Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

SEMI Honors the Richard Howard and other Leaders of the Cyber Security Standards Committee

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Aug 3, 2023 11:45:00 AM

Richard Howard, Director of Technical Operations, Cimetrix Connectivity Group (a part of PDF Solutions), along with other leaders of the SEMI Fab & Equipment Computing Device Security (CDS) Task Force, were awarded the SEMI International Standards Excellence Award, along with his co-leaders on the SEMI Fab & Equipment Computing Device Security (CDS) Task Force  (Leon Chang of TSMC, Ares Cho from ITRI and Ryan Bond of Intel). The award was announced at SEMICON West.IMG_6772-1

This award recognizes years of involvement and leadership by Richard Howard and the team in the development of new Semiconductor industry standards, in particular in the area of cybersecurity. Recognizing the urgent need for robust cybersecurity measures, SEMI's International Standards Information & Control Committees in Taiwan, Japan, and North America formed task forces in the fall of 2018 to investigate the feasibility and implementation of standards to address these threats. Over the years, the task forces worked diligently through regular meetings to coordinate efforts and eliminate redundancies.  As a direct result of this work, SEMI recently published its first two Cybersecurity Standards.

"I am very honored to be recognized with the other co-leaders of their respective task forces." said Richard Howard.  "I believe this award also truly recognizes the collaborative, international effort of the many task force members who have worked diligently to develop these initial standards. Our work is just beginning."


"We are extremely proud of the work of Richard Howard," said John Kibarian, PDF Solutions’ President and Chief Executive Officer. "These standards are a critical step toward safeguarding the semiconductor manufacturing infrastructure from the growing threat landscape. Through the dedicated efforts of the leadership of these task forces, and SEMI Standards members, there is a robust framework designed to enhance cybersecurity practices across the industry."

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

SEMICON West 2023 is next week and we will be there!

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Jul 5, 2023 10:00:00 AM

Screenshot 2023-06-29 at 2-45-56 PMPDF Solutions and Cimetrix by PDF Solutions are exhibiting at SEMICON West 2023 in less than a week and we hope to see you there!

SEMI is the principal industry association that represents the global electronics manufacturing supply chain, and regularly brings industry leaders together to drive the future of electronics and advanced semiconductor manufacturing. SEMICON West is one of its premier annual industry events, and this year’s gathering will take place July 11-13, 2023 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California with the theme “Building a Path Forward.”

At SEMICON West 2023, The Cimetrix Connectivity Group (CCG) of PDF Solutions will exhibit our latest software solutions that are designed to improve manufacturing quality and productivity. You can find us at booth #344 as well as a variety of other places during the exhibition. Be sure to stop by any of the following activities:

  • John Kibarian (CEO, PDF Solutions) will participate In DAC Research Panel "Why Is Curvy Design an Opportunity Now?" (July 11 at 1:30 pm)
  • Greg Prewitt (Director, PDF Solutions) will speak at the Test Vision Symposium on "Enhanced Parametric Test Insights Through Dynamic Data-Driven Test Flow Execution" (July 12, 11:15 am)
  • Ranjan Chatterjee (VP, Cimetrix Connectivity Group) will chair the AI/ML Enabled Manufacturing Operations Panel (July 12 at 2:00 pm @ Smart Manufacturing Theater)
  • Alan Weber (VP, Cimetrix Connectivity Group) will present "Connecting the Dots: From KPIs to Smart Manufacturing Applications to Industry Standards" (July 13 at 10:35 am @ Meet the Experts Theater)
  • Ming Zhang (VP, PDF Solutions ) will participate In a panel discussion "From Assembly Line to Field: The Future Semiconductor Testing" (July 13 at 3:40 pm @ Test Vision Symposium)
  • PDF Solutions presentation at AWS booth #1841
  • Exensio and proteanTecs daily demos - DAC booth #2449 at 2:30 pm and SEMICON booth #1834 at 11:30 am

At our booth (#344) we will showcase the latest versions of all our industry-leading solutions, as well as our Smart Factory platform, Cimetrix Sapience. Stop by to speak with an industry expert, or contact us by clicking the button below and let us answer all your questions!

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

How to Configure External Storage for CIMConnect™  Logging

Posted by Ian Ryu (류종하, 柳鍾夏); Client Training & Support on Jun 27, 2023 10:08:00 AM

Have you experienced a lack of storage space on your equipment?

There can be many reasons for this, and one of them is a lack of space for saving logs.  

One of our Cimetrix CIMConnect customers had this issue and asked if there is a way to add storage to their tool. The engineer commented that there are no available USB slots on their equipment computer. Therefore, he got permission to add a network drive to their system.

How to configure an external network drive for CIMConnect logging

  1. Connect an external storage device to the network and you may see it in your File Explorer.
  2. Run CIMConnect Control Panel
    1. Go to the equipment tab (“Equipment1” in this view)
    2. Go to “Logging Configuration” under “Equipment” menu.
    3. Click on the folder icon next to the “Directory” text box.logging-cimconnect-pic1 
    4. In the “Browse For Folder” window, find your network drive. 

      Here’s tricky part: you may find one under your network, not a mapped one.  It will give an absolute path name, such as “\\RT-AX56U-83E8\Cimetrix_Ian\CIMConnect Logs”logging-cimconnect-pic2
  3. If you still cannot see any log files created in that network drive directory. 
    In this case, please follow the steps below to register EMService as a COM Local Server. 
    1. Open Windows Command Prompt as an Administrator.
    2. Type “EMService.exe /RegServer” (without quotation marks) and hit Enter.
    3. Restart your EMService: go to Windows “Services” and select EMService then click “Restart”.

These steps set a network drive as your extended CIMConnect storage.

