Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

SMTA International is Going Virtual and Cimetrix will be There!

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Sep 23, 2020 11:45:00 AM

SMTAI2020-Masthead2

We are once again gearing up for a virtual show next week! SMTA International is going to be held virtually 28-30 September, 2020. We are excited to be exhibiting at this show for the first time! SMTA International (or Surface Mount Technology Association International) was established in 1984 and is a non-profit international association of companies and individuals involved in all aspects of the electronics industry. The association brings together a professional network of process engineers, executives, project managers, designers and technologists who are shaping the future of the electronics assembly industry.

For the first virtual SMTAi Conference, anyone can register for a free expo pass that also includes the Live Electronics Expo, (Mon-Wed 9/28 – 9/30), the Student and Young Professionals Program (Tues PM 9/29), the Women’s Leadership Program (Wed PM 9/20) and much more.

Cimetrix will have a virtual booth that will me manned by product experts throughout the 3-day expo. We will have live demo times available by reservation (you can sign up now or during the show!). We will also have videos and documentation that features our products and services.

Cimetrix Sapience® will be showcased at SMTAi. Sapience is a smart factory platform to seamlessly connect varying factory equipment within a single event-driven framework. The Sapience platform provides rapid-deployment tools for factories to mine the treasure trove of data available from shop floor equipment, driving actionable insights for optimal decision-making.

We would love to “see” you at the virtual SMTAi Conference next week! Be sure to stop by our booth and talk to us! There will be private chat and voice/video conferencing available from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm CT during the expo and we’d love to meet up and talk about your needs!

Schedule a Demo

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

SEMICON Taiwan 2020 is happening next week!

Posted by Kimberly Daich; Director of Marketing on Sep 15, 2020 6:00:00 PM

SEMICON Taiwan 2020 is coming soon and our Taiwan team will be there! You can read about it now in Traditional Chinese or below in English

semicon-taiwan-top-banner

SEMICON Taiwan將是SEMI的第一個全面的實體虛擬活動。這與Cimetrix的業務完全吻合,我們將在智能製造大廳的K3068號展位展出。

我們知道今年是史無前例的,許多人將無法前往台灣。但是,我們想邀請所有能夠參加展會的人前來參觀,看看Cimetrix的新功能! 您也可以在演出前隨時與我們安排會議)!

Cimetrix將在SEMICON Taiwan上展示我們的最新產品和尖端技術。這包括我們的設備控制平台演示,EDA產品以及GEM連接性和一致性測試產品。我們還將能夠提供有關SEMI標準和SEMI技術的一些最新更改的更新。

我們也很高興宣布今年的演講嘉賓:我們的新產品創新副總裁艾倫·韋伯(Alan Weber)和我們的台灣總經理李孟修(Michael Lee)將就“半導體智能製造:業務驅動器,技術的不斷發展的紐帶和標準”發表演講。於924日星期四上午11:30會見專家展位(J3146

祝大家安全健康地進行展覽。儘管我們的許多全球團隊都會錯過此次展會,但我們的台灣團隊和合作夥伴將隨時準備回答您的所有問題。我們希望看到你在那裡!

Meet with Us


semicon-taiwan-top-banner

SEMICON Taiwan will be SEMI’s first comprehensive physical-virtual event, and will take place during September 23-25 at TaiNEX 1 (Nangang Exhibition Center) in Taipei, Taiwan with the theme “Leading the Smart Future.” This is perfectly aligned with the business of Cimetrix, and we will exhibit in the Smart Manufacturing hall at booth K3068.

We know this year is unprecedented and many will not be able to travel to Taiwan. However, we would like to invite everyone who is able to attend the show to stop by and see what’s new with Cimetrix! (You can also schedule a meeting with us at any time before the show)!

Cimetrix will showcase our latest products and cutting-edge technologies during SEMICON Taiwan. This includes our equipment control platform demonstrations, EDA products and GEM connectivity and compliance testing products. We will also be able to give updates on some of the latest changes to the SEMI Standards and SEMI technologies.

We are also excited to announce our speaker this year: Alan Weber, our VP of New Product Innovations, and Michael Lee, our General Manager in Taiwan, will speak on the topic of “Semiconductor Smart Manufacturing: An Evolving Nexus of Business Drivers, Technologies, and Standards” at the SEMI Meet the Experts Booth (J3146) on Thursday, September 24 at 11:30 a.m.

We wish everyone a safe and healthy exhibition. While many of our worldwide team will miss being at the show, our Taiwan team and our partners will be available and ready to answer all your questions. We hope to see you there!

