Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

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

How we helped a customer deliver a GEM-compliant equipment using CCF

Posted by Rich Kingsford; Project Manager, CCF Services on Jun 4, 2020 2:30:00 PM

Welcome to the first posting in the Cimetrix CIMControlFramework (CCF) Services blog series! While Cimetrix has been providing professional services for many years, in order to better serve the growing demand from many new equipment maker customers worldwide that have purchased our CCF product, Cimetrix earlier this year formed a new CCF Services group, reporting directly to the CEO. Being a senior developer at Cimetrix for the past 15 years in a variety of positions, I was delighted when asked to lead this group. We have an outstanding team of software engineers highly experienced in factory automation, equipment control software and SEMI standards. We are dedicated to ensuring our customers’ success by providing training, consulting, and developing custom solutions for our CCF customers. We love learning about the myriad ways that companies can integrate CCF with their equipment to meet the material handling and factory automation requirements of their factory customers. Our goal for these articles is to share some of the lessons learned and other implementation insights to help you efficiently build manufacturing equipment that is sophisticated, robust, and productive. To this end, our first posting will deal with one of the most common requests we get – enjoy!

- Forward by Brent Forsgren, Director of CCF Services

How we helped a customer deliver a GEM-compliant equipment using CCF

The Goal

One of our recent customers wanted to build a new type of LED manufacturing equipment that could be controlled by a Factory Host using the standard GEM Remote Commands: PP_SELECT (Process Program Select), START, STOP, ABORT, PAUSE and RESUME. The equipment could be delivered in a variety of physical configurations, including 1-to-multiple source cassettes for product material, and 1-to-multiple process modules. It also had multiple destination cassettes to be filled according to the post-process analysis results. The initial instance of the equipment had 4 loadports (LPs) and four process modules (PMs).

The functional requirements were clear – that was the good news. Now for the rest of the story… the project schedule and budget constraints were closing in, so we needed to work quickly and efficiently with the customer to get it done. Sound familiar?

The Approach

The Cimetrix CCF Services team always works closely with the software team of the equipment manufacturer. In this case, we started with one week of mutual discovery and in-depth hands-on training. Team members were fully engaged and picked up the CCF capabilities very quickly. This included even some of the more advanced features, such as developing a scheduler that would control the components of the customer’s application. We regularly fine tune training modules to 1) introduce CCF concepts, 2) expose common challenges and potential approaches, and 3) provide realistic implementation practice exercises. As anticipated, the customer was able to use the results of the training exercises in the actual equipment control solution. We also kicked off the project with our work-breakdown exercise to more deeply explore the unique requirements for their specific equipment type.

After an intense first week, everyone on the project team concluded that CCF would in fact be a strong match for their needs. CCF features direct integration with our CIMConnect, CIM300, and CIMPortal connectivity products to provide full GEM, GEM300 and EDA compliance. Because the Cimetrix connectivity products are deployed in every semiconductor 300mm factory in the world, our customers can be assured that they will meet their customer’s factory automation requirements. In this application, the end customer’s LED factory only required GEM.

To address requirements that may go beyond the basic GEM standards, CCF also provides support for custom remote commands, data publication, and alarm management. Finally, CCF supports integrating custom hardware devices using CCF’s base Equipment Classes.

To prove all was working, we chose the Cimetrix EquipmentTest product to develop and execute a set of unit tests that emulate communications with the factory software using GEM messages. This was not intended to be a comprehensive set, but rather just enough to show the equipment passed round-trip system testing. In this context, round trip means showing that the equipment can move material from the incoming cassette to the aligner to the process module and back into the cassette. EquipmentTest also supports editing message settings and parameters on the fly to experiment with different configurations of a round-trip test.

The Challenge: “The Host is unavailable, but we need to validate that the equipment is both GEM compliant and accomplishes the communication flows the end user requires.”

