right tool and all that was needed was a socket for their specific needs (PCBECI).  

It is understandable to think of GEM as an old and complex standard. It has been around for years and can be difficult to understand. However, it has continued to be reviewed and updated as manufacturing needs have changed. As different market segments have looked for equipment communication standards to meet their specific needs, several have found that the functionality, reliability, extendibility and the ability to be integrated into different environments provided by GEM was the right tool. All that was needed were some companion specifications related to GEM to provide a better fit for their requirements. 

Topics: Industry Standards, SECS/GEM, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on Nov 13, 2019 7:45:00 AM

In the early 1990’s I worked with companies like Motorola, Wacker Siltronics, and AT&T to characterize the SEMI Equipment Communication Standards (SECS) interface on the equipment. It was early in the process of connecting process and metrology equipment to a factory control system (Manufacturing Execution System – MES), in the days before the leading chip makers at that time got together to define the Generic Equipment Model (GEM), which was eventually balloted as SEMI E30.

It was a fun and exciting time as process owners began to see the power and benefit of having an automated interface to the equipment. The first project I worked on was collecting critical dimension (CD) data from a microscope following a lithography process step. Previously the operators would manually enter 6 measurement data points to 8-digit precision. This was a very error-prone process, and each time a mistake was made, lots were put on hold until the problem was diagnosed. This affected not only the throughput of the lithography area, but also the overall fab, since the litho tools are invariably the bottleneck. The automated interface eliminated this problem because process engineers knew that any lot holds were due to real process errors rather than operator input errors.

Moving the automated interface to the process equipment was a little more difficult. An automated interface on a metrology tool cannot cause misprocessing, but an automated interface on a process tool was a little riskier. We decided that the first step would be to simply verify that the correct recipe was selected, and not allow processing to proceed until it was reviewed by the process Engineer assigned to that equipment. Within a few minutes of going live with the first automated interface for a process equipment, a mismatch was detected between the operator-selected recipe and the recipe specified in the MES. A quick check by the process engineer verified that the technician had indeed selected the wrong recipe—this simple check alone saved misprocessing the entire carrier of material.Prod20191

From these humble beginnings, full factory automation in front end 300mm fabs was adopted quickly and revolutionized semiconductor manufacturing. The level of automation in other areas of the semiconductor and electronics assembly industries is now increasing dramatically, motivated by the prospect of improved factory throughput and higher yields. Moreover, the experience gained through implementation of automated interfaces using SEMI communication standards will be a great benefit to semiconductor backend and electronics assembly markets. Some of the standards used in 300mm automation have already been modified for this purpose, and new standards are in work to better serve these industries.Prod20192

SMT-ELS-Equipment-link-standard

In September 2019, SEMI published the PCBECI (Printed Circuit Board Equipment Communications Interface) standard, officially designated SEMI A3. This standard is a simplification of the reliable and much-used GEM equipment communication standard.

Early in 2019 the SMT-ELS (Surface Mount Technology Equipment Link Standard) suite, designated SEMI A1, A1.1, and A2, was also published. These standards address the need for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications to support flow manufacturing processes. The adoption process for these new standards has just begun, but like the early adoption of the SECS and GEM standards, it is exciting times and good things are happening. 

Visit us as Productronica (Hall A3 Booth 421) or SEMICON Europa (Hall B1 Booth 525) to hear more about these new standards and the products Cimetrix has developed to support their implementation and validation in equipment and factories. Or you can get in touch with a standards expert any time by clicking the link below. 

Ask an Expert

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

Do you need help with GEM Testing?

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on May 22, 2019 11:21:00 AM

A few years ago, I went through the process of building a new house. It was exciting to work with the architect to design the house and imagine what the finished product was going to be like. The architect created a 40-page set of drawings detailing all the components that would go into the house, like the electrical, plumbing and flooring. I thought everything was covered. I was a little surprised when things didn’t go exactly as detailed in the drawings. There were exceptions! However, having the detailed drawings made it easier to identify where things went wrong and helped clarify what needed to be done to correct the problems.EquipmentTest-Software-Control

Communication standards like GEM are like a set of architectural drawings for how to connect equipment to factory control systems. They define what needs to be communicated, how the communication needs to take place and provide a great roadmap for getting there. But like building a new house, there are usually a few surprises along the way. A standard, consistent way of testing the interface that can be used by both the factory and equipment manufacturer, greatly reduces the unknown and simplifies the process.

