Industry News, Trends and Technology, and Standards Updates

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

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

What’s new with CIMControlFrameworkTM (CCF)?

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

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

GUI Changes

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

New WPF OI for vacuum sample

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

Op-interface-CCF-whats-newNew visualization library

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

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

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

Additional GUI changes

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

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

Simulation Changes

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

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

Efficiency Changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interlocks

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Summer 2022 North America Information & Control Committee Report

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Jul 26, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Background

The North America Information & Control Committee (I&CC or NA I&CC) is comprised of several task forces including GEM 300, Diagnostic Data Acquisition (DDA), Advanced Backend Factory Integration (ABFI), Fab & Equipment Computer and Device Security (CDS), and Graphical User Interfaces (GUI). These task forces and the committee all met during the week of SEMICON West, July 11-13, 202. Not long ago, SEMI regulations were modified to allow TC Chapter (Committee) voting in virtual meetings; therefore, the standards activities continue to move forward. In-person task force participation was much higher than the last meetings, but remote participation also remains strong. This blog is a summary of the activities in each task force.

GEM 300 Task Force

Here is a summary of worldwide activities related to the GEM 300 task force as of the start of the GEM 300 task force meeting.

Region

Ballot

Standard(s)

Status

Topic

Korea

5832

New

?

Generic Counter

NA

6572

E30

Adjudication

Add Stream 21, more stream 2, Cleanup Process Program Management.

NA

6835

E87

Development

Carrier Ready to Unload Prediction update

NA

6836

E87/E90

Development

Extending substrate characteristics, such as for Bonder/Debonder support and other applications

NA

6859

E116

Adjudication

Recommendations from the ABFI task force

NA

6893

E5

Published

Errata

China

6914

E87

Development

Modify E87 to allow for more equipment adoption, particularly in the semiconductor backend.

NA

6916

E5

Adjudication

FormatCode for OperatorCommand. Various Errata.

 

 

Three ballots were adjudicated during the GEM 300 task force meeting. The term “adjudication” means we review the voting and recommend handling of all negative votes and comments received to ultimately accept the ballot for publication or reject the ballot for rework. The recommendations by the task force are then finalized at the committee meeting. Usually, the task force recommendation is accepted by the committee, as was the case in all three ballots.

6916 E5

This ballot proposes to modify the E5 SECS-II standard and included the following minor changes:

  • Allow data variable OperatorCommand to be type ASCII.
  • Correct various typographical errors
  • Remove the dependency between variables MDLN (equipment model number) and EqpSerialNum (equipment serial number).

This ballot passed after the only negative was withdrawn by the voter.

6572B E30

This ballot proposes to modify the GEM (E30) standard. It is a revision ballot, meaning the entire E30 standard is subject to review. This is the third time the ballot has been submitted. It is a major update to the GEM standard and includes the following changes:

  • Process Program Management changes
    • The terms “recipe” and “process program” are currently used nearly interchangeably. The proposal is to use the term “process program” exclusively.
    • References to E42, large formatted and large process programs are moved out of the main standard and into the appendix.
    • Stream 21 messages are introduced for process program management, including both the single and multiple message techniques. This provides a simplified way for GEM interfaces to upload and download large process programs.
    • The entire process program management section is vastly reorganized to help implementers understand the available alternatives and the scenarios for each available alternative. New tables were introduced to compare and summarize implementation alternatives.
    • Collection event ‘Process Program Error’ is specifically listed as required, rather than just as an implied requirement.
  • A series of new SECS-II messages are introduced including S2F51-S2F64. These are new capabilities to make a GEM interface more transparent.
  • S5F7/F8 is added to the alarm management capability for similar reasons.
  • Two new GEM documentation features are added and made available through the GEM interface using Stream 21 messages including PDF documentation and SEDD (see SEMI E172) documentation. This should make it easier to distribute GEM documentation and ensure that the right documentation is referenced.
  • Two new equipment identification features are added, one to identify the equipment supplier and one to uniquely identify each individual equipment. This should make it easier to identify and track specific equipment on the factory floor.
  • Some changes related to terminology are included. SEMI regulations recently were updated with a list of restricted bias terminology which are not allowed in any SEMI standards and a list of terms to avoid when possible.