We get this challenge a lot… Our customers almost always develop the host interface and the embedded control software in parallel and integrate them later in the project. This makes sense at one level, but it does introduce a “chicken and egg” problem for testing this kind of GEM interface. In particular, how can our customer provide evidence that the solution will work with the factory host without testing with the actual host system? Our answer: apply our EquipmentTest custom plugin capability to simulate the end user’s host so we can validate all necessary communication between host and equipment.

Our protocol validation product, EquipmentTest, makes it possible to simulate communications between an equipment control implementation and the host. And although it is impractical to implement scenarios for every possible interaction, we can create enough representative scenarios to be confident the “happy path” (i.e., no errors) will work and that the interface will handle a large handful of “sad path” cases as well.

CCF-Services-Image1

Outcome

We passed all the tests! “Let’s go get some tacos.”

Specifically, we validated that the communications interface supported…

  • Standard GEM Remote Commands
  • Custom Remote Commands
  • Material tracking
  • Data publication

In closing, we must emphasize that our customer should take most of the credit here. Nevertheless, we enjoyed observing, consulting, and testing the equipment. It is always gratifying to see the CCF solution fit so seamlessly into the hardware, execute its commands with optimal timing, and not break anything in the process! Truly a successful, joint team effort.

If the situation above resonates with your current challenges and past experiences, give us a call. We look forward to working with your software engineering team to speed your time-to-market and deliver a high-quality solution quickly, allowing your team members to focus on developing value-added functionality for your customers.

Topics: Industry Highlights, Equipment Control-Software Products, Doing Business with Cimetrix, GEM300

CCF为实施工厂自动化提供了一条捷径: CCF Gives an Easy Way to Implement Factory Automation

Posted by Yufeng Huang; Software Engineer China on May 10, 2018 11:37:00 AM

Yufeng Huang of Cimetrix China, talks about Equipment Control in the factory. Read now in Chinese or below in English.

在和半导体设备制造公司的接触中我们遇到这么一个尴尬的问题,很多懂得设备控制的优秀软件工程师对于GEM,GEM300和EDA标准不是很有经验。这些公司往往是在设备在实验室研发成功,准备产业化送入客户工厂时发现设备没有实现或只有部分实现GEM/GEM300标准,尤其是当客户工厂要求EDA(Interface A)通信接口的时候,这些设备制造商的软件工程师往往一脸茫然,不知道如何在短时间内开发出完全遵循GEM/GEM300/EDA标准的软件。

对于大多数设备公司而言,限制于有限的人力、财力资源,公司很难聘请到足够多富有经验的工厂自动化软件工程师开发自己的GEM/GEM300,甚至EDA软件模块。另外一个棘手的问题是我们发现很多软件工程师不是特别有意愿加入到半导体行业,而是选择比较热门的互联网、游戏,手机App等软件行业。纵观半导体工厂自动化软件市场,虽然已有多家公司提供GEM/GEM300/EDA的软件开发包(SDK),但软件工程师仍旧需要掌握一定的工厂自动化基础知识才能着手编写软件集成代码。工厂自动化涉及大量SEMI标准,譬如GEM标准大概有450页文档,包括E4,E5E30E37,E37.1,E172,E173,GEM300标准大概有280页文档,包括E39,E40,E87,E90,E94,E116,E157,E148,而更为复杂的EDA标准大概480有页文档,包括E120,E125,E128,E132,E134,E138,E164,对于大多数非专业的工厂自动化软件工程师而言,工厂自动化软件的集成工作是一件极其繁琐而艰难的任务。