Meet with Us

 

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

Building a Panel Tool for a Customer using CCF

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

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

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

Building-panel-tool-1

Process Module Operation Screen

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

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

Building-panel-tool-2

Partial FOUP grouping to create a single batch

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

E90 substrate reading in the Panel solution

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

Different Panel Types

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Contact Us

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

Summer 2020 North America DDA Task Force Report

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Aug 12, 2020 10:45:00 AM

Background

The SEMI North America Diagnostic Data Acquisition (DDA) task force is part of the North America Information and Control Committee (I&CC or NA I&CC). This year the meeting that is normally held in conjunction with SEMICON West was held on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, and continued its activities in developing important SEMI standards. As co-leader of the NA DDA task force, I offer this blog as a summary of the current task force activities.

Freeze 3 Status

The primary responsibility of the DDA task force is the suite of Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA) standards, sometimes referred to as “Interface A.” Currently there are two version sets of EDA standards known as “Freeze 1” and “Freeze 2” which are both based on SOAP/XML over HTTP. The current activities are focused on defining the next EDA set (already designated “Freeze 3”) which is based on a binary protocol gRPC over HTTP. This technology, along with a number of other changes, promises to dramatically increase data collection throughput capacity.

Here is what has been completed so far:

Standard (Ballot)

Ballot Status

Lead

E132 (6337) – Client Authorization and Authentication

Published - 04/29/2019

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)

E138 (6336) – Specification for XML Semiconductor Common Components

Published - 03/15/2019

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)

E134 (6335) – Data Collection Management

Published – 03/29/2019

Inhyeok Paek (Link Genesis)

E120 (6434) – Common Equipment Model (CEM)

Published – 05/30/2019

Inna Skvortsova (SEMI)

E145 (6436) – Classification for Measurement Unit Symbols in XML

Published – 05/31/2019

Inna Skvortsova (SEMI)

E178 (6300) – Guide for EDA Freeze Version

Published – 01/10/2020

Mitch Sakamoto (ZAMA)

E179 (6344A) – Specification for Protocol Buffers Common Components

Published – 03/27/2020

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

 

Current Ballot Activity

The bulk of the “Freeze 3” work is still under active development. Here is a summary of the ballot activity as of the start of the meeting on Tuesday.

Standard (Ballot)

Ballot Status

Lead

E125 (6527B) – Equipment Self Description (EqSD)

Adjudication

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)
Hyungsu Kim (Doople)

E132 (6571B) – Client Authorization and Authentication

Adjudication

Mitch Sakamoto (ZAMA)
Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

E134 (6553B) – Data Collection Management

Adjudication

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)

E164 – EDA Common Metadata

Development

Alan Weber (Cimetrix)
Note – separate 5yr reapproval ballot started

E125.2 (6345) – gRPC Binding for Equipment Self Description (EqSD)

Development

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

E132.2 (6346C) – gRPC Binding for Client Authorization and Authentication

Adjudication

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

E134.2 (6347) – gRPC Binding for Data Collection Management

Development

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

 

All of the ballots failed and will be reworked for Cycle 7 voting later this year. However, this was not unexpected, and a great of useful feedback was gathered in the process.

Getting Involved

For those interested in participating, it is easy to join SEMI standards activities. Anyone can register at www.semi.org/standardsmembership.

All SEMI task force ballot activities are logged at: http://downloads.semi.org/web/wstdsbal.nsf/TFOFandSNARFsbyCommittee?OpenView&Start=1&Count=1000&ExpandView

After joining the standards activities, anyone can get involved. The task forces post everything on the connected @ SEMI website https://connect.semi.org/home. The North America DDA task force community is called “Diagnostic Data Acquisition Task Force - North America”.

To find out more about the semi standards, or to speak with a standards expert, click the button below:

Ask an Expert

Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry

Summer 2020 North America ABFI Task Force Report

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Aug 5, 2020 11:00:00 AM

Background

The SEMI North America Advanced Backend Factory Integration (ABFI) task force is part of the North America Information and Control Committee (I&CC or NA I&CC). Normally this task force meets every July in San Francisco as part of SEMICON West. However, this year the technical committee meetings are spread out over several weeks and do not coincide directly with the exhibition. Additionally, the I&CC did not meet at all because SEMI regulations do not currently allow TC Chapter (Committee) voting in virtual meetings. That will hopefully change later this year, but for now delays SEMI standards development.

Regardless of these challenges, the ABFI task force did meet on Monday July 13, 2020 and continues to develop SEMI standards. I am co-leader of the NA ABFI task force along with Dave Huntley of PDF Solutions. This blog is a summary of the current task force activities.