This ballot failed due to a disagreement regarding a proposed change to the GEM control state model collection on transition 10 related to the host off-line state. The task force remains evenly divided on this issue; therefore, this change will be withdrawn from the next revision of this ballot.

I am optimistic that the 6572C revision of this ballot will pass voting with little controversy. This ballot has already been distributed to the task force for final review. Little controversy remains unless some voter raises a new issue.

6859 E116

Originally ballot 6859 intended to add significant new features to the E116 standard. However, the aggressive changes have been abandoned. Instead, this ballot is focused on making one change to E116. Currently the E116 specification implements collection events in a manner inconsistent with E30, E40, E87, E90, E94, E109, and E157. This E116 ballot failed. After further discussion in the task force, consensus on the proposed changes seems possible in the next voting cycle. The updated ballot 6859A has already been submitted for review by the task force.

DDA Task Force

The DDA task force has been and continues to update the Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA a.k.a. Interface A) standards with the goal to approve an EDA Freeze 3 set of standards based on gRPC technology. To date the following ballots have been completed:

Standard (Ballot)

Ballot Status

E138 (6336)

Published - 03/15/2019

E120 (6434)

Published – 05/30/2019

E145 (6436)

Published – 05/31/2019

E178 (6300)

Published – 01/10/2020

E179 (6803)

Published – 03/11/2022

E132 (6719A)

Published – 04/29/2022

E132.2 (6346F)

Published – 04/29/2022

E125 (6718A)

Published – 04/22/2022

E134 (6720A)

Approved - In Publication Queue

E134.2 (6347A)

Approved - In Publication Queue

E179 (6837)

Approved - In Publication Queue

E125.2 (6345A)

Approved - In Publication Queue

E125 (6891)

Approved - In Publication Queue

E179 (6892)

Approved - In Publication Queue

E120.2 (6908)

Approved - In Publication Queue

During these meetings, three DDA task force ballots failed adjudication, 6927 (E125, E125.2), 6928 (E132, E132.2) and 6929 (E134, E134.2) due to procedural errors which violated SEMI regulations. This is primarily due to a long backlog of publications on previously approved specifications. Discussions were held in several meetings in an attempt to find ways to help SEMI get caught up on publications. The delay in publication is partly due to the several large ballots that were backlogged when COVID activity prevented the committee from completing adjudication in remote or hybrid meetings.

Test Session #1

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

DDA Freeze 3 Plans

The DDA Task force plans an update to E125, E132, and E134 including changes from the recently failed ballots as well as topics raised in the test session. Due to the expanded scope, new ballot numbers will be issued. Additionally plans to update E164 are also moving forward. The biggest challenge for E164 will be converting the XML files into JSON files. Either JSON5 or JSONC will likely be used since comments are mandatory in the E164 complementary files which show how to create GEM 300 capable EDA equipment models.

ABFI Task Force

The Advanced Backend Factory Integration task force is actively working on two ballots.
One ballot is a minor update to the E142, the substrate mapping specification which facilitates traceability and other application where substrate, tray, feeder, and other information can be shared between a factory and equipment. The minor update will add additional substrate types so E142 substrate maps can be used in more applications.

Additionally, the task force is working on ballots 6924 and 6925. The 6924 specifications will define the management of Consumable and Durables on manufacturing equipment. Features include allowing the host to accept or reject newly mounted consumables and durables. Additionally, the equipment will be able to report on consumable and durable usage. While technically both can already be done, the specification establishes a standard way for the features to be implemented. The 6925 ballot maps 6924 for usage in a GEM interface. The plan is to submit the ballot for the next voting cycle.