Cimetrix Control FrameworkTM (CCF)
是基于微软.Net技术的设备自动化控制软件框架,该软件不仅为设备制造厂商提供了监督控制和生产控制框架代码,而且完全实现了GEM/GEM300/EDA标准。借助CCF软件平台,软件工程师无需深刻掌握工厂自动化的所有SEMI标准,就能轻松变身为工厂自动化开发专家。CCF软件框架内的工厂自动化模块基于Cimetrix公司的CIMConnect,CIM300,CIMPortal Plus三个独立的软件开发套件(SDK)实现,分别对于实现GEM,GEM300,和EDA标准。全球任意一家300mm的芯片制造工厂都有安装了CIM300软件的设备运行,在支持EDA数据采集的工厂都有安装了CIMPortal Plus软件的设备运行。CCF软件框架将所有工厂自动化的开发工作交给Cimetrix公司来完成,设备软件工程师可以把更多的时间花费在如何设计自己的设备控制软件上。

在CCF框架下,CIMConnect/CIM300/CIMPortal Plus的底层API函数都被很好作了封装,软件工程师只需通过CCF框架提供的函数或接口就能轻松实现和工厂主机程序的所有GEM/GEM300标准。实现EDA标准的一个重要任务是创建一个支持分层次结构的设备模型,以及按照标准生成XML数据,此外生成的模型还需满足E164标准。在CCF软件初始化运行时会动态生成设备模型,软件工程师几乎不需要书写EDA代码,设备即可很好的遵循EDA标准。lego brick building is like CCF

采用CCF软件框架降低设备控制程序和工厂自动化程序的开发难度和开发周期,但并不意味着我们的客户一定得推翻自己已有的软件平台或已经测试过的稳定代码。CCF是一个提供源代码的完全开放的自动化控制程序框架,你可以将CCF理解成一个已经拼好的乐高玩具,用户既可以将自己的代码模块集成到CCF中,也可以挑选部分CCF功能模块并将其转移到用户自己的框架中。我们用户将CCF中工厂自动化模块(包括GEM/GEM300/EDA)搬迁到自己的程序框架中,在保证完全遵循工厂自动化诸多SEMI标准的同时,对用户已有程序的影响非常小。

得益于CCF框架的完全开放性,像玩乐高积木一样,软件工程师可以轻松享受自由裁剪自己想要的控制系统框架带来的乐趣,这是其他任何一家提供设备控制软件框架程序的公司都很难做到的一件事情。

在未来几年,越来越多的工厂往智能生产制造的方向发展,由此对数据的需要越来越高,EDA标准越来越成为工厂主流的数据采集方法,CCF无疑成为了设备制造商更快更好实现各种工厂自动化标准的最佳武器。 


We encountered an interesting issue when working with semiconductor equipment manufacturing companies. Many excellent software engineers who know equipment control are not very experienced with the GEM, GEM300, and EDA standards. Sometimes after equipment is successfully developed in the laboratory and before the equipment is shipped to the factory, we discover that the equipment did not implement or only partially implemented the required GEM/GEM300/EDA standard. This is especially prevalent when the factory requires the EDA (Interface A) communication interface. Equipment software engineers sometimes do not know how to develop software that fully complies with GEM/GEM300/EDA standards in a short period of time.

For most equipment companies with limited human and financial resources, it is difficult for the company to have the resources to develop their own GEM/GEM300/EDA software. Another issue is that we have found many of the more experienced software engineers are more interested in high-profile  internet, gaming, mobile phone apps and other software industries rather than the lower profile semiconductor industry.  Although many companies in the semiconductor factory automation software market have provided GEM/GEM300/EDA software development kits (SDKs), software engineers still need to master certain basic knowledge of factory automation to start writing software integration code. Factory automation involves a large number of SEMI standards. For example, the GEM standard has about 450 pages of documents, including E4, E5, E30, E37, E37.1, E172, E173. GEM300 standards have about 280 pages of documents, including E39, E40, E87, E90, E94, E116, E157, E148. The more complex EDA standard has about 480 pages, including E120, E125, E128, E132, E134, E138, E164. For less experienced factory automation software engineers, the integration of automation software can be an extremely tedious and difficult task.

