Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

Meet the CCF Services Team - Khoi Ha

Posted by Cimetrix on Sep 2, 2020 10:45:00 AM

Headshot-Khoi-Ha-CimetrixMeet Khoi Ha, CCF Services Software Engineer at Cimetrix. Read on to learn a little bit more about Khoi.

How long have you worked at Cimetrix?

I've been at Cimetrix for almost 10 years now (November 2020)!

When did you graduate and what degree did you get?

I graduated from Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal in Montreal Canada in 1990. My degree was in Electrical Engineering.

What drew you to Cimetrix originally?

One of my previous semiconductor companies which I worked for used the Cimetrix CIM300 product so I knew about Cimetrix before I came here. But I was spotted and hired by a previous Director of Engineering.

What is your role at Cimetrix currently?

I am a Software Engineer in the CCF Services Team. 

What do you think it means to a client to have a great CCF services team?

As an engineer for the Services team, we go through the customer requirements and then we must understand and come up with strategies to tackle them. We break the requirements into work items and implement or resolve them one by one. We go through many scenarios of tests for the implemented features. We then consult back with the customers once the features have been implemented correctly and as intended. We make sure that the customer is satisfied with every implementation, and we make sure to deliver on time. In our spare time, we either enhance our documentation or create product trainings.

What do you like best about the work you do right now?

I enjoy helping our customers to be successful by assisting them in building their systems effeciently and on time. 

During my years at Cimetrix, I have been part of different departments (Services, Engineering and Support).  I was involved with CIMConnect, CIM300 and especially in CCF product development.  This extensive product knowledge has helped me tackle challenges when I'm called on to integrate our software with customers equipment.  

What do you like best about working at Cimetrix?

Cimetrix is like a family company. I always feel that people are here to help each other build great products and offer our clients valuable solutions. Every time I've had a challenge getting something done, I was able to rely on other product experts and engineers to help me with the issue and resolve it in a timely way.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

Hawaii or Bora Bora (Well I've never actually been to Bora Bora, but I'm crossing my fingers that one day the company might send me there!)

What do you like to do in your free time?

I am learning to play my guitar, and I always like to play around with my gadgets.

Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Company Culture, Meet Our Team

Meet the CCF Services Team - Harry Aldrich

Posted by Cimetrix on Aug 26, 2020 9:00:00 AM

Headshot-Harry-AldrichMeet Harry Aldrich, CCF Services Software Engineer at Cimetrix. Read on to learn a little bit more about Harry.

How long have you worked at Cimetrix?

I've been at Cimetrix for just over a year now and I work from Camden, Maine.

When did you graduate and what degree did you get?

I graduated with a BA in Physics from Gordon College in Massachusetts.

What drew you to Cimetrix originally?

I have actually been a happy customer of Cimetrix for close to 15 years, and I enjoyed working with the products and team. I'm excited to now be a part of this company.

What is your role at Cimetrix currently?

I am a Software Engineer on the CCF Services Team.

What do you think it means to a client to have a great CCF services team?

Cimetrix makes great products that are foundational to the successful implementation of equipment for today's factories. Having robust products to rely on is great, and having a company that stands behind those products is even better. 

I have benefited greatly from the experts at Cimetrix in Services and Solutions who have "been there and done that", both from their knowledge of the standards to their expertise in the products that implement them.

What do you like best about the work you do at Cimetrix?

I value the opportunity to work with a number of different customers on a variety of equipment that present new and interesting challenges.

What is something you’ve learned while working at Cimetrix?

I have learned the importance of continuing to learn all the time.

What is one of the hardest challenges you’ve been faced with at Cimetrix and how did you overcome the challenge?

Learning a new platform (CCF) as part of a new team (CCF Services) with new responsibilities are among the challenges I've faced. I think teamwork and coaching have been the most significant things in dealing with these challenges. 

What is your favorite vacation spot?

Tirol, Austria

What do you like to do in your free time?

I am an avid golfer and a big sports fan.

Topics: Doing Business with Cimetrix, Cimetrix Company Culture, Meet Our Team

Building a Panel Tool for a Customer using CCF

Posted by Rich Kingsford; Project Manager, CCF Services on Aug 20, 2020 11:38:00 AM

Hi folks! We in the CCF (CIMControlFramework) Services Team love training/consulting on CCF implementations and building custom software for our customers. We’re especially thrilled when we can help our customers ship new equipment and subsequently hear that the equipment successfully ran thousands millions of cycles without issues.

Recently, we enjoyed helping one of our customers build a tool that processes non-wafer substrates. The tool control system included some typical components such as Rorze Hardware Drivers, Light Tower drivers, and a Load Port E84 IO Control, but had some more unique capabilities as well. In this posting we will explore some of the challenges posed and advantages realized from these special capabilities. Before we dive in, please allow me to give a shout out to John Last, our Senior Software Engineer who designed and built most of these capabilities.