GUI Task Force

The GUI task force continues to work on a major revision of the E95 specification for Human Interfaces for Semiconductor Equipment. In addition to updating the specification with changes in software development, this revision will establish requirements for the usage of human interfaces on equipment using devices with small screens. The task force seems to be gaining consensus of many topics and getting ready to submit the ballot for voting.

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 here.

After joining the standards activities, anyone can get involved. The task forces post everything on the connected @ SEMI website https://connect.semi.org/home. Here are the community names for the task forces covered in this blog:

  • GEM 300 Task Force - North America
  • Diagnostic Data Acquisition Task Force - North America
  • Fab & Equipment Computer and Device Security (CDS) Task Force – North America
  • Advanced Backend Factory Integration (ABFI) Task Force – North America
  • Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) Task Force - North America

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

The Importance of Standards Compliance Testing

Posted by David Francis: Director of Product Management on Jun 8, 2022 12:33:00 PM

In the late 1980s and early 1990’s the Semiconductor Equipment Communication Standard (SECS) was starting to gain traction. Back then it was based on RS232 serial communication defined by the SEMI E4 SECS-I Standard. Later, SECS-I was replaced by the SEMI E37 HSMS standard. The content of the messages was defined by the SEMI E5 SECS-II standard. At the time, that was all that was defined. It was a bit like the Wild West with each equipment vendor implementing SECS-II messages as they saw fit.

network-technology-tabletWhile it was cool to be able to connect to process or metrology equipment and collect data, specify the process, and monitor alarms, it was a big task to develop factory systems that interface to the equipment because each SECS-II interface was unique. One of the first tasks required when developing an interface was to perform an equipment characterization to understand and document the details of the SECS messages used by each equipment. The characterization report became the guide for developing the factory side interface to that particular piece of equipment.

Semiconductor factories were buying hundreds of pieces of equipment for their factories, and though there were usually multiple pieces of the same equipment, there were still many unique equipment interfaces in each factory. The factories had to develop unique interfaces for all the equipment they wanted to automate. This issue was a bit like the tail wagging the dog.

To change things so that each equipment interface wasn’t completely unique, semiconductor factories worked with SEMI to better define how the communication between factory control systems and equipment should work in the factory. In 1992 SEMI published the first version of the E30 standard – Specification for the Generic Equipment Model for Communications and Control of Manufacturing Equipment (GEM). This standard provided a stable base for both factories and equipment manufacturers to work from in developing equipment interfaces. Message usage and contents were consistent, state models were defined, and interface capabilities were well-documented.

Since that time, other equipment communication standards have been developed and approved for use in semiconductor manufacturing. The GEM300 standards for factory automation (E39, E40, E87, E90, E94, E116, E148, and E157) have made it possible to enable fully automated manufacturing. The EDA standards (E120, E125, E132, E134, and E164) make it possible to implement consistent, well-defined data collection.

Even though the SEMI standards are quite well-defined, they are only as good as the implementation on the equipment. Compliance testing is essential for both equipment manufacturers and factories to ensure the interfaces are compliant to the standards and function as defined. In the early days of GEM, compliance testing was an essential piece of factory acceptance of the equipment. Initially, there wasn’t a lot of experience with developing or using the equipment interfaces. This meant that we needed some way to test compliance to ensure the interfaces worked as expected. Even though GEM and GEM300 are now quite established, compliance testing is still important to ensure the communication interfaces will support the functionality needed in the factories.factory-scientist-clean-room

Compliance testing for the EDA standards hasn't been as well-defined as it has been for GEM and GEM300. In 2011 the International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI) published the ISMI Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA) Evaluation Method document which provided step-by-step instructions for testing and evaluating an EDA interface. Using that document, Cimetrix developed EDATester which automates the instructions defined in the Evaluation Method document. This automation allows testing that would normally take several days to be done in a few hours, or less.

Having standard, well-defined communication interfaces for semiconductor manufacturing equipment is important to automated manufacturing and data collection. The ability to test developed interfaces and assure that they are compliant with the SEMI standards is essential to successfully introducing the equipment into a semiconductor factory.

Cimetrix compliance test tools automate the testing process making the acceptance process smooth.