Cimetrix CIMControlFrameworkTM (CCF) is an equipment automation control software framework based on Microsoft .Net technology. This software not only provides equipment manufacturers with supervisory control and equipment control framework code, but also fully implements the GEM, GEM300 and EDA standards. With the help of the CCF software platform, software engineers can easily turn into factory automation development experts without having to master all the factory automation SEMI standards. The factory automation components within the framework of the CCF software are based on CIMConnect, CIM300, and CIMPortal Plus, three independent software development kits (SDKs) from Cimetrix for the implementation of the GEM, GEM300, and EDA standards, respectively. All 300mm chip manufacturing factories in the world have equipment installed which uses CIM300 software. Any factory requiring EDA data collection has equipment installed that uses CIMPortal Plus software. With the CCF software framework, Cimetrix has already done the work of integrating all factory automation into the framework. The equipment software engineer can spend more time on how to develop their own equipment control software.

Under the CCF framework, the underlying API functions of CIMConnect/CIM300/CIMPortal Plus are well encapsulated. Software engineers can easily implement all the GEM/GEM300/EDA standards of the factory host program through the functions or interfaces provided by the CCF framework. An important task in implementing the EDA standard is to create an equipment model that supports hierarchical structures and generate XML data in accordance with standards. In addition, the generated model must also meet the SEMI E164 standard. The equipment model is dynamically generated when the CCF software is initialized. The software engineer needs to do very little to have an equipment control application that is fully compliant with the EDA standard.lego brick building is like CCF

The use of the CCF software framework to reduce the difficulty and development cycle of equipment control programs and factory automation programs does not mean that our clients must replace their existing software platforms or stable code that has been tested. CCF is a fully open automation control program framework that provides source code. You can think of CCF as a LEGO toy that has been put together. Users can either integrate their own code modules into CCF or select some of the CCF functional modules and transfer them to their own framework. Our clients can reuse the factory automation modules (including GEM/GEM300/EDA) in CCF in their own program frameworks. While ensuring that all SEMI standards for factory automation are fully complied with. The impact on the user's existing programs is minimal.

Thanks to the complete openness of the CCF framework, like LEGO bricks, software engineers can easily enjoy the freedom of tailoring the control system framework that they want. It is hard for any company that provides an equipment control software framework program to implement such a rich library of functions. 

In the next few years, more and more factories will move in the direction of smart manufacturing. As a result, the demand for data is getting higher and higher. EDA standards are increasingly becoming the factory's mainstream data collection method. CCF will undoubtedly become the best weapon for equipment manufacturers to quickly and completely implement the various factory automation standards.

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, Equipment Control-Software Products, Cimetrix Products

Equipment Control Logging Benefits

Posted by Derek Lindsey: Product Manager on Mar 8, 2018 11:02:00 AM

markets-timber-logging.jpg

Equipment control applications are highly complex and have many moving parts that require a high level of coordination. Because of the high degree of difficulty, problems are bound to crop up. Sometimes the problems are related to a hardware issue. Sometimes the problems are caused by operator error. Sometimes problems are timing related. Sometimes problems happen infrequently. Regardless of the frequency or the cause of the errors, how do you go about debugging issues that happen in the field if you are unable to attach a debugger to the application?
 
The answer is logging.

As part of the CIMControlFramework (CCF) product for creating equipment control applications, Cimetrix developed a logging package. Our logging package has two parts – collecting the log messages and analysis of the messages.

The logging package allows you to assign a source and a type for each log message. The source specifies where the log message originated. The type is a category that can be used to route the log 

messages to specific output locations called log sinks. We have found the most useful log sink to be a text-based log file. The logging package can be configured for the types of messages to log. It can also be configured for how long to keep log files and how many to keep. This helps keep hard drives from getting too full.

logging.bmp

The temptation for many users is to enable all log messages while developing the equipment control application and then turn all the logging off when the equipment ships to the factory. Cimetrix recommends leaving as much logging enabled as possible. This will help you avoid trips to the fab when a problem arises that can be solved via the logging package. Some clients worry about resource usage by the logging package. We have found that the impact of the logging package is light enough that it is advantageous to leave it on all the time.