To Summarize:

  1. Connect an external drive to your network.
  2. Use CIMConnect Control Panel to find and set up the added drive. Don’t forget to configure one in the network, not a mapped drive.
  3. Register CIMConnect’s EMService as your COM local server.
  4. Restart EMService and enjoy the extra storage.

As I mentioned at the beginning, this is a good solution for those who do not have sufficient storage in their existing equipment control system. It is usually difficult to replace the entire PC on your equipment, but external storage can be as simple as I described in this posting.

To learn more about CIMConnect, logging or other products,  please feel free to reach out by clicking the button below.

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Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Standards

High level overview of equipment communication during semiconductor fabrication

Posted by Mohamed Shazif on Jun 9, 2023 10:45:00 AM

In the semiconductor industry, the fabrication process is a complex process and involves multiple steps to achieve the desired result. Each process step uses different types of equipment. Semiconductor industry equipment uses a specific type of communication protocol called SECS/GEM (SEMI equipment communication standard and Generic equipment model).

High-level architecture of a fabrication factory


  • MES: Manufacturing Execution System is the central part of the production process. It connects with multiple equipment and monitors the progress of material in individual equipment and the entire factory at the same time. It integrates the ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning) and individual machines.
  • MES DB: It is a MES database system that will store the MES related information including recipe information.
  • FDC: Fault Detection and Classification is used to continuously monitor the sensor data coming from the equipment and analyze and detect fault to prevent it from reoccurrence.
  • APC: Advanced Process Control uses R2R (Run to Run) method that adjust the process parameters based on the incoming and outgoing data from an equipment for a material in combination with process model.
  • Host: This is an application that connects with the equipment via SECS/GEM. This application instructs the equipment to process the materials and retrieve the related information.
  • Equipment: This is a tool that performs and process the incoming materials based on the instruction given by the host.
  • DB: This is an equipment database that can store the material processing information as a raw data form. (Example Metrology tool data).

Some of the SECS/GEM standards we will highlight are E4, E37, E5 and E30.


Communication Layer

There are two different types of GEM communication models.

  • SEMI E4 standard which is SECS-I a serial communication model that uses RS-232.
  • SEMI E37 standard which is HSMS communication model that uses TCP/IP. (There is a subset of E37 standard is called E37.1 HSMS-SS).

Message Structure Layer

The Message Structure Layer is also called the SEMI E5 standard. A typical SECS/GEM message contains a header and a body. The Header contains Stream and Function, and a Body contains a list of one or more data items. Each data items may contain another list of data items. Refer the below example.

Screenshot 2023-06-07 at 2.06.54 PM

GEM Layer

Messages can be categorized into two types, the primary message and secondary message.

Primary messages are usually the request message that will be initiated by one party (Host/equipment). The secondary message will be the response that will be acknowledged by the other party (host/equipment).


Some common GEM messages include:

  • Collection Events – these messages are raised when the equipment processes the substrates using S6F11.
  • Alarms – these messages are raised when any problem occurs at the equipment using S5F1.
  • Remote Commands – these messages are sent by the host to command the equipment using S2F41.
  • Recipe Management – these messages manage the recipes and can sent by either party. Example: S7F3 is the recipe download command.

A typical process flow between a host and the GEM based equipment is explained below.



This blog post has summarized how the factory host communicates with equipment using SECS/GEM protocol. At the Cimetrix Connectivity Group of PDF Solutions, we have products for the factory hosts that can easily be integrated with any existing systems with minimal configuration settings. To learn more about our products for the factory host click on the below button.

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Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Standards

Introducing the "GEM OPC Connector" Application

Posted by Mark Bennett; Client Support Engineer on May 9, 2023 11:15:00 AM

If you’ve ever wondered how to implement the SEMI E30 GEM (Generic Equipment Model) communications standard in a PLC-based equipment control system, read on – this posting is for you!

What problem does the GEM OPC Connector Application solve?

The Cimetrix CIMConnect product provides a software library that equipment suppliers in a wide range of manufacturing industries use to integrate the GEM standard into their equipment control systems and associated applications. These applications are typically written in C#, VB.NET, or C++, which must run on a Microsoft Windows operating system.

This solution works great for equipment controllers that run on Windows, but what about equipment that does not use a Windows-based control system? In particular, some equipment controllers are PLC based and therefore cannot use the CIMConnect libraries directly. What then? The GEM OPC Connector application very effectively addresses this specific situation.

GEM OPC Connector Application Description

The screenshot below shows the GEM State Settings and current status of a GEM interface implemented by the GEM OPC Connector application. 


The GEM OPC Connector is provided as a CIMConnect sample application. Several of our customers have used it to implement a GEM interface for their PLC-based equipment applications. Since it runs on the same computer as CIMConnect, it requires a Windows operating system, but thankfully, most equipment types that have PLC-based controllers also have a Windows computer somewhere in the overall control system. For example, the HMIs (Human-Machine Interfaces) on much of this equipment run on Windows computers and use OPC UA (or OPC Classic) to share data between the HMI and PLC controllers. In this configuration, CIMConnect and the GEM OPC Connector application can be installed on the HMI Windows computer and connect to the same OPC UA server that the HMI uses (see the block diagram below). Of course, if the equipment controller does not already have a Windows computer, one would have to be added to the controller to use this solution.


How Does it Work?

The GEM OPC Connector application is both a CIMConnect application and an OPC client. GEM features are supported by CIMConnect and variables defined in the OPC server can be used to invoke method calls in CIMConnect or to receive notifications from CIMConnect. OPC variables can be used to:

  1. Update status variables (SVIDs) and equipment constants (ECIDs)
  2. Trigger collection events (CEIDs)
  3. Set or Clear alarms.
  4. Receive notification of remote commands from the host.
  5. Invoke custom methods. For example, there are pre-defined methods to:
    1. Set the Offline/Online switch,
    2. Set the Local/Remote switch,
    3. Enable/Disable GEM communication with the host,
    4. Change the GEM communication settings.