Building-panel-tool-1

Process Module Operation Screen

Rather than simply logging data points, our customer wanted a visual representation of temperature over time (minutes). We displayed the categorized variables and their values in tables as well, but the graph updating in real time made it much easier for the operator to visualize the patterns and identify risk events and their sources. The graphing feature needed to be active whether or not the process module operation screen was being displayed. Moreover, It had to handle 3 different step types (Ramp, Dwell and Cool).

Calculating the Y-Axis range for this display presented an additional interesting challenge. The minimum and maximum values were determined by searching all recipe steps and selecting the lowest and highest value setpoints, then subtracting a fixed number from the lowest to get the Y-Axis minimum value and adding a fixed number to the highest value to get the Y-Axis maximum value. The figure below shows how the expected process data should look compared to the observed process data. This allows the operator to see what the equipment is expected to do compared with its actual behavior.

Building-panel-tool-2

Partial FOUP grouping to create a single batch

Our customer required the capability to group multiple partial FOUPs into a single batch. This is especially useful in scenarios where partially filled FOUPs would be used—say, in R&D environments. In other words, we needed to support scenarios where the number of FOUPs needed for processing a batch exceeded the number of load ports. This required us to create Control Jobs with a MtrlOutSpec containing a valid SourceMap with an empty DestinationMap. We relied on SEMI E94’s concept of “Late Announcement of Output FOUP” to specify the input FOUP but not the output FOUP. This allows the scheduler to say, “We know the substrate will go to a different slot, but we won’t tell you which slot until later.”

E90 substrate reading in the Panel solution

As with most tools, each of the substrates has an ID, and this ID must be read and reported to the host. In this case, our host had to verify that the expected ID matched the actual ID. On a successful match, the equipment would then continue the job. If it failed, however, the host would be notified and decide whether to proceed or change something. Capabilities like these maximize throughput and mitigate risks to equipment safety side and production scrap.

Different Panel Types

This machine was required to deal with panels having multiple thicknesses and possible warpage. Therefore we needed to provide a method for an operator, the recipe, and the host to specify the panel type to be processed. None of the variations of panel types were known ahead of time, so we needed methods that handled additional panel types without having to make code changes after the equipment was deployed in production.

The tool also required different substrate mapping parameters for each panel type. Because panel type was specified in the process program referenced in the Process Job, the panel type was not known when the FOUP arrived at the load port. To handle this situation, we customized a standard factory automation SECS II message to communicate the panel type from the host to the tool on arrival of the FOUP.

Conclusion

This equipment was built on an extremely aggressive timeline by a very small team. I was particularly impressed by the team’s ability to grasp the end customer’s requests and creatively explore alternative ways to solve the never-before-seen challenges. In summary: no drama; a few delays; even fewer verbal altercations; just a little frustration; only a little scope creep; and most important, a satisfied factory customer. We all cheered when our customer shipped the tool in 2020.

To find out more about CIMControlFramework and our CCF Services team, or to contact us for a demo, click the button below.

Contact Us

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

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

Cimetrix welcomes Thomas Simon as Director of Sales of Cimetrix Europe!

Posted by Cimetrix on Jul 30, 2020 8:00:00 AM

MicrosoftTeams-image (21)Cimetrix is pleased to announce and welcome Thomas Simon as its Director of Sales of Cimetrix Europe and Managing Director of Cimetrix GmbH. Thomas is based in Munich, Germany and will lead our growth in Europe. Thomas Simon will be responsible for ensuring the success of our growing customer base of leading semiconductor equipment manufacturers and smart manufacturing factories in Europe, providing strategic direction for Cimetrix Europe to have long-term success in the European market, overseeing local sales and account management and leading an expert team of Europe-based software engineers.

Thomas earned a Master of Science in Electronics and Semiconductor Technology and has 29 years of experience in the semiconductor, semiconductor backend, and electronics industries. He started his career as a field service engineer and then field service management working for companies such as Robert Bosch, SPTS (KLA), Centrotherm, UNAXIS (Evatec) and Suss MicroTec. Since 2011, Thomas has worked for Ulvac as Director of Sales and Business Development.

“Cimetrix has been serving European customers in the semiconductor and electronics markets for over 20 years. We have worked hard to gain a reputation for high quality products that are backed by responsive and exceptional technical support. Today, this provides us with a solid foundation of many longtime customers willing to serve as enthusiastic references. We also see strong and growing demand for Industrie 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing solutions. Accordingly, Cimetrix made the strategic decision to hire an experienced professional to lead Cimetrix’s business in Europe. We are very fortunate to have found Thomas Simon, as his vast experience in the semiconductor and electronics industries is a great fit with Cimetrix. We look forward to growing the Cimetrix team in Europe to provide even higher levels of support to our European customers.” 