The new Cimetrix EquipmentTest™ product is the fastest way to achieve GEM Compliance for factory acceptance testing of new equipment. Whether you are an equipment manufacturer or factory, making sure the equipment interface is GEM compliant is critical. Having an easy-to-use testing solution to determine if the equipment is GEM compliant is critical.

There are two versions of EquipmentTest depending on your needs. The EqupmentTest Basic version is ideal for both Smart factories and equipment manufacturers to quickly and easily test the basic capabilities of an equipment’s GEM interface. EquipmentTest Basic includes a simple testing scenario, called a plugin, to evaluate the equipment’s ability to connect to a GEM host and communicate events, data and alarms. This version also includes the ability to send/receive individual messages to/from the equipment for discovery or diagnostic purposes. With the messaging functionality, you can also create macros to send and receive groups of messages.

For more complex testing, there is the EquipmentTest Pro version. In addition to all the features of the EquipmentTest Basic version, EquipmentTest Pro includes a full, rigorous GEM compliance testing plug-in and an operational GEM compliance testing plugin. The Pro version includes development tools to allow you to create your own custom tests/plug-ins using .NET languages. The GEM compliance plugin generates a GEM compliance statement that shows the areas and level of compliance to the GEM standards. There are also other tools only available in the EquipmentTest Pro version that allow you easily test and interact with the GEM functionality on the equipment.

As with all our products, Cimetrix supports the industry connectivity standards so you never have to wonder if your equipment is keeping up with the rest of the industry.

You can purchase either version of EquipmentTest directly from our website and download the software immediately. You will need to provide a valid Mac ID and email address for licensing purposes. You will receive your license agreement no more than 48 hours after purchase. Be sure to learn more and get your EquipmentTest download today!

Buy EquipmentTest Today

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

SECS/GEM Series: User Interface

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on May 23, 2018 11:04:00 AM

secs/gem user interfaceI remember as a new Boy Scout, we planned a hiking trip up into a primitive area in the mountains near my home. One of the first things we learned about reading a map was where to find the legend. The map legend contains important information needed to read a map, like indicating which direction is north. Now that we knew where to find the legend, we could orient the map so it made sense as we were planning our hike.

Most equipment in a typical semiconductor or electronics assembly factory has a user interface that contains a lot of information about the equipment. Most equipment also contains many screens that are used for controlling or operating the equipment. With the use of GEM, a factory host system can control the equipment and collect important data generated during processing.

Like a map, there is a lot of information available on the user interface of a piece of equipment. It can sometimes be difficult to know where to find the important information the host system needs to properly control and communicate with the equipment. The GEM standards provide guidelines on how critical items on the equipment user interface should be presented and controlled. For example, if the host sends information to the equipment operator about tasks they need to perform, the GEM terminal message guidelines state that the information must remain on the user interface of the equipment until the operator acknowledges that they have read it.

The SEMI E30 standard defines the Specification for the Generic Model for Communications and Control of Manufacturing Equipment (GEM). In addition to providing the definition of the common set of equipment behavior and communication capabilities required for manufacturing automation, the standard also provides requirements on which items must be present on an equipment user interface and how they should be represented. User interface requirements spelled out by the standard address communication state, terminal service new message indicator, terminal services message recognition button, communications state default and communications state selector.

This may seem like a small thing, but just like knowing where to find the legend on a map enabled understanding of the lines and symbols on the map, so too the GEM standards can help provide an understanding of information presented on an equipment interface that is essential for communication with a factory host system.

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

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

SECS/GEM White Paper

Topics: SECS/GEM, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, SECS/GEM Features & Benefits Series

SECS/GEM Series: Alarms

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on Feb 14, 2018 10:30:00 AM

Previous posts have talked about functionality that allows data to be collected through the GEM interface so the factory applications described in the most recent post can analyze this data. With this posting, we return to a discussion of specific features and capabilities of the SEMI E30 GEM (Generic Equipment Model) standard, specifically the management of error conditions on the equipment.