As OPC UA tags  are updated by the PLCs or the HMI, the GEM OPC Connector monitors these tag value changes and calls the appropriate methods in CIMConnect depending on the function of each OPC UA tag.

Data updates and control signals can go in the opposite direction as well. For example, when the host sends a remote command to the equipment, the GEM OPC Connector handles the remote command by updating the OPC UA tags associated with that remote command’s parameters and setting a Boolean OPC UA tag value to “True” to notify the PLC-based control application that a remote command has been invoked by the host.

An XML configuration file defines the various types of links between OPC UA tags and GEM artifacts. Each link describes a specific function and provides the additional information needed to perform that function. The following sections give examples for several common link types.

Variable Links

Variable links are used to keep GEM variables and OPC UA variables in sync.  The links look like this in the XML file:

GEM_OPC_Connector_pic3This example links the GEM EstablishCommTimeout equipment constant (VID = 4000) to an OPC UA tag = “Channel1.Device1.Standard ECs.EstablishCommTimeout”. Since equipment constants can be updated by the operator or by the host, the Direction attribute is “Both”.

Alarm Links

Alarm links are used to Set and Clear GEM alarms. Alarm links look like this in the XML file:

GEM_OPC_Connector_pic4This example links a GEM alarm (ALID = 20045) to a Boolean OPC UA tag = “Channel1.Device1.Alarms.PMTempTooHigh”.  The PLC software sets this value when an alarm state changes. The GEM OPC Connector monitors this tag for any value changes, and calls the SetAlarm() or ClearAlarm() methods in CIMConnect to update the associated alarm state accordingly.

Event Links

Event links are used to trigger GEM collection events. Event links look like this in the XML file:

GEM_OPC_Connector_pic5This example links a GEM collection event (CEID = 5000) to a Boolean OPC UA tag = “Channel1.Device1.Events.LoadLockDoorOpened”. The GEM OPC Connector monitors this tag for any value changes, and when the value changes from 0 to 1, it calls a method in CIMConnect to trigger the associated event.

Remote Command Links

Remote command links are used to notify the PLC equipment application of a remote command initiated by the host. Remote command links look like this in the XML file:

GEM_OPC_Connector_pic6This example links the GEM “PP-SELECT” remote command to the Boolean OPC UA Tag = “Channel1.Device1.RemoteCommands.PP-SELECT”. Parameter values are optional. In this case there is a single parameter linked to OPC UA tag = “Channel1.Device1.RemoteCommands.PP-SELECT_PPID”. When the host sends the PP-SELECT remote command using S2F41 “Host Command Send”, the GEM OPC Connector handles the message as follows: if the value of the Processing State is such that the equipment can accept this remote command, the parameter value will be updated first, and then the PP-SELECT value will be set to ”True” to notify the PLC application that the remote command was invoked.

Method Links

Method links are used to invoke custom methods in the GEM OPC Connector itself. Several pre-defined methods are available, and custom methods can be added, but the latter requires source code changes to the GEM OPC Connector application. Method links look like this in the XML file:


This example links the method named “PPChange” to the Boolean OPC UA tag = “Channel1.Device1.Methods.PPChange”. Methods may have parameters, and in this case, there are two parameters linked to OPC UA tags: one for the Process Program name that has changed, and another to describe the type of change that was made (Create, Edit, or Delete). To invoke this method, the PLC should first update the parameter values and then change the PPChange OPC UA tag value from 0 to 1 to notify the GEM OPC Connector that the method has been invoked. The GEM OPC Connector then looks for the method by name and executes the code.  In this example, it would update the GEM data variables PPChangeName and PPChangeStatus and trigger the PPChange collection event.


This quick overview of the GEM OPC Connector application is intended to pique your interest in this capability and prompt you to contact us to find out how much more there is to be learned. If you think the GEM OPC Connector might be right for you, reach out to us by clicking the button below for a demo !

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Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Cimetrix Products, Standards

North America Information & Control Committee Spring 2023 Update

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Apr 11, 2023 9:45:00 AM


At SEMI in North America, the Information & Control Committee meets three times per year; spring summer and fall. This year the spring meetings were held on April 3-5. The meetings include task forces with leaders from Cimetrix on the GEM 300, ABFI (Advanced Backend Factory Integration), GUI, DDA, CDS task forces as well as the committee meeting on the final day. This is a summary of what happened in the task forces I am highly involved in including GEM 300, ABFI and DDA. 

GEM 300 Task Force

After very busy previous GEM 300 task force meetings over the last couple of years, this is the first time in a long time that the GEM 300 task force did not have a major ballot up for voting. A major update to the GEM standard (SEMI E30), ballot 6572C, is awaiting publication at SEMI but was previously approved. In our task force meeting this week, we primarily discussed a new ballot proposed by a couple of active task force members regarding SEMI E172, SPECIFICATION FOR SECS EQUIPMENT DATA DICTIONARY (SEDD). The proposed new ballot would enhance the E172 SEDD file to add: 

  1. alarm names
  2. a new “well known” element to all collection events, data variables, status variables, equipment constants and alarms.
  3. enhanced comments in the schema file
  4. possibly a few schema changes regarding the handling of empty lists

