During the SEMICON West exhibition in San Francisco this past week (July 9-10), the North American Information & Control Committee and its Task Forces met to continue SEMI standards development. Here is a brief summary of the proceedings.
The GEM 300 task force, in addition to reapproving E90, also approved minor title changes to the E39, E39.1, E40 and E40.1 standards. Each SEMI standard must be revised or reapproved to avoid becoming inactive. A few years ago, SEMI changed regulations that mandate that each standard declare its classification, such as a “guide” or “specification”. Since then the task force has been slowly correcting the titles. The E37.1 standard is in the middle of such classification, but has been riddled with reapproval complications due to minor concerns and some needed corrections in the standard. The ballot to make these corrections, 6349, failed for the second time at SEMICON West. The ballot will be slightly reworked and resubmitted for another round of voting. Another ballot, 6348 proposed to clean up the GEM E30 standard, to improve its readability and to bring the standard in conformance with current SEMI regulations and its current style guide. The forefront of the discussions was surrounding the confusing use of acronyms DVNAME, DVVAL, SVV and other such acronyms where the meaning and use of the acronyms was confusing to new readers. The 6348 ballot also failed, but hopefully the task force is progressing towards reaching an agreement. One major challenge is that ballot 6348 is a major revision ballot, where the entire specification is opened up for review and scrutiny, as opposed to line item ballots where only specific sections of a standard are modified.
Finally, and most exciting is ballot 6114B; a revision to the SECS-II E5 standard. The ballot proposed a set of new messages for transferring any large items between a host and equipment. Typically, one item in a message is limited to about 16.7 MB. The new messages are specifically targeting the transfer of equipment recipes, but the messages are written generic enough so that anything else can be transferred, too. The new messages support two styles of item transfer. Either the item can be transmitted in a single message, or broken into parts for transfer with the expectation to be concatenated by the recipient. Or the item can be transmitted in multiple messages, broken into parts with each part sent in a separate message and the same expectation to be concatenated by the recipient. An item is identified by its “type”, “id” and “version”. The messages are intended to resolve current issues with recipes where some equipment suppliers are using recipes that surpass 16.7 MB. And the messages open the door to be used by other SEMI standards and to be customized for specific applications. After passing this ballot, the task force intends to make the messages part of the GEM standard. Even though the ballot 6348 failed, the task force seems to have finally reached consensus on the message formats and continues to work out minor details.
The DDA Task Force continues to work on the next version of the Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA) standards. In the latest cycle of voting, changes were proposed to E138 (ballot 6336), E134 (ballot 6335) and E132 (ballot 6337). Although one part of E134 passed, most of E134 failed and the other ballots failed. All of the failed ballots will be reworked and resubmitted for voting. Additionally, during the task force meeting additional proposed changes were reviewed and discussed. The task force continues to make plans to move from HTTP 1.1 and SOAP/XML to HTTP 2.0 and Protocol Buffers. Specifically, the plan is to recommend using gRPC. Testing done to date indicated an 18 times performance improvement and significant bandwidth reduction. The task force also discussed changes to simplify the equipment model metadata handling. Finally, Cimetrix proposed the implementation of a new method of data sampling designed for higher data collection frequencies. The current trace data collection messages, while very effective for speeds up to maybe 80 Hz, become inefficient when trying to collect data at even faster rates. The concept is called a “cached data sample” where the equipment collects the data at a specified frequency and then reports the data in an array syntax. When using HTTP 2.0 and Protocol Buffers, this will be an especially efficient format expected to allow much higher frequencies.
The client specifies the data collection frequency as well as the reporting frequency. For example, a client might specify a frequency of 10 kHz and a reporting frequency of 1 s, where 10,000 data samples would be reported each second. Such proposal if accepted, combined with the faster Protocol Buffer, will open the door for a number of new data collection applications.
A lot of people are wondering when EDA freeze III will be done. Probably not until late next year. How soon this happens mostly depends on how efficiently task force members provide feedback on the ballot drafts.
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