In a perfect world everything goes according to plan, but in reality, things always go wrong. The secret to success is being able to know when something goes wrong, and then responding appropriately.

Minion_alarm.pngJust like a home alarm system, semiconductor fabs want to know when something bad has happened. They want to prevent the material being processed from being scrapped. Alarm management enables the equipment to notify the host when something goes wrong, and provide information about what has gone wrong. The GEM standard defines Alarm Management as the capability to provide host notification and management of alarm conditions occurring on the equipment. 

In GEM, an alarm is any abnormal situation on the equipment that may endanger people, equipment, or material being processed. For example, if a technician opens an access panel to replace a component, the equipment should send an alarm notifying the host that it is not safe to operate the equipment in its current condition. Another example might be if an equipment requires a high temperature for processing but a sensor detects a low temperature condition, it should trigger an alarm, since running the process under those conditions could damage the material being processed. It is also the responsibility of the equipment manufacturer to inhibit unsafe activities on the equipment when an alarm condition is present. The equipment manufacturer knows best what specific alarms are required on the equipment to ensure safety for people, equipment and material.

Often it is useful to have more information about the conditions in the equipment at the time an alarmflashing-red-light-1.png condition occurs. Communicating that additional information to the host is valuable, but cannot be done through the normal Alarm Report Send/Acknowledge messages. To provide a way to get this additional information, GEM requires that two collection events be defined for each possible alarm condition on the equipment – one event for when the alarm is set, and another for when the alarm is cleared. These collection events allow the GEM event data collection mechanisms to be used to send the additional related information to the host when an alarm changes state.

In addition to providing the time of an alarm state change, Alarm Management on the equipment must allow the Host to request a list of all alarm IDs and associated alarm text. The host must also be able to enable/disable individual alarms on the equipment, and query the equipment for the list of alarms that are currently enabled for reporting.

The state diagram for an Alarm is not very exciting, but it fills a vital need. The picture below illustrates the Alarm State diagram:

on-off-switch.jpg

GEM alarms only have 2 states: each alarm is either SET or CLEAR. It’s simple but effective.

Alarm Management isn’t rocket science, but through effective use of Alarm Management, fabs can carefully monitor the health of their process equipment and minimize negative impacts to their production yield. 

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

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

SECS/GEM White Paper

Topics: Industry Standards, SECS/GEM, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, SECS/GEM Features & Benefits Series

Leveraging GEM

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on Nov 28, 2016 11:30:00 AM

One of my favorite gifts when I was a kid was an erector set. I could build all kinds of machines and robots. The set I had even included a simple motor, so I could make things move. I spent a lot of hours building machines and robots and dreaming of doing that on a bigger scale.

When I graduated from college I worked for a small company that did warehouse automation and automated transport control systems. It took me back to when I was a boy building robots with my erector set. Except these robots could actually move things and had a full set of commands to control them, not just on or off. The company I worked for had a small group that did firmware programming for the robotic controllers. I worked in the software group that wrote the software systems for controlling the whole automated warehouse. I soon learned that each type of automated equipment had its unique set of commands and that just because two pieces of equipment might perform the same function, didn’t mean they used the same commands.

Along the way I had the opportunity to work with Motorola to develop cell controllers for one of their new, state-of-the-art fabrication facilities in Austin, Texas. This opened up a new world of automation for me. The SEMI Equipment Communication Standards (SECS) were fairly new and still trying to gain wide acceptance. There were a lot of similarities to the automated material handling equipment I had been working with. Each piece of equipment had a defined set of SECS messages it supported, but each tool had to be carefully characterized in order to know how to create the cell control application that would interface with it. It was exciting to bring new tools on line and see the benefits in reduced scrap and improved throughput. But it took a lot of time to develop the cell controllers and there wasn’t much code that could be reused from one to the next.

