by Derek Lindsey,
Principal Software Engineer
When creating new tools for use in the semiconductor industry, most original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) prefer to concentrate on their area of expertise – the processing of wafers. The bother for them is that they have to conform to material handling standards to get the wafers delivered to the correct process module before they can perform process on the wafers. They also have other overhead that takes time and resources away from what they do best. This overhead includes operator interfaces, recipe management, error handling and the list goes on.
With CIMControlFramework™ we set out to create a flexible equipment automation framework that handles much of the overhead associated with wafer processing. This allows OEMs to spend more time on perfecting their processing while still creating a first class application to drive the tool. The framework includes packages for performing recipe management, alarm management, user management, configuration management, message logging, scheduling, factory automation, user interface and material handling.
Data generated at any point on the tool from any of these packages can be quickly and easily accessed by any other module or external application. This is where Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) enters the picture. To paraphrase Reggie Jackson, WCF is the straw that stirs the drink. It allows access to all of the functionality provided in these packages. Cimetrix chose to use WCF for distributing the functionality contained in each of these packages. WCF is as easy as ABC. In order to use WCF services, we need three pieces of information: an Address, a Binding and a Contract (A, B, C).
Each of the packages listed above provides a service with functionality for clients to access. The functionality provided by the service is the contract. An address is where the service is located. A binding is how the client talks to the service (what protocol is used.) These three pieces of information are called an Endpoint. Once a client application knows the endpoint, it can access the vast array of functionality provided by the CIMControlFramework service packages.
Once an OEM taps into CIMControlFramework, they can focus their resources on process technology and product differentiation.