Wafer Maps

Ballot 6648 to update to the SEMI E142 (Specification for Substrate Mapping) specification has passed initial voting and is recommended to be accepted and published. This ballot significantly enhances the amount of traceability data that may be embedded within wafer maps.

Additional Wafer Map Activity

Because wafer maps will potentially be much larger with additional traceability data, they could be too large for the messages currently defined in the E142.2 standard. A new activity has been started to modify wafer map usage further and to allow Stream 21 messages to be used for wafer map transfer. The stream 21 message in the SECS-II standard can be used to transfer very large items through a GEM interface.

SEMI Standard Usage Matrix for Backend

The ABFI task force is also defining a matrix that specifies which standards beyond GEM (E30), SECS-II (E5), HSMS (E37) and Substrate Mapping (E142) should be used for backend automation, and under what conditions they should be used. This includes consideration of the full suite of GEM 300 standards and other standards that all GEM interfaces should consider, such as SEDD (E172) and SMN (E173).

Getting Involved

For those interested in participating, it is easy to join SEMI standards activities. Anyone can register at www.semi.org/standardsmembership.

All SEMI task force ballot activities are logged at http://downloads.semi.org/web/wstdsbal.nsf/TFOFandSNARFsbyCommittee?OpenView&Start=1&Count=1000&ExpandView

After joining the standards activities, anyone can get involved. The task forces post everything on the connected @ SEMI website https://connect.semi.org/home. The North America ABFI task force does not have a community.

To learn more about the standards, or to speak with a standards expert, click on the button below:

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Topics: Industry Highlights, Semiconductor Industry, Standards

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

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

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

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

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

-Bob Reback, President and CEO

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

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

Contact

 

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

Cimetrix 2020 Annual Shareholder Meeting is Postponed

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

To our Cimetrix shareholders,

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Bob Reback
President and Chief Executive Officer

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

Topics: Industry Highlights, Doing Business with Cimetrix

Summer 2020 North America GEM 300 Task Force Report

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Jul 22, 2020 10:45:00 AM

Background

The SEMI North America GEM 300 task force is part of the North America Information and Control Committee (I&CC or NA I&CC). Normally this task force meets in San Francisco as part of SEMICON West. However, this year the technical committee meetings are spread over several weeks and don’t coincide directly with SEMICON West. Additionally, the I&CC did not meet at all because SEMI regulations do not currently allow TC Chapter (Committee) voting in virtual meetings. That will hopefully change later this year, but for now inhibits the pace of SEMI standards development.

However, the GEM 300 task force did meet on Monday July 13, 2020, and continues to develop SEMI standards. I am co-leader of the NA GEM 300 task force, along with Chris Maloney from Intel. This blog is a summary of the current task force activities.

Pre-Meeting Summary

The table below contains a summary of the worldwide activities related to the GEM 300 task force as of the start of this summer’s meeting. There are corresponding task forces in the Japan and South Korea regions which are also active.

Region

Ballot

Standard(s)

Status

Topic

South Korea

5832

New

Cycle 5, 2020

Generic Counter

North America

6348

E30

Published

SEMI style/regulation conformance

North America

6572

E30

Development

Add Stream 21, Cleanup Process Program Management.

North America

6552

E5

Cycle 5, 2020

Data collection setup, terminology

North America

6598

E37, E37.1

Cycle 5, 2020

Standardize TCP/IP port numbers

North America

6597

E173

Adjudication Pending

Minor updates, clarification

Awaiting I&CC adjudication from cycle 2, 2020 voting (no negatives) and the task force recommendation from Spring 2020.

North America

6647

E116

Development

Recommendations from the ABFI task force

 

Current Ballot Activity

Two ballots were adjudicated during the most recent GEM 300 task force meeting. For those of you new to the standards development process, the term “adjudication” means that we review the results of the voting and recommend handling of all negative votes and comments received. The recommendations by the task force are then presented to and finalized at the committee level. Since the North America I&CC did not meet, the failed and super-clean ballots are being transferred to other regions (probably Taiwan) for further processing. Passed ballots with any negatives or comments are put on hold until NA I&CC meets so that the merits of the comments and overridden negatives can be evaluated.