During this time, I had the opportunity to attend some SEMI standards meetings and participate in discussions about the development of a Generic Equipment Model (GEM) to achieve more consistency across different companies’ SECS interface implementations. It made so much sense! I had built a good business doing equipment characterizations for semiconductor manufacturing companies, but it seemed like there should be a better way of interfacing with the equipment – a more standard way. As the adoption of GEM grew in the semiconductor manufacturing industry, the cost of developing equipment cell control applications decreased. Much of the code could be used across different pieces of equipment, because there was a standard for interfacing with all equipment.

While GEM was developed by and for the semiconductor industry, it could also benefit many other industries. GEM provides a standard way to control a factory and gather equipment and process data that can be used to measure and monitor Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), implement Statistical Process Control (SPC), manage material queues and WIP levels, and a wide range of additional factory applications. Several parallel markets (PV, LED) have adopted the GEM standard to take advantage of commonality required by the standard. Other markets would also benefit by adopting the GEM standard to help increase software reuse and productivity

 

Topics: SECS/GEM

Learning from Others

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on May 10, 2016 2:37:12 PM
blueprint.jpg

Almost everyone I know that has built a house has given me a list of things they would “do differently next time,” but a lot of those same people would also say that they would never build again. So does that mean everything they learned through the process is lost? Is it possible to get it right the first time? Maybe not, but there are a lot of things you can do to learn from the experience of others. For example, you can buy house plans that have been used before and are designed to leverage standard components. Rather than designing and building everything from scratch, you can use pre-built sub systems like fabricated floor joists and manufactured roof trusses. Using proven components saves a lot of time and worry about whether or not they will work properly and as expected. This allows you to focus on the customizations that will make the home meet your unique needs.

Implementing an equipment control application is a lot like building a house. You can design and build a complete control system from the bottom up—building all the components necessary to handle communication with the hardware, display information to the operators, manage user access, log relevant event and data information—but it doesn’t add value to the core competency of your equipment. The best option is to leverage proven design that has been built through multiple prior applications and leverages those lessons learned along the way.

Cimetrix's CIMControlFramework provides all the standard components necessary to build an equipment control application. With working samples for both atmospheric and vacuum equipment, it can easily be customized and extended as needed to meet specific control needs.

There is an old saying that goes, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

If you would like to learn more about CIMControlFramework and how it can help you on your next project, give us a call or feel free to contact us here.

To learn more about CCF, visit the CIMControlFramework page on our website!

Topics: Equipment Control-Software Products, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Products

Choice is Good!

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on Mar 30, 2016 1:00:00 PM

grass.png

The snow on the north side of my house finally melted the other day. That is a sure indication that spring is coming. I don’t have anything against winter, but I do love spring — except that it means a lot of yard work. One of the first tasks is to get some fertilizer down so the grass will be green and healthy during the summer months. So I went to the store to get some fertilizer and couldn’t believe all the choices. There are fertilizers for pre-emergent control, organic fertilizers, granular, liquids, and the list goes on. The nice thing about this is that you can choose the right fertilizer for your needs.

Advances in semiconductor manufacturing are now driving equipment OEMs to look at new ways to meet growing manufacturing requirements. Not all OEMs will have the same processing requirements. Some may have large data sets or image files they need to deal with. Others may not. For some, speed of execution may be very important, while it may not be for others.

Starting today Cimetrix makes available the new release of CIM300. For CIM300 customers that develop on 64-bit operating systems, you now have a choice to develop 32-bit applications or 64-bit applications. This allows greater flexibility in speed and memory use options when using CIM300. Choose your target when you compile your application, no coding changes are needed.

CIM300_Window.jpg

The new release of CIM300 also has fixes and enhancements requested by customers as well as updated support for the latest SEMI GEM300 standards. With this release, customers will continue to enjoy the reliability of CIM300 with new benefits. Under the hood, we have increased our GEM compliance testing to ensure that interfaces developed with CIM300 will pass factory acceptance testing.

One new feature in this version of CIM300 is a new utility that allows logging to be configured at runtime. The CIM300 Settings utility works with the CIMConnect logging package. CIMConnect logging can also be configured through this utility.

So CIM300 customers, exercise your option to enjoy added flexibility and new features combined with the same reliability you expect from Cimetrix products.

Topics: Cimetrix Products

When Should I Upgrade My Cimetrix Product?

