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While the concept of smart manufacturing is receiving increased attention in recent times, the SEMI Standards Program has for many years been developing the fundamental standards that enable today’s highly adaptive, self-diagnosing, and interoperable fabs. Since the initial publication of the original SEMI Equipment Communication Standard (SECS-I), E4, in the early 1980s, the SEMI Standards Information and Control Committee has continuously responded to the needs of the industry. Major cost reductions and efficiency improvements in factory integration were realized through SECS and GEM (Generic Equipment Model) in the 1990s, as equipment behavior became standardized.

Smart Manufacturing Standards Evolution

Smart Manufacturing Standards Evolution

More recently, smaller feature sizes and more restrictive tolerances have intensified the need for greater visibility into the entire manufacturing process. Fab manufacturing information must be collected and evaluated in greater amounts than ever before. The overall health of the equipment, performance, and process monitoring are examples of data collected to improve overall equipment efficiency. Continuous monitoring, on-demand data, data security and a single point of control through a single point of command are all required, with the caveat that equipment performance not be impacted.

Equipment Data Acquisition

To address these challenges, manufacturers are increasingly adopting the SEMI Equipment Data Acquisition (EDA) suite of standards. Also known as “Interface A,” the EDA suite of SEMI Standards includes SEMI E120, E125, E128, E132, E134, E138 and E164, and was developed to support communication between data gathering software and manufacturing shop floor equipment. The growing prevalence of analysis tools is accelerating the demand for “big data”, and the EDA standards, compared to previous equipment communication standards, have the ability for high-speed data collection from multiple clients, with the data associated to specific equipment components. Simply put, these standards provide a nearly real-time stream of data that can be used to optimize manufacturing.

To support the industry’s growing demands to collect more data from equipment at faster rates, the EDA Standards are currently being be updated to use newer and better technologies and practices. EDA “Freeze 3” is the next proposed edition of the SEMI EDA Standards. (Each Freeze identifies a specific set of SEMI Standards and versions that equipment suppliers and chip makers use as a unified set to implement the interface.)

One of the major initiatives proposed for EDA Freeze 3 is to improve the performance of EDA server/client communication by replacing HTTP/1.1 and SOAP/XML protocols used today with HTTP/2, gRPC™, and Protocol Buffers. HTTP/2 is a well-established major revision focused on performance.  These technologies use a binary encoded protocol that is significantly more efficient in transmitting data, and a single connection between machines makes much better use of computing resources.

Fab and Equipment Information Security

As described above, modern day Smart Manufacturing has massive benefits – enhanced productivity, consistent quality and reduced costs. However, the hyper-connectedness that plays such a key role in Smart Manufacturing can also create vulnerability to security risks, leading to operational delays, intellectual property loss and other disruptions. Companies such as Boeing and Honda have recently suffered cyberattacks, and the semiconductor industry has not been immune, as in recent years a major foundry was reportedly hit with a computer virus that halted production for three days.

If there’s a positive side to this publicity, it’s that the industry can no longer minimize the critical role of information security. Until recently, information security was not a high priority in semiconductor manufacturing, as the emphasis was on developing higher performance in wafer processing. As the industry increasingly suffers security attacks, though, information security is now seen as critical for semiconductor fabs, and the industry has gathered under the SEMI Standards Program to tackle the problem.

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The Taiwan Fab and Equipment Information Security Task Force, led by TSMC and ITRI is focused on developing SEMI Draft Document 6506Specification for Cybersecurity of Fab Equipment. This Document, which defines a common, minimum set of security requirements for Fab equipment, will serve as a baseline for security for fab equipment. The requirements will focus on four major components of fab equipment: its operating system, network security, endpoint protection, and security monitoring. Over time the requirements are expected to scale as malware threats evolve.

The North America Fab & Equipment Computer Device Security (CDS) Task Force led by Intel and Cimetrix is focused on developing SEMI Draft Document 6566Specification for Malware Free Equipment Integration, which defines a protection system for preventing malware infections at different points of the equipment life cycle. The document will outline protocols for pre-shipment scans of equipment as well as various types of ongoing support, including file transfers, maintenance patches, and component replacement. In addition, the document will introduce steps to “harden” equipment software and make it less vulnerable to cyberattacks, which will be measured against third party frameworks such as the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) and Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS).

The Task Forces are in frequent communication to ensure their activities are aligned, and both issued their initial ballots earlier this year and received extensive feedback from the global supply chain. Based on the industry response, both ballots failed committee adjudication. The Task Forces are currently updating their documents to incorporate voter input and will be issuing their next ballots later this summer.

A future activity will be SEMI Draft Document 6565, Specification for Application Whitelisting, a method which will enable technologies to adapt to ever-changing viruses by whitelisting certain applications while preventing the execution of others. Individuals with experience in application whitelisting are encouraged to join the Fab & Equipment Computer Device Security (CDS) Task Force.

Get Involved

In addition to the above activities, SEMI Standards Task Forces are active in several other Smart Manufacturing areas, including:

  • Surface Mount Technology Equipment Communication
  • Energy Saving Equipment Communication
  • Remote Connectivity and Diagnostics
  • Digital Twin
  • Virtual Metrology
  • Backend Factory Automation
  • Supply Chain Traceability
  • Next Generation Test Data Format
  • Tester Event Messaging for Semiconductors

Look for updates on these critical activities in future releases of the SEA newsletter. Efforts such as these are all critical to the industry’s sustained success – get involved! SEMI Standards meetings are being held virtually throughout 2021. For more information, contact your local Standards staff, or visit the SEMI Standards Web site.

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Aug 20, 2020

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