 

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

Identifying Custom Test Cases in the SEMI E30 GEM Standard: Part 2

Posted by Jesse Lopez: Software Engineer on Apr 13, 2022 11:45:00 AM

This blog is the conclusion to the blog: Identifying Custom Test Cases in the SEMI E30 GEM Standard found here.

Unhappy Path Testing

Though this post will focus on the so-called “happy path” (i.e., no errors), it is also important to test unhappy paths.

Conditions that might show up in the “unhappy path” testing include:

  1. Card reader loses internet connection.
  2. Card reader loses power
  3. Vending machine loses communication with Card reader

Happy Path Test Case

The happy path is the program flow that is followed given the user (or in this case, the equipment) only enters valid data. I

n this simple test, we ignore the Error/Alarm cases (Transitions T2 and T4).

Transition Test Steps for Happy Path

  1. Initializing T1 =>
  2. Wait_Payment T3 =>
  3. Wait_Selection T5 =>
  4. Dispense_Item T7=>
  5. while (User wants more items && has sufficient funds)
    {
    Dispense_Item T6
    Wait_Selection T5
    }
  6. Transaction Complete T8

EquipmentTest plugin setup

Prerequisites:

  1. EquipmentTest 1.0.3 or later installed.
  2. Visual Studio 2019 or later (Targeting .NET Framework)
  3. .NET 4.8 SDK
  4. A unit of GEM-enabled equipment (or equivalent) to test against
  5. Follow the instructions in the EquipmentTest Developer Guide Section titled: “Creating a plug-in using Visual Studio”,

Test Flow

Sometimes I find it beneficial to assert the data as it occurs. For the sake of brevity, this test will gather all the data, and then verify it at the end of the test.

Documentation

Documentation is one if the items the user will see in the EquipmentTest User Interface. Each Test Step must be documented in the plug-in so the user understands what the test is doing.

SEMI-E30-Gem-blog-pic-5User Parameters

In GEM, each Collection Event, Variable, and Alarm will have an ID. These IDs are needed for host-side testing. Most modern equipment allows us to get these IDs through characterization messaging. For this example, we will allow the user of our test (plug-in) to enter the values manually.

SEMI-E30-Gem-blog-pic-6Custom Test Overview

The HSMS settings are retrieved from the set the user entered in the EquipmentTest user interface.

In Step 1, the Event Report for the Processing State Transitions and associated variables are created.

In Step 2, the test waits for an Auto Reset Event “timeOutWait”. If the result times out, the test fails. If the test receives Transition 8, the test continues.

Steps 1-2SEMI-E30-Gem-blog-pic-7

Create Reports

The CreateReports API call sends an S2F33 message to create the report number specified by the user parameter ProcessState Report. The report will contain the status variables ProcessState and PreviousProcessState. Both have a value type of Ascii in this example.

SEMI-E30-Gem-blog-pic-8Test Steps 3-4

Step 3 inspects the data to make sure all the state transitions occurred in the expected order.

The first 4 states should always be T1, T3, T5, and T7 respectively. However, the next states will vary depending on how the user responds. This requires the test to dynamically assert the data.

In test step 4, we extract the variable values, and then use the same approach as step 3 to ensure the previous and current process states were reported correct.

SEMI-E30-Gem-blog-pic-7Conclusion

Though developing this test took a basic understanding of GEM and C#, running the test requires the user to understand neither. This means anyone with access to the equipment and an EquipmentTest run-time license can run successfully run this test.

Cimetrix EquipmentTest allows the developer to harness the extensibility of the .NET Framework. Furthermore, the well-written and proven GEM libraries flatten a significant portion of the learning curve associated with writing GEM tests.

For more information on Cimetrix EquipmentTest, to request a demo, or to speak with an expert, please click the button below.