The Cimetrix logging package was such a success in CCF, that we have started using the logging package in all Cimetrix products. The logging package has earned rave reviews from Cimetrix product users. Here are a few quick examples that show how valuable logging is:

1. An OEM customer called in a panic because because an end user was withholding payment due to a timing/throughput issue in the application. Together Cimetrix and the OEM reviewed the log file. Using some of the LogViewer analysis tools we were able to isolate and identify the problem within 30 minutes. The OEM was able to confidently tell the end user that they had found the problem and a fix would be available within the next software release. Because the OEM was able to support them so quickly remotely, the end user had confidence in the OEM and released the payment.

2. At Cimetrix, we often hear, “This only happened once, but…” With logging always enabled, it is possible to diagnose problems after the fact. This is especially important for problems which occur infrequently. Users of the Cimetrix logging package are able to resolve issues that happen only rarely.

3. Occasionally an equipment control application will deadlock – two different modules are waiting on each other and neither is free to proceed. Using the LogViewer’s Callstacks plug-in, in conjunction with the Timing Chart plug-in, make the process of diagnosing the deadlock much easier.

logging-1.png

4. An end user called up their OEM equipment provider because the software stopped unexpectedly. They wanted to OEM to put someone on a plane immediately to come diagnose the problem. The OEM was able to view the log file to see that an operator had stopped the tool without the supervisor realizing it. When asked, the operator confirmed he had stopped the tool. Crisis averted. No plane ride required by the OEM to satisfy their customer!

5. A client came to Cimetrix for a training class. This client brought in a contractor to attend the class as well. Part of the Cimetrix training was used to review the logging package. During a break in the training, the contractor approached the instructor and asked if he could purchase the logging package separately for use in his other contracts because he could see several applications that would benefit from the power of the logging package.

6. Cimetrix is continuing to add useful plug-ins to the LogViewer. We recently added an E84 (automated material handling system) plug-in to assist in implementing and debugging material transfer. LogViewer allows users to implement their own custom plug-ins for analyzing data important to them.

logging-2.png

These are just some of the success stories we have heard about in relation to the logging package. With equipment control applications and factory automation, there will always be issues to be addressed and opportunities to root cause unexpected behavior. Having a powerful logging package makes that process much easier.

 

Topics: Equipment Control-Software Products, Customer Support, Cimetrix Products

CCF Series Wrap-up

Posted by Derek Lindsey: Product Manager on Apr 12, 2017 11:00:00 AM

One of the habits outlined in Stephen R. Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is to "Begin with the End in Mind." He goes on to explain that beginning with the end in mind means to "begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.”

Beginning an equipment control project with a clear vision of your desired destination makes it much more likely that you will have a successful project. A blog post titled CIMControlFramework Work Breakdown dated March 15, 2016 outlined the tasks necessary to create a first-class equipment control application using CIMControlFramework (CCF). Since that initial blog post, Cimetrix has explored each of the tasks labeled in the work breakdown structure in greater depth in their own blog posts as follows:

Looking back from the successful completion of a CCF equipment control application makes it clear that the work breakdown vision from the beginning helped gain that success.

You can also reference the following blog posts related to CimControlFramework:

CIMControlFramework Dynamic Model Creation

Learning from Others

Build vs. Buy

WCF and CIMControlFramework

To learn more about CCF, visit the CIMControlFramework page on our website!