The major new feature is the “well known” element. When an equipment supplier creates a GEM interface on the equipment and related GEM 300 standards, the implemented SEMI standards define required collection events, data variables, status variables, equipment constants and alarms which much be available. However, the actual name for each required item published in the GEM interface is not specified in the standard and is not a strict requirement. As a result, implementations of GEM and GEM 300 standards use different names for the same required item. For example, the GEM standard requires collection event “Control State REMOTE” to notify when the operator changes the equipment to remote control. One implementation might call this collection event “ControlStateRemote” while other implementations might call this collection event “Control State REMOTE” or “CntrlStateREMOTE”. All of these names are valid and GEM Compliant. The “well known” element in the E172 SEDD file would allow items in the GEM interface to be assigned a tag mapping it to a required item in a SEMI standard. Each SEMI standard in turn will need to be updated to define “well known” names to use in the E172 SEDD File. This new feature will allow GEM host software to have increased plug-and-play intelligence when connecting to a GEM interface to identify standard features. EDA (Equipment Data Acquisition) interfaces solved this problem in the SEMI E164 standard. The proposed “well known” names to be used in a GEM interface are expected to use the same names currently found in SEMI E164. Then SEMI E164 can be updated to reference the same “well known” names. This will be a lot of work to standardize, but will be a valuable feature. The upcoming GEM revision already defines how an SEDD file can be transmitted through the GEM interface using Stream 21 messages. 

Additionally, the task force discussed SEMI E87 and the new carrier ready to unload prediction. Prior to these discussions on April 3, I had thought that the state model was stabilized enough to implement. However, the work for ballot 6835 has been redefined to include additional work to modify the state model yet again. With this redefined scope, a new ballot number will be issued by SEMI. The task force is investigating changing the state model to predict transition to a final carrier accessing state (carrier complete or carrier stopped) instead of predicting transition to the carrier ready-to-unload state. The assumption is that the time between carrier completion and ready-to-unload states is fixed, and that it might be more useful for internal buffer equipment to predict carrier completion instead than ready-to-unload. Additionally, a few of the states are proposed to be changed. 

Both activities are expected to happen quickly and be submitted for SEMI voting cycle 5 in 2023. 

ABFI (Advanced Backend Factory Integration) Task Force

A new specification (ballot 6924, Specification for Equipment Management of Consumable and Durables) and subordinate standard (ballot 6925, Specification for SECS-II Protocol for Equipment Management of Consumable and Durables) were submitted for voter feedback since the committee last met in the fall. During the Spring meetings, the voter feedback was adjudicated. The ABFI Task Force and the I&C (Information & Control) Committee agreed to fail ballots 6924 and 6925. There were a few technical mistakes in the ballots that need to be reworked. Most of the feedback identified editorial mistakes or improvements in the ballot. Only a few minor technical issues need to be ironed out. I will be reworking both ballots, seeking task force member feedback and submitting them to the upcoming SEMI Cycle 5 voting. The voting feedback from the last cycle makes me optimistic that the ballots will soon pass and become new standards. 

The task force also spent time discussing and debating SEMI E142 substrate maps and how they might be used in specific traceability situations. 

DDA (Diagnostics Data Acquisition) Task Force

The DDA task force and Information & Control committee pass several ballots proposed by the DDA task force including:

  • Ballot 7001 – Revision to SEMI E125-1022 Specification for Equipment Self Description (EqSD) and SEMI E125.2-1022 Specification for Protocol Buffers for Equipment Self Description (EqSD)
  • Ballot 7002 – Revision to SEMI E132-0922 Specification for Equipment Client Authentication and Authorization and SEM E132.2-0422e Specification for Protocol Buffers for Equipment Client Authentication and Authorization (ECA)
  • Ballot 7003 - Revision to SEMI E134-1022 Specification for Data Collection Management and SEMI E134.2-1022 Specification for Protocol Buffers of Data Collection Management
  • Ballot 7017 - Line Item Revision To SEMI E120.2-0922: Specification For Protocol Buffers For Common Equipment Model (CEM)

All of these ballots are part of the effort to develop a “freeze 3” version of the EDA (Equipment Data Acquisition) standards, where the underling protocol will use gRPC and Protocol Buffer technology instead of the current SOAP and HTTP seen in EDA freeze versions 1 and 2. 

Ballot 7002 includes multiple editorial changes and technical changes. The technical changes will result in a Ratification ballot for SEMI Cycle 4 voting. If the Ratification ballot passes, then ballot 7002 will pass. But if it fails then ballot 7002 will also fail and have to be reworked. 

While handling the considerable work adjudicating all of the ballot negatives and comments, the task force considered some new cases. For example, the task force discussed the role of the Security Admin, and whether it should be used only for EDA interface management as designed today or whether it should also provide additional EDA diagnostics capabilities. 

For the first time in a very long time, no DDA ballots are proposed for the next voting cycle (other than the Ratification ballot). The task force co-leaders are hoping to let SEMI publication catch up and to plan another event where companies can test EDA against other implementations. The previous tests were limited to E132. Since then some major changes have been made to E132. The new tests would include testing E132, E125 and E134 together to ensure that the standards define compatible and useful EDA implementations. After these tests, it is expected that one more round of changes might be needed for E132, E125 and E134 to correct defects or missing features identified by members participating in this testing. 

Information & Control Committee

For the first time in a very long time, the committee meeting was unable to complete all planned business. To comply with SEMI regulations, the meeting was required to end on time with unfinished business. The unfinished business will be handled by the Information & Control GCS chairs. This group includes the co-chairs from the SEMI Information & Control Committees in North America, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China. 

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Standards

SEMI’s Smart Manufacturing Standards Survey: Usage, Requirements, Expectations, and Issues

Posted by Alan Weber: Vice President, New Product Innovations on Dec 7, 2022 10:30:00 AM

Earlier this quarter (October 2022) the SEMI Smart Manufacturing Council conducted one of its regular meetings with factory stakeholders to determine what sort of SEMI-sponsored activities could accelerate this important industry initiative. One focus area of the discussion was getting more and better data out of the sub-fab, since the performance and integration of these components is becoming more important for many of the leading manufacturers. The related, familiar topic of achieving better visibility into equipment and process behavior was also raised.