6552A E5

This ballot modifies the E5 SECS-II standard. The ballot included three line-items, each of which is voted on separately

  1. This is the most exciting activity in this ballot because it will give GEM host software much better tools for managing and testing GEM data collection. The first line item proposed adding several new messages to the E5 standard including a message to:
    1. Query the list of defined report identifiers
    2. Query report definitions
    3. Query a list of event report links
    4. Query the list of enabled events (this could already be done using Status Variable EventsEnabled)
    5. Query the list of streams and functions configured for spooling
    6. Query the list of defined trace identifiers
    7. Query trace definitions
  1.  
  2. Establish proper definitions for status variables, data variables and equipment constants. Additionally, deprecate the usage of the data item “DVNAME” which has generated confusion for years since it means a data variable identifier and not a data variable name.
  3. Clarify the usage of message S7F17/F18. This message allows deletion of one or more recipes, but only returns a single acknowledgement code. The new clarification defines what to expect when an error is returned.

Each of the line items had at least one comment or negative; therefore, none was super-clean. The GEM 300 task force decided to pass line items 1 and 3, but fail line item 2.

6598A E37

The primary purpose of this ballot is to clarify some confusing text related to the T8 timer. Additionally, there are other improvements related to recommended settings. The GEM 300 task force decided to fail this ballot.

New Ballot Activity

Here is a summary of the next set of ballots to expect from the NA GEM 300 task force planned to be presented for Cycle 7 voting later this year.

Ballot

Specification

Description

6552B

E5

A rework of ballot 6552A line item #2, which is described above.

6598B

E37

A rework of ballot 6598A described above.

6647

E116

Recommendations from the ABFI task force to allow the GEM host to declare scheduled/unscheduled down time and for the equipment to declare an Engineering mode. This will allow E116 to map better to E10.

6572

E30

A major change to the GEM standard to officially allow usage of Stream 21 for large unformatted recipes and E172 SEDD files, deprecation of some little used recipe alternatives like E42, implementation of the new E5 messages from ballot 6552A line item #1, and several other enhancements.

Note that the ballot number will be changing due to a late scope change.

?

E148

Upgrade NTP from version 3 to version 4.

 

Getting Involved

For those interested in participating, it is easy to join SEMI standards activities. Anyone can register at www.semi.org/standardsmembership.

All SEMI task force ballot activities are logged at http://downloads.semi.org/web/wstdsbal.nsf/TFOFandSNARFsbyCommittee?OpenView&Start=1&Count=1000&ExpandView

After joining the standards activities, anyone can get involved. The task forces post everything on the connected @ SEMI website https://connect.semi.org/home. The North America GEM 300 task force community is called “GEM 300 Task Force - North America”.

To find out more about SEMI Standards, GEM300, or to talk to standards expert, click the button below. 

Ask an Expert

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, GEM300

Semiconductor Backend Processes: Additional SEMI Standards Related to GEM

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Jul 9, 2020 11:30:00 AM

Background

In a few previous blogs I shared how the relatively new SEMI Advanced Backend Factory Integration (ABFI) task force in North America has already decided to promote the adoption of the GEM standard and selective adoption of the GEM300 equipment communication standards. In this blog I will summarize the task force’s plans to consider adoption of additional SEMI information and control standards that are complementary to GEM and GEM300.

Additional SEMI Standards for the Backend Consideration

Many of the standards listed below were developed a few years after GEM300 but are now considered to be part of the modern GEM300 set.

SEMI Designation

Standard Name

E84

Specification for Enhanced Carrier Handoff Parallel I/O Interface

E116

Specification for Equipment Performance Tracking

E116.1

Specification for SECS-II Protocol for Equipment Performance Tracking (EPT)

E142

Specification for Substrate Mapping

E142.1

Specification for XML Schema for Substrate Mapping

E142.2

Specification for SECS-II Protocol for Substrate Mapping

E148

Specification for Time Synchronization and Definition of the TS-Clock Object

E157

Specification for Module Process Tracking

E172

Specification for SECS Equipment Data Dictionary (SEDD)

E173

Specification for XML SECS-II Message Notation (SMN)

 

E84 Carrier Handoff

E84 Carrier Handoff is the only standard in this list that not a GEM standard because it deals with a separate parallel I/O interface. This interface is completely independent of GEM, although it is coordinated with E87 Carrier Management when both are supported. However, since E84 Carrier Handoff is often included in the GEM300 discussions and requirements, it is worth discussing here because it is a standard that the Backend industry should selectively adopt.

GEM-Backend-2-1

The E84 standard defines the handshake signals for use in a parallel I/O (PIO) interface to automate carrier delivery and carrier removal. The automated material handling system (AMHS) might use either an automated guided vehicle (AGV) or overhead transport (OHT) system, yet either way, the material is delivered in a carrier. E84 is widely used and accepted in every semiconductor wafer fab (front end) and an obvious choice for backend manufacturing when delivering carriers.