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on Feb 11, 2016 3:39:46 PM

phone-evolution.png

We live in a world where cell phone upgrades have become a way of life. Some people upgrade every time a new phone is available so that they can have the latest, greatest features and gadgets. Others prefer to keep their old phone since they are familiar with how it works and are satisfied with the phone’s functionality. While others still may upgrade because they have encountered a problem with their current phone that either can’t be fixed or has been addressed in the new model.

There are similar reasons to upgrade to a new version of a Cimetrix product. Here are a few sample questions that will help an OEM determine when is the best time to do so:

  1. Is there an issue my customers are currently facing that has been addressed in the new version of the product?

Cimetrix works to fix customer-reported issues as well as issues found during internal testing. It is not possible to make these fixes in all previously released versions of the product, so they are made as a fix in the latest released version of the product. Upgrading to the latest version benefits the OEMs by providing fixes to issues they may have reported or, more often, to issues they haven’t seen but have been reported by other OEMs.

  1. Are there added features or capabilities in the new version of the product that will improve my ability to support my customers and/or allow me to provide new functionality to my customers?

Cimetrix strives to support our customers by providing high-quality software products. As new technologies emerge and as scenarios in which our products are used evolve, we discover new ways to provide additional benefits to our OEM customers. These new capabilities are made available in new releases of our products. These improvements can include things like enhanced logging and diagnostic capabilities, new utilities for managing configuration files, or new screens for making setup easier.

  1. Am I planning a new release of my equipment control software?

Like Cimetrix, OEMs are continually looking for ways to improve their equipment and provide new features and functionality to their customers. This means that they will periodically release new versions of their equipment that may contain new hardware and/or software functionality. This is an ideal time for OEMs to also upgrade their Cimetrix software so that their new platform can take advantage of the latest fixes and enhancements that are available.

This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of questions to be asked/answered when determining the right time to upgrade to a new version of a Cimetrix product, but it does give you an indication of the type of things that should factor into your decision-making process. Each new software release has a set of Release Notes that describe the software fixes and new features that have been added in that release. These Release Notes are there to help you make the best determination as to when to upgrade, so be sure to read them carefully. And, as always, the Cimetrix Support team is available to answer any questions and provide additional information if you should need it.

Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Products

Software Versioning Help Sets Users' Expectations

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on Jan 14, 2016 1:02:00 PM

There are times in life when a surprise is a good thing. Like when you get a box of chocolates. We all remember the line from the movie Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” When you install a new version of software however, surprises aren’t as enjoyable. With a new software release, customers need to be able to assess the effort and impact the new release will have on their current systems and procedures. Then they can evaluate whether the new features and functionality will be worth the effort to deploy the new software release. One way software companies can help communicate the impact a new software release may have on customers is by using a clearly defined release versioning procedure.

Change is good and software products that grow and mature over time, adding new features and eliminating unwanted behaviors, can remain healthy and viable over a long period of time. However, consistency and predictability are also important characteristics of good software products. So how do software companies balance these two seemingly competitive objectives?

Itunes.pngsemantic-versioning.pngMany software companies can do this is through the way they use software versioning. It is common for software companies to use a major.minor.patch.build software versioning scheme, for example iTunes 12.3.1. This type of software versioning allows the software company to communicate the scale and impact of the changes in the release to their customers. A change in the “major” release number indicates to customers that there are some significant changes in this release that may impact the way it interacts with the product. The customer will likely need to make code changes or procedural changes when upgrading to such a release. A change to the “minor” release number denotes that there are multiple changes in the release, but customers should see only minor, or possibly no changes, in the way they use the product. A minor release may include some small new features that could potentially require code changes if the customers wants/needs those new features. A “patch” release is generally used to address a specific issue and should not change the customer experience with the software. The build number is most often provided to help the software company when researching a question or customer reported defect.

Software versioning provides a way to set expectations with the customer about what is in the release and how it might affect the way they use the product. It can help take the surprise out of the process of installing a new software release. Life may be “like a box of chocolates,” but software releases shouldn’t be.

If you would like to learn more about the semiconductor industry, software best practices, and other topics related to new technologies, please subscribe to our email updates using the form in the upper right corner of this page.

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