In that context, as it often does, the role of industry standards came up as a key enabling technology. The following question was posed: “Are the current standards sufficient to support the broad range of smart manufacturing use cases that factories envision, or does more need to be done? Specifically, since the Information and Control Committee is working on the Freeze 3 version of the EDA (Equipment Data Acquisition, also known as Interface A) suite of standards, are there problems that need to be addressed to improve the adoption of usage of these standards?”

This question triggered a lively (but non-convergent!) conversation among the participants in the meeting, many of whom have years (no, decades) of experience working in the standards community. Before long, it became clear that the group had no clear answer to these questions, and that more information from the actual user community was needed. Someone suggested that the Council pose the questions to a broader audience in survey form, and this proposal was enthusiastically accepted. Several of us volunteered to generate a draft survey for SEMI’s review and refinement, which got the activity off to a running start.

Given this opportunity to connect directly with the ultimate beneficiaries of SEMI Standards, there was a temptation to broaden the survey’s scope to cover other topics of interest in the smart manufacturing domain. Cognizant of the fact that the longer surveys have a lower chance of being returned with useful data, however, the group largely resisted this temptation, including the most important questions in an easy-to-answer format, leaving room for optional additional information in the responses for those so inclined.  

The final survey was issued by SEMI around October 21,2022 with a requested response date of November 15 (which has been extended to gather more feedback). Rather than repeat the entire content here, I include the following excerpts from the introduction and the table of contents:

The purpose of this questionnaire is to assess the status of the industry’s experience with and impressions of the SEMI EDA (Equipment Data Acquisition) standards suite to guide current and future initiatives that improve its capabilities, communicate implementation best practices, and foster broader adoption to realize the vision of SEMI’s Smart Manufacturing Community.

Respondents to this questionnaire should include companies that have already deployed the EDA standards in volume production as well as those that have yet to do so. Respondents in the latter category can simply skip the questions about current usage/issues.

The target audience was originally thought to be stakeholders in 300mm wafer fabs, but with the growing interest in enhanced data collection and automation for backend (packaging, assembly, and test) factories AND growth in the 200mm wafer fab segment (including new models of 200mm manufacturing equipment), it has been broadened to include these domains as well.  

Most questions are posed in multiple choice format, but additional detail is always welcome in the Comments fields where appropriate.

SEMI will compile the responses and share the result with the industry while preserving the anonymity of individual responses.

  1. Manufacturing Stakeholders
  2. Manufacturing KPIs (Operational Performance)
  3. Manufacturing Application Support
  4. Automation Requirements and Equipment Acceptance
  5. Current (or intended) Usage
  6. Issues and Expectations
  7. Other Data Collection Needs

Appendix – Stakeholders and Acronyms





Moreover, at this writing, the link to the on-line survey is still active here: 
à SEMI Equipment Data Acquisition / Interface A Standards Survey – Questionnaire on Usage, Requirements, Expectations, and Issues.

Finally, if you are interested in the details of the survey, and especially if you would like to provide your inputs directly to SEMI, you should contact Mark da Silva, Chair, SEMI Smart Manufacturing, Global Executive Committee, at

And as always, to discuss your company’s specific Smart Manufacturing journey and to understand how we at Cimetrix by PDF Solutions can help, click on the contact button below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

GEM Standard Update October 2022

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Oct 31, 2022 10:45:00 AM


Chris Maloney of Intel and I are the North American GEM 300 Task Force co-leaders. We lead the task force activity related to all SEMI standards related to GEM technology. This includes a long list of SEMI standards.

APCSM Conference

I recently participated in the APCSM (Advanced Process Control Smart Manufacturing) conference in Austin, Texas by teaching about the GEM standard. In the material I presented, I included what I called the “core philosophies of GEM”. These are the features in GEM that justify the increased adoption and usage of GEM technology. These core philosophies include:

Two Levels of Subscription

An equipment’s GEM interface serves as a message broker and much more. It is not just a simple on/off message subscription service. The end user host has substantial control to dictate the content of each message coming from the equipment. The same GEM interface might send fewer and smaller messages at one end user site and send many and larger messages at another, based on the data collection setup by each’s end user’s host. Compare the following features to a typical message broker subscription model, where a client can only subscribe to receive or not receive specific messages but has no control over the message content or frequency.

Collection event reports allow the end user to enable and disable collection event message notifications, a typical client subscription model. As a second level of subscription, the end user also can choose the data reported in those messages.

Trace reports allow the end user to choose the trace report message frequency. As a second level of subscription, the end user also chooses the data reported in those messages.


Alarm reports allow the end user to enable and disable alarm message notifications. As a second level of subscription, the end user also independently chooses the collection event report configuration for the collection events associated with the alarms.


Any manufacturing equipment, simple or complex, can have a GEM interface. The GEM interface complexity reflects the equipment’s complexity. For example, one GEM interface might have 15 unique collection events yet another might have 20,000. One equipment might have 10 status variables while another has over 5,000.

Additionally, the technology within a GEM interface is mature enough that it is possible to implement a GEM interface on equipment platform, be that Windows, Linux, a PLC or any other operating system. A surprising number of equipment are still using older software development technology including Visual Basic 6.0 and Visual C++ 6.0, but these can still implement GEM. And yes, even an equipment implemented completely on a PLC could have a minimalistic GEM interface within the PLC using serial communication or TCP/IP. The GEM standard allows implementation to choose to implement capabilities or not based on what is appropriate.


