Clare Liu, a Cimetrix Solutions Engineer, goes over the pros and cons of choosing a commercial product for EDA/Interface A vs. building a solution from scratch. Read it now in Chinese, or below in English.
在半导体制造设备上实现EDA要求软件开发人员具有半导体行业标准（SEMI）和半导体设备的经验。这对大多数设备供应商来说是非常困难的。即使他们已经拥有良好的软件开发人员,经验丰富的工厂自动化工程师和一个完整的硬件设计团队,他们还是需要有效的共同协作,找出如何设计一个结构良好的设备模型(SEMIE120 CEM 通用设备模型规范)并将设备所有的变量、时间和报警映射到设备模型的各个节点上（SEMI E125 EqSD设备自我描述规范）。 一个商业的EDA解决方案能够同时为OEM提供这些知识，并且可以基于该设备，提供EDA开发过程的指导方针。
简单地实现EDA接口功能和正确有效地实现的结果是不一样的。我从中得到的教训之一是，我们花了几乎整整一年的时间来实现EDA Freeze I的各种功能，并为测试的需要开发了客户端软件。然而，当我们将我们的EDA解决方案发布给客户工厂时，他们使用权威的第三方测试软件产品对所有设备的EDA解决方案进行了验证。我们的实现最初没有通过验收，因为我们对EDA标准的理解与客户的理解有些差异。为此我们花了很长时间来逐一解决验收中遇到的问题。商业的EDA解决方案通常已经在许多工厂得到了验证，因此更加标准化。
The focus of this blog posting is the decision that many semiconductor manufacturing equipment suppliers face when deciding how to address the automation requirements of their most advanced customers, namely, whether or not to buy a commercial software package that supports the SEMI Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA / Interface A) Standards, or to develop this capability in-house.
I am especially qualified to explain the pros and cons of choosing a commercial solution, having worked as the EDA standards implementation lead developer in an equipment supplier before joining the Cimetrix team earlier this year.
Implementing EDA on a single unit of semiconductor manufacturing equipment requires that the software developers have experience with both SEMI Standards and the equipment. This is very difficult for most equipment suppliers. Even if they have good software developers, experienced factory automation engineers and a complete hardware design team, they must still work together efficiently to figure out how to design a well-structured equipment model (SEMI E120 CEM) and map all the equipment variables, events and alarm to the CEM nodes (SEMI E125 Equipment Self-Description). A commercial EDA package provides all this knowledge for the OEM and guidelines explaining the EDA development process for their systems.
Simply being able to implement the EDA interface functions is not the same as implementing them in a robust fashion. One of my lessons learned is that we spent almost an entire year to implement the EDA Freeze I version of the standards and the client software required to test these functions. However, when we released the EDA interface to the factory customer, they qualified the EDA solution for all equipment modules with an authoritative third-party compliance testing software product. Our implementation failed at first because our understanding of the SEMI Standards specifications was different from the customer’s understanding. So we struggled for a long time to fix all the problems. A commercial EDA package will necessarily have been proven in many sites and is therefore far more standardized.
A commercial EDA product can help the OEM develop a qualified EDA interface in a short time. Developing EDA in house adds time pressure to already tight delivery schedules, and if the requirements are coming from a new customer, the first equipment supplier supporting EDA standards may have an advantage. On the business side, EDA might be the key feature to get the order. On the technical side, the first usage may determine the approach used across the entire fab, thereby dictating operational requirements that the other equipment must meet in the production environment.
Using a commercial EDA package normally includes good technical support from the software supplier; this may be covered in the initial license fee or as a separate support contract. This means the OEM company does not have to dedicate a large software team for maintenance and troubleshooting of software issues. Instead, they can rely on a professional support team, and not worry about what happens if any of the in-house developers leave the company.
5. Knowledge update
The SEMI EDA standards are changing every year as improvements are identified and new technologies become viable for mission-critical production usage. At this writing, a new Freeze III version is being balloted. A commercial EDA package will closely follow the standards as they evolve and provide new features according to the requests from other factory users. This enables OEMs to respond quickly and reliably to the latest feature requests from their customers.
OEM must pay for the commercial package licenses and possibly for the annual support.
2. Intellectual Property (IP)
Some OEM companies want to have full control of the EDA interface source code, so they choose to develop and own the software by themselves. Most commercial packages don’t provide source code with a basic license.
3. Bug fixing lead time
If bugs are found in the commercial package, the equipment engineers and perhaps even the factory customers may need to help the software supplier find the root cause. And they must also wait for the supplier to fix and release a new version of the software. This can be quite inconvenient.
If this is a decision your company is facing, get in touch with us – we’re happy to share our expertise and market knowledge and help you make a well-informed decision.
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