E116 Specification for Equipment Performance Tracking

E116 Equipment Performance Tracking was discussed in an earlier blog since there are plans to update this specification to better support backend operations. E116 is applicable to any manufacturing equipment in any industry because it is largely based on SEMI E10 principles which define generic terms for measuring any equipment’s reliability, availability and maintainability. As a bonus, each major component in the equipment can also be modelled to track its productivity.

E142 Specification for Substrate Mapping

E142 Substrate Mapping and its subordinate standards (E142.1 XML Schema for Substrate Mapping and E142.2 SECS-II Protocol for Substrate Mapping) define generic substrate maps and how to transfer them to and from an equipment through a GEM interface. Substrate maps are two dimensional arrays of data that correspond to a physical substrate—which may be a wafer, strip or tray. The map defines the dimensions of the substrate, significant locations on the substrate, and can include data about the locations (such as a numbering scheme for unambiguously identifying specific locations). For example, E142 can be used to tag “known good” devices on a substrate.

Some equipment types require a substrate map before processing can proceed. Some equipment can generate substrate maps. And some equipment both require a substrate map before processing and generate an updated substrate map after processing is completed. In E142, the substrate map is expressed in an XML file that conforms with the E142 XML schema. A lot of backend equipment need substrate maps for normal operation, so E142 is an obvious choice. Note that E142 is currently undergoing some interesting improvements via the ABFI task force to store additional data needed to address enhanced traceability requirements.

Substrate mapping is an excellent demonstration of horizontal communication implemented using GEM. Horizontal communication is when data is shared directly from one equipment to another equipment. Traditionally, horizontal communication in GEM is implemented indirectly; one equipment passes data to the host and then the host passes that data on to the equipment that needs it. In this sense, the GEM host acts as a type of broker between units of equipment.

There are significant advantages in using this indirect style of horizontal communication. For example, Equipment A might inspect a substrate, generate a substrate map and send it to the host. Equipment B might later request the substrate map from the host.

GEM-backend-2-2The benefit of using a GEM host between the equipment to realize this use case is that both Equipment A and Equipment B are only required to implement GEM—which they should be doing anyway. The equipment are not required to support additional protocols and/or custom message sequences, or to be tested against specific equipment interfaces. If each equipment follows the GEM standard, they can all be integrated into the factory system and share data through the GEM host.

E148 Specification for Time Synchronization and Definition of the TS-Clock Object

A lot of data collected in the factory is only useful when properly timestamped. Moreover, timestamps can only be compared among data from multiple sources when those timestamps are synchronized. This is where SEMI E148 enters the picture.

The E148 Time Synchronization specification requires equipment to support the industry standard Network Time Protocol (NTP) and share information about its implementation. And NTP software synchronizes computer clocks.

Because the backend industry segment is trending towards more and more data collection, it is critical to have proper timestamping for that data, and therefore time synchronization for its sources. A full E148 implementation may not be required, but certainly the equipment should support NTP as described in E148. If an equipment control systems is composed of multiple computers, E148 states that they should all be synchronized with a single computer designated as the master, which is a good idea if the other computers are generating data with timestamps.

E157 Specification for Module Process Tracking

E157 Module Process Tracking does not apply to all backend equipment. To use E157 Module Process Tracking, there must be at least one process module (aka a process chamber) which processes one substrate or a batch of material at a time. If multiple substrates are processed at a time but each having different start and stop times, then this specification cannot be applied.

E157 Module Process Tracking defines a very simple processing state model which is implemented independently for each process chamber.

GEM-backend-2-3The state model reports when the process chamber is either idle (Not Executing) or processing a recipe (Executing). And when processing a recipe, each time an individual step in the recipe starts, completes, or fails, this is reported. It is up to the implementer to decide what constitutes a recipe step. In my experience, most equipment that could adopt E157 have already implemented something very similar using a set of GEM events. However, rather than implementing something custom, it is better for end users and equipment manufacturers alike if the implementations are standardized.

E157 is a prime example of an exceptionally simple and well-written standard built on top of GEM technology that is easy to implement and provides a lot of end user value. Hopefully the ABFI task force can develop something based on E157 principles that is well suited for backend equipment that cannot accommodate the full scope of the current standard.

E172 Specification for SECS Equipment Data Dictionary (SEDD)

Go back in time (not that far, actually), and “GEM documentation” meant a stack of printed documentation on paper that was expected to be delivered with the equipment. Today “GEM documentation” means an MS Word document, PDF file, Excel spreadsheet, or some other electronic representation of the same information. Nearly any digital format is acceptable.