It is easy to add additional collection events, alarms and variables to an existing GEM interface without affecting backward compatibility. And once new items are in the GEM interface, the end user host can use the data or not as desired.

It is also to combine requirements from different sources and put them together in one GEM interface. To explain further, requirements for a GEM interface will come from different end users, the GEM standard itself, the equipment supplier and from additional standards. It is relatively into to combine the requirements from all of these sources into one GEM interface. And the combined data collection features can be combined together inherently is trace reports and collection event reports.


Top-Down Connectivity

In many situations it can be useful to give one equipment access to data from another equipment. One possible solution for this is direct equipment-to-equipment communication. However, when using GEM while direct equipment-to-equipment connectivity is not prohibited, it is not normally used. Instead, GEM uses a top-down approach to connectivity. This means that the end user host collects information from one equipment using its GEM interface, and then the end user host passes that information to the downstream equipment. While this might seem less efficient because it is indirect, this top-down approach can be easier to integrate on the factory floor. Reasons include:

1. The scenarios can be equipment agnostic. Validating equipment-to-equipment communication can be difficult. And you can’t easily swap one equipment from one supplier with equipment from other. Each equipment only has be tested with one host entity.

2. This is easier for the equipment supplier to support. The equipment supplier only must support the GEM interface, not an additional equipment-to-equipment protocol.

3. This gives mores control to the end user. The end can log precisely what is occurring with each equipment, and can even manipulate the information if necessary. And independent connection between equipment is an additional complication when diagnosing issues.


Exciting Changes to the GEM Standard

In a couple weeks ballot 6572C, a proposal to modify the SEMI E30 GEM standard, will be adjudicated during the Fall North American Information & Control Committee. The meeting will be held on November 9, 2022 at SEMI headquarters in Milpitas, CA. This ballot proposes the biggest changes to the GEM standard in many years. Since this is the fourth round of balloting these changes, it seems highly likely that the changes will be approved, especially since the voting in the last round indicated strong support for the changes. Following is a summary of the proposed changes

Process Program Management

Several changes are proposed related to the handling of equipment recipes, a.k.a. process programs. The biggest change is a proposal to officially adopt the Stream 21 SECS-II messages previously approved in the SEMI E5 (SECS-II) standard, which is the library for all standard message definitions. Stream 21 messages will allow equipment to transfer unformatted process programs to and from the equipment even when they are greater than 16.7 MB. This is a long overdue enhancement to the GEM standard, which current defines alternative ways to support large process programs which are complicated enough that few if any have ever implemented it.

Additionally, the process program management section has been completely reorganized to isolate each implementation alternative, so make it easier to identify the set of scenarios. For example, here is a new table summarizing the messages for each scenario:

Table 7 SECS-II Message Summary For Each Process Program Management Option


Each process program implementation alternative removed from the main body of the GEM standard has been relocated into an appendix.

The hope is that recipe management will be easier to understand, easier to implement, and able to handle the increasing size of process programs will less effort.

Additional New Messages

Ballot 6572C also proposes the addition of new message S2F51 through F64. These messages were also previously approved in the SEMI E5 (SECS-II) standard and are now proposed to be added to the GEM standard. These message add additional transparency to a GEM interface. Here is a quick summary of the new messages:

Message Description
S2F51 A request to the equipment to return the list of all report identifiers.


A request to return one or more report definitions
S2F55 A request to the equipment to return the list of linked reports identifiers for one or more collection events.
S2F57 A request to the equipment to return the list of all collection event identifiers that are enabled for reporting.
S2F59 A request to the equipment to return the list of streams and functions that are to be spooled whenever spooling is active.
S2F61 A request to the equipment to return the list of all trace identifiers.
S2F63 A request to the equipment to return the list of one or more trace definitions.


These new messages not only make a GEM interfaces setup and configuration more transparent, but they also will allow for improved GEM interface testing. For example, it will be possible to test a GEM interface following steps like these:

1. Define a report using message S2F33
2. Check the report existence using new message S2F51
3. Check the report definition using new message S2F53
4. Link the report to a collection event using message S2F35
5. Check the report linking using new message S2F55
6. Enable the collection event using message S2F37
7. Check for the collection event enable status using new message S2F57
8. Disconnect from the equipment and restart the equipment
9. Check the report existence using new message S2F51
10. Check the report definition using new message S2F53
11. Check the report linking using new message S2F55
12. Check for the collection event enable status using new message S2F57

Today it is common for a host when it reconnects to a GEM interface to redefine the data collection, to ensure that the data collection was not changed while it was not connected where another host application might have modified the data collection setup. Instead of redefining the data collection, a host can verify whether the data collection is still the same.

Equipment Identification

Today an equipment is identified through a GEM interface using the equipment’s software revision and model number. Two equipment of the same model number and running the software revision cannot be easily distinguished.

A few new identification features were added.

E30EquipmentSupplier This is a new proposal to identify the equipment supplier.
EqpSerialNum The equipment’s serial number. This has been part of the E5 SECS-II standard for many years, but was not required by the GEM standard.
EqpName A name assignable by the operator or host. This has been part of the E5 SECS-II standard for many years, but was not required by the GEM standard


Improved equipment identification should assist Advanced Process Control applications.

Documentation Access

One of the common difficulties using a GEM interface is getting access to the correct documentation for an equipment, and the right version of that documentation. This ballot proposes providing two ways to obtain GEM documentation through a GEM interface.

1. Download the traditional GEM documentation, which might be a PDF or CSV file.
2. Download the SEDD file, an XML file describing the GEM interface. SEDD stands for SECS Equipment Data Dictionary.

In both cases, the documentation is downloaded using Stream 21 messages, the same new message available for process program transfer.