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

Identifying Custom Test Cases for the SEMI E30 GEM Standard: Part 1

Posted by Jesse Lopez: Software Engineer on Apr 6, 2022 11:45:00 AM

Testing the interface capabilities of GEM-enabled equipment not only during development but also while in production has measurable benefits. There are portions of the GEM standard that are not explicitly specified, allowing implementations to vary from equipment to equipment. As a result, equipment manufacturers should write equipment-specific tests that will continue to provide value throughout the equipment’s service life.

Processing State Model

One GEM item that will almost always vary is the equipment’s processing state model. I will use the Cimetrix GEM test utility EquipmentTest to show an example of creating a custom test for an equipment’s processing state. You can request an evaluation of EquipmentTest on our website.

The E30 standard provides an example Processing State Diagram and Transition table.

SEMI-E30-Gem-blog-pic-1Process State Requirements

Though implementations can vary without violating the standard, the processing state section includes the following requirements which must be followed for the interface to be compliant:

SEMI-E30-Gem-blog-pic-2SEMI E030-00-0520

Explanation:

The examples for the Processing States (INIT, IDLE, SETUP, etc.) are not absolutely required in a GEM implementation. However, the equipment manufacturer must identify the equipment’s states and document them similarly to the examples.

SEMI-E30-Gem-blog-pic-3SEMI E030-00-0520

Explanation:

  • There must be a collection event for each state transition in the processing state model.
  • The following status variables must be provided:
    • ProcessState
    • PreviousProcessState
  • Whenever any state transition occurs, the ProcessState and PreviousProcessState status variable values must be updated

Pseudo example Vending Machine

Vending-machine-credit-card

Though it is unlikely a GEM interface would ever be implemented on a vending machine, it is a universally known system, often used as a state machine teaching example in academia. Therefore, we will likewise use our imaginary GEM-compliant Vending Machine as an example.

Assumptions to Maintain Simplicity

  • The vending machine uses contact-less payment that authorizes $5.00 at the beginning of the transaction.
  • The vending machine has no knowledge of the items it contains except their location and prices.
  • All items are always in stock.

Make a Diagram

When your GEM documentation is final, the Process State diagram should be in Harel notation. For the purposes of brainstorming, I have used a simple UML diagram.

When building a diagram, first identify all the possible GEM states, transition/collection events, variables, alarms, and errors.

States Variables Alarms/Errors
Initializing Previous and Current Process State Dispensing_Error
Wait_Payment Location Selected Insufficient_funds
Wait_Selection Currency Available Card_Read_Error
Dispense_Item Currency Billed  
Transaction_Complete    

 

SEMI-E30-Gem-blog-pic-4

Transition Table

Note the above diagram has each state transition marked in red e.g. T1.

Each state transition must be documented in the Transition Table. The Transition Table will be crucial for developing an effective test.

# Current State Trigger New State Action Comments
T1 Initializing Vending Machine initialized Wait_Payment None Update Events and variables
T2 Wait_Payment Authorization failed Wait_Payment None Update Events and variables
T3 Wait_Payment Authorization Succeeded Wait_Selection None Update Events and variables
T4 Wait_Selection Balance Insufficient Transaction Complete None Update Events and variables
T5 Wait_Selection Items Selected and dispensed Dispense_Item None Update Events and variables
T6 Dispense_Item User wants more items Wait_Selection None Update Events and variables
T7 Dispense_Item User does not want more items Transaction Complete None Update Events and variables
T8 Transaction Complete Equipment prepares for next Transaction Initializing None Update Events and variables

 

Part 2 - The Conclusion will be published next week. In the meantime, if you have questions, would like to request a demo, or would like to speak with one of our experts, please click the button below.

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

A New Benefit for our CIMConnect Customers: Training Videos Available Now

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on Nov 24, 2021 11:45:00 AM

Background

Cimetrix CIMConnectTM customers enjoy many benefits to maintaining an active support contract, and today we are announcing yet another one: access to a set of product-specific training videos.