Nevertheless, E172 SECS Equipment Data Dictionary is the future of GEM documentation. The GEM documentation is provided in a standardized electronic XML format called an SEDD file. E172 defines a standard XML schema. The initial version of this schema included only basic information about a GEM interface. This was expanded in a later version to include several more details. Soon, I hope to report that the E30 GEM standard has been modified to officially include SEDD files as one form of documentation. Additionally, this should include enhancing the GEM standard to allow an SEDD file to be transferred directly through the GEM interface. This will significantly improve GEM’s plug-and-play capability by enabling factory host software to consume an SEDD file and automatically configure the GEM host software to support an equipment’s specific implementation of GEM and GEM messages.

As the backend industry segment is increasingly implementing GEM in its factories, I expect SEDD files to be required from all backend equipment manufacturers.

E173 Specification for XML SECS-II Message Notation (SMN)

In order to diagnose problems in a GEM interface, it is essential to have logging for the GEM messages transferred between the host and equipment. Typically, both the GEM host and equipment’s GEM interface will provide logging functionality. In the past, a notation called SML (SECS Message Language) was used for logging GEM messages. Unfortunately, SML was never standardized or even sufficiently well defined. As result, there are many different variations of SML throughout the world. While SML notation itself is relatively easy to generate with software, the breadth of implementation variations makes it difficult to automatically parse and use.

Fortunately, the SEMI North America GEM300 task force created E173 XML SECS-II Message Notation (SMN) to solve this problem. SMN defines an XML schema that anyone can use to document and log GEM SECS-II messages. The schema is feature rich allowing for both minimum and elaborate XML decoration. As an example of its usefulness and flexibility, the E172 SEDD schema references the SMN schema file. Because SMN is based on XML, it is both very easy for software to generate and consume. There are numerous software tools and libraries available in virtually every software programming language for working with XML. Using SMN with GEM allows GEM to continue to send and receive messages in an efficient binary format, yet still enjoy the benefits of using a decorated, human-readable text notation for diagnosing issues.

I expect the ABFI task force to recommend that the backend industry segment adopt SMN in all equipment GEM interfaces.

Conclusion

As backend factories adopt GEM, we expect that they will also want to use the latest technologies with it, including SMN, SEDD, Module Process Tracking and Equipment Performance Tracking. Watch for more details and updates from the SEMI Advanced Backend Factory Integration task force as its work progresses—and feel free to join this initiative if you want to help steer and accelerate this activity!

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

Semiconductor Back End Processes: Selective GEM300 Adoption

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Jun 24, 2020 11:15:00 AM

GEM and GEM300 Adoption

In a previous blog I shared how the relatively new SEMI task force in North America called “Advanced Back End Factory Integration” (ABFI) has already decided to promote the adoption of the GEM standard. In this blog I will explain how the task force is also planning to selectively adopt what is often called the GEM300 set of standards. I say “planning” because this is a work in progress and subject to the standardization process in which we strive for consensus among the participants. However, one can argue that this plan should not be particularly controversial since the GEM300 standards have already been adopted by several major manufacturers of semiconductor back end equipment.

What are the GEM300 Standards?

There is no official “GEM300” definition, but at a minimum, all the experts agree that the GEM300 set of SEMI standards includes the following:

SEMI Designation

Standard Name

E5

Specification for SEMI Equipment Communications Standard 2 Message Content (SECS-II)

E30

Specification for the Generic Model for Communications and Control of Manufacturing Equipment (GEM)

E37

Specification for High-Speed SECS Message Services (HSMS) Generic Services

E37.1

Specification for High-Speed SECS Message Services Single Selected-Session Mode (HSMS-SS)

E39

Object Services Standard: Concepts, Behavior, and Services

E39.1

SECS-II Protocol for Object Services Standard (OSS)

E40

Standard for Processing Management

E40.1

Specification for SECS-II Support for Processing Management

E87

Specification for Carrier Management (CMS)

E87.1

Specification for SECS-II Protocol for Carrier Management (CMS)

E90

Specification for Substrate Tracking

E90.1

Specification for SECS-II Protocol for Substrate Tracking

E94

Specification for Control Job Management

E94.1

Specification for SECS-II Protocol for Control Job Management (CJM)

 

Seen together like this in a table, it seems like a lot to study and learn. And it is daunting. However, it is important to remember that most of the primary standards (like E87 and E90) also have a subordinate standard (like E87.1 and E90.1) that defines how to implement the standard using SECS-II. Although this nearly doubles the length of the list, these “.1” standards are really just extensions of the primary standard, and are all relatively short specifications. Each of these core GEM300 standards defines specifically how to use and augment the GEM standard to implement specific factory automation requirements and production operational scenarios. Basically, they work together like this:

GEM-for-Backend-2.1

SEMI E37 (High-Speed SECS Messaging Services), E5 (SECS-II) and E30 (GEM) are the core standards for any modern GEM implementation—regardless of the GEM300 additions—so of course they apply. Each of the additional GEM300 standards builds on top of E30 and E5 to define general features for data collection, alarm handling, collection event reporting and the messaging library. For example, E87 (Carrier Management) deals with the load port services, carrier delivery, and carrier removal. E90 (Substrate Tracking) reports all substrate movement from the carrier to the process chamber and any intermediate movement. E40 (Processing Management) and E94 (Control Job Management) determine which substrates to process, which recipes to use and the substrate destinations. Finally, E39 (Object Services) defines general object handling for all of the standards.

Even though the diagram shows silicon wafers—since semiconductor front end factories use this set of GEM300 standards nearly universally—their applicability goes well beyond 300mm silicon wafer processing. However, if an equipment does not deal with the substrates (material) or substrate delivery directly, then it is best just implementing GEM rather than GEM300.

How can these SEMI standards be applied to other equipment?

E87 Carrier Management

Certainly, any equipment dealing with a FOUP (front-opening universal pod) that holds silicon wafers can adopt E87 Carrier Management to manage the load ports and carrier validation. But E87 Carrier Management is written in a manner flexible enough that equipment handling many other types of material can adopt it. Here are the criteria:

    1. The material arrives in a container of some sort.

      The shape of the container, the number of slots in the container and the orientation of the slots do not matter. The container can be a rectangular tray with pockets. It can also be round with pockets. E87 Carrier Management refers to these containers as carriers.
    2. The material slots in the container can be ordered.

      In a FOUP, the material is in a horizontally stacked orientation. However, the principles of E87 Carrier Management can also apply to other material orientations. Whatever the container type, there needs to be clearly defined slot numbering. E87 Carrier Management only defines the order for a stacked container; therefore, other container styles need standardization.

With these two criteria, E87 Carrier Management can be applied to add value to the equipment by supporting an increased level of factory automation.

What features determine whether E87 Carrier Management can be adopted?

    1. Carrier (Container) ID

      If there is a carrier ID of some sort, it is of course very useful for implementing carrier ID verification. The carrier ID can be a barcode or any other type of identifier. But even if there is no carrier ID (even a barcode would suffice), then while under remote control the host can assign an ID to the carrier. Alternatively, while under local control the equipment software can generate a unique carrier ID.

    2. Carrier (Container) ID Reader

      E87 Carrier Management anticipated that a unit of equipment might not have a carrier ID reader. It also anticipated that a carrier ID reader might be out of service or defective, and therefore should be ignored. Not having a carrier ID reader means that you will not have the benefit of verifying that the correct container has arrived.

    3. Number of Slots in the Container

      A standard FOUP for silicon wafers has 25 slots. But the number of slots in a container is not limited or restricted.

When can’t E87 Carrier Management be applied?

For E87 Carrier Management to be applied, the material needs to arrive and/or depart in some sort of container. If material arrives and departs continuously without any container, such as on a conveyor, then there is no container or load port for E87 Carrier Management to manage. Of course, GEM can still be applied without E87 and the other GEM300 standards, although E90 Substrate Tracking might still be useful.

What are the benefits of using E87 Carrier Management?

E87 Carrier Management provides quite a few benefits to any equipment that can adopt it.

  • Confirmation that the correct container arrived at the equipment
  • Confirmation that the container has the expected material in its various locations
  • Reporting current load port states (e.g., occupied, ready for unloading, ready for loading)
  • Placing a load port in and out of service, such as for maintenance and repair
  • Notifying the equipment when a container will be arriving
  • Managing container storage
  • Reporting when the material from a container is nearly completed processing
  • Load port identification
  • Assigning substrate IDs

E90 Substrate Tracking

The “substrate” term is not restricted to silicon wafers, but rather applies to any type of product material. This generalization of the substrate term means that E90 Substrate Tracking can be applied to many different types of equipment.

Normally substrate tracking is considered in terms of fixed substrate locations, such as a slot in a container, a specific location in a pre-aligner, the end effector of a robot arm, or a specific process chamber. However, just a like a robot for handling silicon wafers can have multiple arms for handling multiple substrates, a conveyor can be similarly modeled to have multiple substrate locations. For example, if a conveyor can hold 50 small substrates at a time, then it could be modeled with 50 substrate locations for high-precision material tracking. Doing so allows E90 to be used to track substrates even while on a conveyor. The time each substrate is placed on a conveyor can be used to deduce the order of the material on the conveyor.