Miscellaneous Changes

There are a handful of other changes also proposed. SEMI somewhat recently adopted requirements for restricted bias terminology and guidelines for other biased terminology. Although no restricted bias terms were in the GEM standard, some biased terms are present. The ballot address bias terms that can be addressed following SEMI guidelines.

The GEM compliance statement has also been updated to reflect changes to GEM. The new compliance statement looks like this:



Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

EDA Freeze 3 Update September 2022

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Sep 29, 2022 10:45:00 AM


As one of the North American DDA Task Force co-leaders, I am often asked when EDA Freeze 3 will be ready to implement. The SEMI DDA Task Force has been working on developing an EDA Freeze 3 standard for several years. This is an updated version of the data collection standard for manufacturing equipment. Unfortunately, due to many factors, this work has been slow to develop. For more information on a “freeze version” see SEMI standard E178 where official freeze versions are defined.


To date the following ballots have been completed:

Standard (Ballot)

Ballot Status

E138 (6336) Published - 03/15/2019
E120 (6434) Published – 05/30/2019
E145 (6436) Published – 05/31/2019
E178 (6300) Published – 01/10/2020
E179 (6803) Published – 03/11/2022
E132 (6719A) Published – 04/29/2022
E132.2 (6346F) Published – 04/29/2022
E125 (6718A) Published – 04/22/2022
E134 (6720A) Final publication approval. Possibly 09/2022 but certainly by 10/2022.
E134.2 (6347A) Final publication approval. Possibly 09/2022 but certainly by 10/2022.
E179 (6837) Approved - In Publication Queue
E125.2 (6345A) Final publication approval. Possibly 09/2022 but certainly by 10/2022.
E125 (6891) Final publication approval. Possibly 09/2022 but certainly by 10/2022.
E179 (6892) Approved - In Publication Queue
E120.2 (6908) Final publication approval. Possibly 09/2022 but certainly by 10/2022.


In the last summer 2022 meetings, three DDA task force ballots failed adjudication, 6927 (E125, E125.2), 6928 (E132, E132.2) and 6929 (E134, E134.2) due to procedural errors which violated SEMI regulations. This is primarily due to a long backlog of publications on previously approved specifications. Since then SEMI has been working very hard to catch up standard publication.

Test Session #1

The most important activity for the DDA task force was “vender test session #1” held on Thursday, July 14. An open invitation was made to all task force members to participate in an E132 test session. Anyone could submit a client and/or equipment server implemented with the current E132 and E179 specifications. Four companies came together and ran tests against each other’s software. Each participant will provide the task force with a list of issues in E132 and E179. This was a great opportunity to try the gRPC technology together and get a sense of what issues still need to be resolved before EDA Freeze 3 is complete.

Current Ballots

There are two ballots currently open for voting. Adjudication on the voting will occur during North America SEMI Fall meetings the second week of November at SEMI headquarters (attendees can also attend remotely).

Ballot 6947

Ballot 6997 is an update to SEMI E179, a foundation standard for EDA freeze 3 defining how gRPC is applied to the standards and other important definitions. This ballot has three line items.

1. Fix a defect in the definition of Arrays discovered by the Cimetrix Software Engineering team.
2. Clarification of the usage of the “one of” keyword
3. Address changes related to conformance to the SEMI style manual.

Ballot 6946

This ballot includes 5 line items, including work from a few contributors.

1. Clarify some definitions and concepts.
2. A complete rework of ACL passwords and security scenarios.
3. Rework EstablishSession and ChangeSessionEndpoint functionality.
4. Fix some issues discovered during the vender test session #1.
5. Clean up some spelling errors and the usage of .proto files.

The rework of ACL passwords and security was submitted by Cimetrix. In current EDA freeze 1 and freeze 2, there are no passwords where authentication only occurs when SSL is used. Passwords were introduced to E132 in a previous ballot, passed voting and were published. The intention is provide some security despite not using SSL. However, a security review of the current password implementation revealed some issues with the authentication. The ballot proposes the introduction of a challenge token which allows an EDA client to prove knowledge of the correct password, as outlined in this scenario:

Client Session


Equipment Server

Client Session is assumed to know the equipmentId, clientId and plaintext ACL password. The equipmentId can be obtained using the InterfaceDiscovery interface.



(equipmentId, clientId)




Generate a challengeToken value associated with the equipmentId and clientId.



(aclEntrySalt, challengeToken)

Client Session uses aclEntrySalt and plaintext ACL password to generate the passwordHash.



Client Session uses the challengeToken and passwordHash to generate a client challengePasswordHash



Equipment Server uses the challengeToken and passwordHash to generate its version of challengePasswordHash


EstablishSessionRequest (equipmentId, clientId, challengePasswordHash)


Client Session provided challengePasswordHash equals Equipment Server’s version challengePasswordHash

Generate the sessionId.




At no point is an EDA client required to include the password or hashed password when establishing a session. To keep passwords secure, administrative EDA clients should use SSL when adding ACL entries. This increase in security is expected to allow for the adoption of EDA standards in a wider spectrum of applications.