Topics: Equipment Control-Software Products, Cimetrix Products

Testing Your CCF Application without Waiting for Hardware

Posted by Brent Forsgren on Mar 29, 2017 11:26:00 AM

You've heard the expression, “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” That is, you shouldn't be surprised if you end up destroying a few things in the process of achieving your goal. When it comes to building a new piece of equipment, do you really want to risk breaking a few wafers, or worse yet, hurting personnel or equipment, to develop your new tool control software? I think everyone would answer with a resounding “No!”
In the March 2016 blog post on CIMControlFramework Work Breakdown, simulation was listed as one of the eleven points to be taken into consideration when developing an equipment control application using CIMControlFramework (CCF). In addition to personnel and hardware safety, there are other reasons to use simulation when developing equipment control applications, namely:

  • You want to start testing your software as early as possible, often this is before your equipment is finished. Then when your equipment is ready, integrating your tested software with your hardware will proceed smoothly and minimize delays in your time to market.

  • If you have an existing tool and you’re upgrading your tool control software, scheduling software testing time while still allowing other engineering teams (mechanical, process, etc.) to get their jobs done is challenging.

  • The hardware components that comprise your tool, e.g. robots, load locks, and process modules, will not be finished at the same time. You want to test your software with real hardware as soon as possible, while still simulating the missing equipment components.

  • Tool time is valuable. It's nice to be able to test your software without using the valuable tool time where possible.

  • It is likely that your tool will have more than one configuration, customized for each of your clients. Setting up different hardware configurations in order to develop and test your tool control software is time consuming. You want to be able to test your software for all of your equipment configurations in timely manner.

Wafer_tool-CCF-Simulator.jpgCCF provides a simulator that you can use to test your tool control software during development, and before you run the software on the real hardware. Running against a simulator first will expose issues in your software without damaging people, material and hardware. CCF’s simulator simulates real hardware, which means it is not necessary to add conditional checks in your software to check when it is running with a simulator versus real hardware.

CCF’s simulator features include:

  • Simulation of atmospheric and vacuum hardware components, e.g. load locks, vacuum pumps, vacuum gauges, etc.

  • Simulating delivery and removal of carriers to load ports, both manually and automatically using E84 handshaking.

  • Simulation of robot moves for both atmospheric and vacuum robots.

  • Simulation of I/O.

  • Simulation of hardware faults, to safely test error handling.

  • Simulate running single jobs or cycling wafers for endurance testing.

Additionally, CCF provides other tools to help you test your software without hardware.  CCF provides a Visual Studio template, and a number of classes and interfaces to aid you in developing simulation software for your process module or other custom hardware. Use the Visual Studio template to start development of GUI user controls for simulated hardware. Implement CCF’s I/O simulation interfaces for generating inputs to your tool control software and writing outputs to your simulated hardware. Tie the two sides together using CCF’s simulation client and server to handle the communication.

With these CCF tools, you can develop and test your tool control software without hardware. When hardware is available, you can test your software with your tool with a high degree of confidence that it will perform as expected.

Avoid “breaking a few eggs” and develop your tool control software with CCF and test it using CCF simulation features.

To learn more about CCF, visit the CIMControlFramework page on our website!

Topics: Equipment Control-Software Products, Cimetrix Products

Using CCF I/O Helper Functionality

Posted by David Warren: Director of Software Engineering on Mar 14, 2017 12:00:00 PM

“Can you hear me now?”

A Cimetrix blog post on March 15, 2016 entitled “CIMControlFramework Work Breakdown”mentions that CIMControlFramework (CCF) includes ASCII serial drivers and IO providers.  What does that mean and why should you care?

Factory Automation Software
Equipment automation is all about creating software that controls hardware—combining individual components into a harmonious whole, with each piece playing its own unique part.  A critical aspect of control is the ability to communicate—and that is where CCF’s ASCII serial driver and IO providers can help you create your equipment application.

The .NET Framework, like many software development platforms, provides built-in support for serial ports and TCP/IP ports.  This built-in support is great for low-level, binary communication, but hardware devices often just need a simple ASCII connection.  For such hardware, CCF’s ASCII serial driver frees you from worrying about the connection and the underlying implementation.  You can focus on the content of the message instead of the mechanics of delivery.  It’s like using a telephone—you want to focus on the conversation rather than worrying about how the sounds are transmitted between the phones. 