E90 Substrate Tracking also provides for substrate ID verification. This is only possible when the substrates have an identification code that can be read, such as a barcode or 2D data matrix, and when the equipment has the hardware capable of reading the identification code. When both are present, substrate ID verification can allow the factory to confirm each substrate before processing, and thereby reduce scrap.

When an equipment transports and processes multiple units of material internally using any type of container, it is called batch processing. E90 Substrate Tracking also supports this method by identifying batch locations and by providing data collection features specific to batch movement.

When can’t E90 Substrate Tracking be applied?

In order to use E90 Substrate Tracking, the equipment must have at least two substrate locations and work with some type of substrate. Without these there is no benefit in implementing E90 Substrate Tracking.

What are the benefits of using E90 Substrate Tracking?

E90 Substrate Tracking provides many benefits to any equipment that handles material.
  • Providing history of substrate movement, including timestamps for each location change
  • Substrate identification
  • Substrate location identification
  • Factory substrate verification, including the automated rejection of invalid substrates
  • Providing processing status for each substrate
  • Implementing virtual substrate tracking for lost substrates

E40 Processing Management

E40 Processing Management creates a list of materials to process and the name of the recipe to use. When using silicon wafer substrates, this list is either in the form of a carrier ID and a set of slot numbers, or a list of substrate IDs.

When can’t E40 Processing Management be applied?

If an equipment processes material continuously without having a discrete set of material that is known and identified ahead of time, you cannot apply E40 Processing Management. E40 Processing Management assumes that you have a specific set of material to process. If each substrate is simply processed as it arrives, then you are better off just using GEM’s PP-SELECT remote command to choose the correct recipe.

What are the benefits of using E40 Processing Management?

E40 Processing Management provides multiple benefits when it can be applied to an equipment:

  • Easily configure the equipment to process a specific set of material with a specific recipe. For example, 20 substrates can all be processed with the same recipe, or each with a different recipe.
  • Allows the equipment to support process tuning in which specific default settings in a selected recipe can be overwritten with new values. This is far easier than creating a proliferation of nearly identical recipes.

E94 Control Job Management

E40 Processing Management can be used in a standalone fashion but is usually implemented in conjunction with E94 Control Job Management. I recommend implementing both. Even if you don’t need all the extra features of Control Job Management, it adds very little overhead and is easy to use.

When can’t E94 Control Job Management be applied?

E94 Control Job Management cannot be used without E40 Processing Management, because its primary function is to manage the E40 process jobs. Therefore, its applicability is subject to the same criteria as E40 Processing Management.

What are the benefits of using E94 Control Job Management?

E94 Control Job Management has some features that benefit some equipment:

  • Allows material to arrive in one container and depart in another. This is beneficial when the source container needs to be kept uncontaminated by the effects of a process.
  • Allows material to be sorted based on some criteria. This is beneficial when sorting takes place based on inspection and/or other conditions, and the material is subsequently routed to different destination containers based on the sorting.
  • Manages a set of process jobs. For example, one can abort, pause or resume all process jobs.

How does all of this apply to the back end industry segment?

Factories must decide if they want the benefits of GEM300. Although E90 Substrate Tracking can be applied to most equipment, E87 Carrier Management, E40 Processing Management and E94 Control Job Management are only applicable to the equipment that deliver and/or remove material in containers. The features of each standard may not seem remarkable in and of themselves, but it is important to remember that these features have been implemented in a standardized way that many equipment manufacturers and their factory customers around the world have all agreed to follow—and that is truly remarkable.

One of the primary benefits of the GEM300 standards is the factory’s ability to move material to the equipment and process it in any order. The term “process” is used very loosely with the understanding that in addition to material transformation, inspection, metrology, sorting, testing, packaging, and other manufacturing activities are all types of processing. The material can be moved from any equipment to any equipment. This flexibility is a key to the success of modern integrated circuit manufacturing. It allows for the fabrication of many products without moving equipment or setting up conveyors. It allows process steps to be added or removed at any time. It enables the optimum use of inspection and metrology equipment since the same equipment can be used before and after any process step. The GEM300 standards directly support this flexibility.

The SEMI Advanced Back End Factory Integration task force plans to standardize the criteria for determining which standards apply based on an equipment’s functionality. What I’ve explained in this posting is just the starting point for this work—there is much more to be done. We welcome more participants on the task force to ensure the standardization is done accurately and efficiently.

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