Known Future Ballots

  • An update to E164.
  • Another update to E132, E125, and E134. A proposal was made to redefine the terms “client” and “consumer”. This week, the task force decided to go forward with this proposal.
    • The adoption of gRPC allows EDA clients to receive NewData messages with a bi-directional (full duplex) connection. In EDA freeze 1 and 2, SOAP message over HTTP are only one-directional. This new bi-directional use case muddied the meaning of “client” and “consumer”. The proposal will clarify how a “client” is the entity that initiates communication with the “equipment server”. When configured to do so, an “equipment server” can initiate communication with a “consumer”. So there may or may not be a consumer present.
    • EDA Freeze 3 also introduces three classifications of messages from the equipment server, heartbeat, operational, and notification messages. The heartbeat and operational are sent either to the client (in bi-directional mode), to the consumer or are disabled entirely. Notification messages can be sent to client and/or consumer.
  • The task force plans to organize another test session open to anyone interested, where E132, E120, E125 and E134 can all be tested together. This had been planned for early 2023, but dates have not been proposed and these plans may slip. This test is expected to validate whether the published standards are ready. The task force leaders expect that some issues might be revealed and further changes to E125 and E134 may be required. If so, EDA freeze 3 might not be ready until spring 2024.
  • An update to E178 Guide for EDA Freeze Version. This is the final step to officially declare the freeze 3 version.

To summarize, while the EDA Freeze 3 is not getting completed as quickly as most would like, the work is progressing. There aren’t any major hurdles at this time, but it lots of time and effort to complete the work that has already been planned.


Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry, EDA/Interface A, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0

Exploring the Highlights of What's New With Cimetrix CIMControlFramework (CCF)

Posted by Derek Lindsey: Product Manager on Aug 30, 2022 11:45:00 AM

What’s new with CIMControlFrameworkTM (CCF)?

CCF is a software development kit (SDK) that enables users to design and implement a high-quality equipment control solution using provided components for supervisory control, material handling, operator interface, platform and process control, and automation requirements. CCF is built on the reliable Cimetrix connectivity products which provide GEM/GEM300/EDA interface functionality.

We released CCF 6.0 in March of 2021. Since that time, we have released four additional versions of CCF. In CCF 6.1 we added a continuous flow sample. We created a blog post for that sample that can be read here. We thought it would be fun to create another blog to keep readers up to date on some of the additional cool things that have been added to CCF in these subsequent releases.

GUI Changes

Many of the visible changes to CCF have been made in the operator interface.

New WPF OI for vacuum sample

The trend for most of our CCF customers has been to implement their equipment control application GUI using Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). In previous releases, CCF had fully functional WPF GUIs for the Atmospheric and Continuous Flow samples. CCF now has a full WPF operator interface for the Vacuum Sample. The picture below shows the default main screen for the WPF GUI for the Vacuum Sample.

Op-interface-CCF-whats-newNew visualization library

In addition to full operator interfaces created with WPF, a visualization library has been added to CCF. In previous versions, visualizations were achieved using bitmaps that were updated when states changed. While the results were adequate, they did not scale very well, and it was difficult to customize the visualizations. The new visualization library uses vector graphics to draw the visualizations. This makes the lines and images in the visualizations crisp and clear regardless of the scale. It also allows for easy customization so that CCF application developers can create a visualization to exactly match their equipment. The Developer Guide and training labs have instructions for using the new visualization library.

The picture of the full GUI main screen above shows the default visualization for the vacuum sample. The following image is a visualization from the continuous flow sample.

Continuous-flow-CCF-Whats-newBoth visualization examples were created with the same visualization library.

Additional GUI changes

In addition to the GUI changes listed above, Cimetrix has made more changes to the GUI and added new screens for both WinForms and WPF. These screens include:

  • GEM300 E39 objects screen
  • GEM Traces screen
  • GEM Reports screen
  • EFEM Robot service screen
  • Aligner Service screen

Simulation Changes

Cimetrix has always been a proponent of using simulators as much as possible during equipment control application development and testing. (See blog post on simulation here.) Simulation in CCF has always been easy to use, but now it is even easier and has more functionality. Simulators should be interchangeable with hardware so that regardless of whether you are running against simulation or real hardware, the application makes the same calls and receives the same feedback. In the latest versions of CCF, Cimetrix has:

  • Added simulation for Kawasaki D60 robot
  • Added simulation for TDK TAS300 LP
  • Made simulation more extensible
  • Added simulation templates

Efficiency Changes

A change that is not very flashy but is probably one of the most important changes made to CCF is that the efficiency has been greatly improved. While CCF has never been a resource hog, there were some instances where it was using more CPU and memory than was needed. This was the case especially when GUI screens were being updated with large amounts of data.

In these instances, a data structure dealing with material locations and another dealing with process and control job data were being sent from the supervisory layer to the GUI more frequently than was needed. By being more intelligent about sending these data structures, we have greatly reduced the CPU usage.

Another change that has reduced CPU usage and data traffic is that the user can now set up trace reports to the GUI that are only sent when data changes rather than on a 10 Hz timer.

Additionally, CCF now has a performance monitor class that allows users to monitor performance counters like CPU, Disk usage, and memory usage.

CCF provides history objects for storing certain data to a database. This history includes:

  • Wafer history
  • Equipment Performance Tracking (EPT)
  • Alarms

As a final efficiency enhancement, these objects now share a base class and are more efficient in writing to the database.


Software interlocks are designed to prevent executing an unsafe command. Using multiple levels to do safety checks provides redundancy and reduces the chance an unsafe command could be executed.

Puzzle-pieceThese interlocks are generally based on states and are equipment-dependent. Software interlocks are not a replacement for hardware interlocks. Software interlocks are like a safety net—they are not normally needed, but when they are, there is a much lower risk of damage.
CCF has previously had interlock functionality available. However, in the latest release, the interlock functionality has been consolidated, centralized, and simplified. Using a single interlock class gathers all the interlock code into one location instead of scattering interlock code through all the Components.

Interlocks have been added to each of the CCF samples to show how they work and how they could be implemented in your application.


These are just some of the cool and useful features that have been added to CCF in the last two years since the release of CCF 6.0. To learn more about these features or the other new features that have been added, please schedule a time to talk with a Cimetrix representative.

Contact Us

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, Cimetrix Products