Another common class of hardware uses signals to communicate.  These signals can be as simple as only having two possible values (think “on” and “off”) or having a range of values, like a temperature.  Each signal also has a direction—it is either an input or an output.  For input signals, the value is determined by the hardware and read by the software.  Output signal values are determined by the software and sent to the hardware.  For example, control software might use an output signal to turn a light on and off, and an input signal from a photocell to verify the light is on or off.  This class of hardware is called I/O (short for input/output) devices and is supported by CCF.

CCF includes support for communicating with ASCII serial and I/O devices to make your job easier.  Don’t spend your time and effort asking the hardware “Can you hear me now?”  Use CCF and focus on combining the parts into the harmonious whole. 

To learn more about CCF, visit the CIMControlFramework page on our website!

Topics: Equipment Control-Software Products, Cimetrix Products

Storing Data in a CCF application

Posted by Derek Lindsey: Product Manager on Mar 8, 2017 1:00:00 PM

In Sir Arthur Conon Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia, Sherlock Holmes tells Watson, “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

In a March 2016 blog post on CCF work breakdown Cimetrix listed eleven points to be taken into consideration when starting an equipment control application using CIMControlFramework (CCF). One of the tasks in the work breakdown is to determine what kind of data collection and storage is to be used in your CCF application and determine how that data is to be stored.

User_Interface_Sm_CCF_1-5-17.jpg

CCF provides several mechanisms for collecting and storing data. These include:

  • History Objects

  • Full GEM Interface

  • Full EDA/Interface A Interface

  • Centralized DataServer

The remainder of this blog post will look at each of these items in more detail.

History Objects

In early iterations of CCF, users noticed when using logging, there were certain messages that they wanted to be able to query without the overhead of having to search all log messages. To help accommodate this need, History objects were introduced. Some examples of these objects in CCF are EPT History, Wafer History and Alarm History. When an important event happens in the life of a history object, a log message is written to a database table (configured during CCF installation) that corresponds to that type of object. That database table can be queried for the specific historical information for only that type of data. 

Full GEM/GEM 300 Interface

As described in a CCF blog post from February 15, 2017, CCF comes standard with a fully implemented GEM and GEM 300 interface. The GEM standards allow users to set up trace and event reports for the collection of GEM data. No additional programming is required by the application developer to have access to the GEM data collection.

Full EDA/Interface A Interface

The same blog post of February 15th also states that CCF comes standard with a fully implemented Freeze II and E164 compliant EDA interface. EDA can be used to set up data collection plans based on Events, Exceptions and Traces. With the E157 standard and conditional trace triggers, EDA makes it easy to zero in on the data you want without having to collect all data and then sift through it later.

Centralized DataServer

In order to create, initialize, populate and pass data, CCF uses a centralized DataServer object. The DataServer is responsible for creating the dynamic EDA equipment modelas well as populating CIMConnect with Status Variables, Data Variables, Collection Events and Alarms. All this is done at tool startup so that the data available exactly matches the tool that is in use.

Data is routed to the DataServer which then updates the appropriate client – such as EDA, GEM or the Operator Interface. An equipment control application can register to receive an event from the data server when data changes. Users can key off of this event to capture that data and route it to a database as desired. Since all tool manufacturers have different requirements for which database to use and how data is written to that database, CCF leaves the actual SQL (or equivalent) commands for writing the data to the equipment application developer.

With CCF Data collection and storage is … Elementary.

To learn more about CCF, visit the CIMControlFramework page on our website!

Topics: SECS/GEM, EDA/Interface A, Equipment Control-Software Products, Cimetrix Products

CCF Provides Fully Implemented GEM300 and EDA Interfaces

Posted by Bill Grey: Distinguished Software Engineer on Feb 15, 2017 1:00:00 PM

What does this mean and why should I care?