A few years ago, the Solutions Engineering team at the Cimetrix Connectivity Group posted product training material including the full set of CIMConnect training PowerPoint presentations to facilitate self-training for those unable to attend a formal session. We update this repository periodically as the training material is revised and improved. The material is available online through the Customer Portal. After logging in, you can find the presentations here:

CIMConnect-training-videos-pic1

Training Videos

To complement the presentation material shown above, the Solutions Engineering team is now creating video training material. As of mid-June, 2021, the first set of training videos for CIMConnect is also available via the customer portal (see below).

CIMConnect-training-videos-pic2

By clicking on the “CIMConnect Video Library”, you can see full set of available training videos and access them via this table:

CIMConnect-training-videos-pic3

The material is organized by topic, such as Collection Events or Status Variables. Each topic is subdivided into one or more instruction parts. When there is a lab, the implementation of the lab is covered twice. First, the implementation of the lab is reviewed and demonstrated in CIMConnect’s “Getting Started” sample application. Second, the lab is implemented step by step from scratch in a new application.

A few of the training PowerPoint presentations are not yet complete but should be available soon. This includes topics like Remote Commands, Equipment Constants, Factory Setup, and Operator Interface. Solutions Engineering plans to expand the training to other products as well.

Also, note that other videos are also available that go beyond the scope of the training material. These are found on the same “CIMConnect Video Library” page at the bottom.

Customers are welcome to purchase CIMConnect training and/or consulting services at any time. The training material described above is not a substitute for working directly with a product and standards expert, where a customer can discuss specific equipment hardware, software architecture, and unique customer requirements. Nevertheless, this material should help our customers when they need a refresher course and especially when new employees are assigned to work with CIMConnect after its initial development.

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

Standards Activity Report SEMI NA Spring 2021

Posted by Brian Rubow: Director of Solutions Engineering on May 12, 2021 11:45:00 AM

Stcked_Standards_logoFor the first time since the Fall of 2019, the SEMI North America Information & Control Committee (I&CC) was finally able to meet and conduct business online. Throughout all of 2020, the I&CC was not able to meet because SEMI regulations did not at that time allow voting in online meetings. Instead, only the task forces have been meeting. As a result, any passing ballots, unless super clean, had to wait for adjudication in the North America I&CC.

This year, prior to the I&CC meeting on April 1 and 2, all of the associated task forces also met as usual, including the GEM 300, Diagnostic Data Acquisition (DDA), and Advanced Backend Factory Integration (ABFI) task forces. Moreover, the I&CC was able to conduct all the unresolved business that had accumulated over the last year. During the committee meeting, the I&CC successfully used the SEMI Virtual Meeting (SVM) software which runs in an internet browser, allows each committee member to log in, and allows for official voting to take place during the meeting. The North America I&CC will meet again during the summer.

GEM 300 Task Force

In the GEM 300 task force, the primary activity was to officially redefine its charter and scope to match what it has already been doing for the last 20 years. Each SEMI task force defines a “Task Force Organization Force” document (aka TFOF) to establish its charter and scope. Somehow, the GEM 300 task force charter and scope were severely out of date.

In addition to this update, some changes to the E5 standard finally passed voting, pending some final approval. The E5 changes include several new messages and establish definitions for commonly used data collection terminology. The new messages complement the existing set of messages by allowing the host to query information about the current data collection setup. Currently, it is common for a host program to reset and redefine all data collection after first connecting to an equipment because there has been no way to query this information. With these new messages, the host will be able to query the setup and confirm that no data collection has changed while disconnected. Finally, it will be easier to test GEM interfaces with these new messages.

The task force already approved tasks to consider some major work to the GEM standard. The task force is also considering changes to the E116 standard, but there is some resistance to these changes. Here is a summary table of the GEM-related standards activity from across the globe.

Region

Ballot

Standard(s)

Status

Topic

South Korea

5832

New

Cycle 5, 2020

Generic Counter

South Korea

6695

E87

Adjudication

Ready to unload prediction changes.

North America

6572

E30

Development

Add Stream 21, more stream 2, Cleanup Process Program Management.

North America

6552

E5

Adjudicated Spring 2021

Data collection setup, terminology. Ratification ballot proposed.