-Bob Reback, President and CEO

Cimetrix has been building international teams throughout the world to provide our clients with technical experts who work in their local time zones, speak their native languages, and understand their unique cultures. In all of the major regions for semiconductor and electronics manufacturing, we now have an experienced executive who serves as that region’s Managing Director and is able to help our customers be successful and receive the highest levels of technical support.

To contact Thomas, please click the button below. Welcome Thomas!

Contact

 

Topics: Industry Highlights, Customer Support, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Meet Our Team

Cimetrix 2020 Annual Shareholder Meeting is Postponed

Posted by Bob Reback: Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer on Jul 29, 2020 10:23:25 AM

To our Cimetrix shareholders,

One of the highlights of the year is the annual Cimetrix shareholder meeting, which is typically held in August at the Company’s headquarters office in Salt Lake City. We always enjoy the gathering of shareholders and reporting on the Company’s progress. The 2020 annual meeting has been on the calendar for Friday, August 14, and our hope was things would be back to normal by that time. Unfortunately, there has been a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Utah, and we believe it would not be prudent to host the annual shareholder meeting at this time. Our number one concern is the safety of our shareholders and employees. Consequently, the Cimetrix 2020 annual meeting is officially postponed until further notice.

While the Company’s business has been impacted by COVID-19, we have transitioned to enable all employees to work from home. Demand within the semiconductor and electronics industries remains strong for our products, and we believe we are on track to meet our overall 2020 plans. Cimetrix has retained all of its valuable employees and is in the process of recruiting additional team members.

Once we set a new date for the annual shareholder meeting, we will report it on our website and send out another notice to shareholders. We thank our shareholders for their concerns and support.

Sincerely,

Bob Reback
President and Chief Executive Officer

For future updates and investor information, please visit our Investor Relations Page.

Topics: Industry Highlights, Doing Business with Cimetrix

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

SEMICON China 2020 Pressed Forward Successfully

Posted by Lewis Liu on Jul 15, 2020 11:45:00 AM

Read the Post-show report of the SEMICON China 2019 show today. Read it now in Chinese or below in English.

semicon-china-2020-image  一年一度为期3天的半导体盛会SEMICON China 2020于6月27-29在上海新国际博览中心顺利举行并落下帷幕。展会汇集了业内八百余展商,一起交流探讨,共享半导体行业技术和市场动向。此次盛会是后疫情期电子半导体行业的首展。由于疫情,暴雨和端午佳节诸多因素影响, 参加人数比往年有所减少,但是在如此艰难的情况下,半导体人还能克服困难,聚集在此举办盛会,已经算是非常成功!2020年恰巧是SEMI国际半导体产业协会的50岁生日,这也给此次聚会赋予了特殊的意义!
作为SEMI国际半导体产业协会最紧密并且历史最悠久的合作方之一,矽美科一如既往的参加了此次展会。在中国区技术负责人刘波和黄玉峰的主持下,我们展示了矽美科行业领先的符合SECS/GEM, GEM300, EDA/Interface A等SEMI标准的互联软件产品。 我们不仅见到了一批老朋友,也相识了 一批新朋友,大家一起交流市场和技术信息,畅谈合作共赢机会!

SEMICON-China-pic1


展会期间,我们也预定了SEMICON CHINA 2021的展位。我们将和SEMI及所有半导体人一起长期坚持不懈的耕耘在这个伟大的行业,希望能为中国乃至全球电子半导体行业做出力所能及的贡献!我们明年再会!

要了解更多关于Cimetrix产品和服务的信息,您可以随时安排会议。

Schedule a Meeting


semicon-china-2020-imageThe annual three-day SEMICON China 2020 event, originally scheduled for March, was successfully held at the Shanghai New International Expo Center June 27-29, 2020. Despite the lack of international travelers, the exhibition brought together more than 800 exhibitors who exchanged, discussed, and shared semiconductor industry technology and market trends. This event was the first exhibition of the electronic and semiconductor industries in the COVID-19 period. Due not only to the pandemic but also other factors such as bad weather and the Dragon Boat Festival, there were fewer participants than in previous years. However, given these circumstances, our industry in China overcame the difficulties and gathered in Shanghai to celebrate the 50th birthday of the SEMI organization—this gave the show an extra special meaning!

SEMICON-China-pic1As a longstanding member and collaborative partner of SEMI, Cimetrix has now participated in this exhibition for several years. With the support of Clare Liu and Yufeng Huang, the company’s principal technologists in China, Cimetrix showed its industry-leading connectivity software products that meet GEM, GEM300, EDA/Interface A and other SEMI standards. We not only spent time with old friends, clients and colleagues, but also met many new people that represent an opportunity to learn and grow. 

Finally, during the exhibition, we booked the booth space for SEMICON CHINA 2021. We are excited to support and participate in the Chinese semiconductor manufacturing industry, to anticipate where the industry is headed, and to work together in meeting the future challenges head on.

To learn more about Cimetrix products and services, you can schedule a meeting any time.

Schedule a Meeting

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

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!

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