The SEMI standards for 300mm Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment can be an overwhelming burden of information to understand, let alone implement.

The GEM standards comprise over 450 pages of documentation: E4, E5, E30, E37, E37.1, E172, E173.

The 300mm standards add another 280 pages: E39, E40, E87, E90, E94, E116, E157, E148.

And the EDA standards pile on an additional 480 pages: E120, E125, E128, E132, E134, E138, E164.

That’s over 1200 pages of standards documents filled with requirements and implementation information. 

On top of that GEM and EDA collect data differently from the equipment.  See a post we did on data collection for more information on those differences.

Implementing the requirements defined in those standards without an SDK would be a very brave undertaking.  Even with SDKs for the standards, it would be a fair amount of work, when all you really want to do is get your equipment automated.

In addition, it is very important that those standards be implemented correctly in order for your equipment to be smoothly integrated and accepted into each fab.  Different fabs use the standards slightly differently or have additional requirements.   This requires experience.

GEM300 and EDA standards implementation is a very large burden.

semi standards difficult burden

So what does this mean?

One of the large tasks for the EDA standards is defining a hierarchical model of the equipment and what data it can produce in XML per the schemas defined in the standards.   Creating the initial model and keeping it up to date as the equipment evolves is a tedious task.  In addition, that model must be conformant to the E164 standard (which has over 10 pages of requirements on its own).   See our blog post on conformance testing. CCF does this for you, producing an E164 compliant EDA model in the background based on your CCF programming. See our blog post on CCF dynamic model creation further details.  CCF also builds the GEM interface model for you at the same time.

Further, CCF is completely GEM compliant and 300mm compliant, using the Cimetrix CIMConnect and CIM300 products which have been successfully deployed in every 300mm fab around the world on many different equipment types.

Twelve hundred pages of standards, compliantly implemented, at no additional effort.  That is what this means.

Turn that donkey into a goat and use CCF.

To learn more about CCF, visit the CIMControlFramework page on our website!

 

Topics: SECS/GEM, Equipment Control-Software Products, Cimetrix Products

Implementing your Process Module Using CCF

Posted by Tim Hutchison: Senior Software Engineer on Feb 9, 2017 12:30:00 PM

You have designed the ultimate process that will revolutionize the semiconductor industry.  The parts have been collected, the process module assembled.   But now you need the software to make all the components work together.

As described in a recent CIMControlFramework (CCF) blog post around designing recipes, the recipe is the secret sauce for your process.  The recipe is used to direct the hardware to perform the process; How much time in a step, temperature, gas flow, pressure, etc.

The recipe provides directions to the process module on how to perform the processing.  How and when to enable/disable hardware components.  What setpoints to be set for components.  How much time to spend on any given step.  The process module (PM) software that you develop will take the recipe that you have defined and perform the operations using that recipe. CCF stays out of your way to allow to create your secret sauce.  

CCF makes integrating your process module easy.  CCF provides a simple process module interface that allows CCF to know when to prepare for processing, prepare for transfer, and process using the supplied recipe.

 Your process module hardware may be made up of any number and types hardware components, E.g.  Mass Flow Controller(s), valves, chuck, etc. that will be used to process the recipe. Since CCF does not use proprietary interfaces and does use C# and Visual Studio, creating interfaces to your hardware is much easier and left to you to design and develop these drivers. CCF makes it easy to connect to your hardware, whether it is via a PLC or talking directly to the hardware. 

CCF makes it incredibly simple to report data to a UI, a GEM host and even an EDA client.  Declare your status variable, update, and publish.  The data is reported to all three for you automatically!!

CCF takes the stress out of the necessary evil of moving material through the equipment to get it to your process module. It provides an interface for interacting with your process module allowing you to spend your time where it matters most - creating your secret sauce to help make you successful!

To learn more about CCF, visit the CIMControlFramework page on our website!

Topics: Semiconductor Industry, Equipment Control-Software Products, Cimetrix Products