2 line-items pending since Summer 2020

North America

6598

E37, E37.1

Cycle 7, 2020

Standardize TCP/IP port numbers

North America

6597

E173

Adjudicated Spring 2021

Minor updates, clarification

Pending since Spring 2020.

North America

6647

E116

SNARF Revision

Recommendations from the ABFI task force

North America

6683

E148

Development

Line item revision

 

DDA Task Force

In the Diagnostic Data Acquisition (DDA) task force (responsible for the EDA standards, aka Interface A), freeze 3 development is moving forward. All of the ballots still failed as expected. The number of remaining technical issues nevertheless has dwindled to just a handful. E132, E125, and especially E164 need the most work.

Following is a summary of the previously completed work.

Standard (Ballot)

Ballot Status

Lead

E132 (6337)

Published - 04/29/2019

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)

E138 (6336)

Published - 03/15/2019

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)

E134 (6335)

Published – 03/29/2019

Inhyeok Paek (Link Genesis)

E120 (6434)

Published – 05/30/2019

Inna Skvortsova (SEMI)

E145 (6436)

Published – 05/31/2019

Inna Skvortsova (SEMI)

E178 (6300)

Published – 01/10/2020

Mitch Sakamoto (ZAMA)

E179 (6344A)

Published – 03/27/2020

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)


And here is a summary of the work in progress.

Standard (Ballot)

Ballot Status

Lead

E125 (6718)

Development

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)

Hyungsu Kim (Doople)

E132 (6719)

Development

Mitch Sakamoto (ZAMA)
Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

E134 (6720)

Development

Brian Rubow (Cimetrix)

E164

 

Alan Weber (Cimetrix)

E125.2 (6345)

Development

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

E132.2 (6346E)

Development

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

E134.2 (6347)

Development

Albert Fuchigami (PEER)

E125 (6527C)

To Abolish

Replaced by 6718

E132 (6571C)

To Abolish

Replaced by 6719

E134 (6553C)

To Abolish

Replaced by 6720

 

All of the failed ballots will be reworked and resubmitted for voting. For many of these ballots, it will be the sixth time to go through the SEMI ballot procedure. Consensus is very nearly achieved, and the defects in the ballots have been identified and corrected. Additionally, there are plans to modify SEMI E179, the standard that defines how gRPC will be utilized. While testing EDA freeze 3, Cimetrix has identified two simple ways to modify the E179 protocol buffer files in order to reduce overhead. These and a few other changes will be proposed in a new ballot.

One of the last changes to the freeze 3 standards will be the introduction of passwords. In the current freeze 1 and freeze 2 versions, there are no passwords. Any client that knows a valid, unused Access Control List entry (ACL, the equivalent of a user name) can connect; therefore, there really isn’t any authentication unless using the SSL protocol with certificates. Passwords will enhance EDA security and facilitate EDA interface setup by allowing client applications to use the same ACL entry while defining a unique password to block other clients from using the same entry. The final E132 ballot will finalize the password feature.

The task force leaders are asking the voting members to raise any final issues before these ballots are submitted to SEMI to the next voting cycle so that we can approve these standards, give implementers a chance to experiment with EDA freeze 3, raise any serious issues that impede the implementation, and then propose the final changes which incorporate that feedback. Until a version of these standards is formally approved, it will be difficult to get concrete and widespread feedback on the new technology, which is a necessary precursor to its adoption and use.

ABFI Task Force

The Advanced Factory Integration task force passed more changes in E142 without controversy. The task force plans to create E142.4, another GEM implementation of E142, designed for larger wafer maps to allow for increased traceability possibilities. Additionally, the task force continues to make plans to develop an adoption matrix as a new standard to describe when GEM and GEM 300 standards should be adopted in backend equipment based on equipment features.

Topics: Industry Highlights, SECS/GEM, Semiconductor Industry, EDA/Interface A, Doing Business with Cimetrix, Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0, GEM300, Standards

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!

To download the GEM300 White Paper, click the button below.

GEM300

 

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