In a semiconductor manufacturing line, many different equipment of different model or manufacturer with various functions are being used for production. Without a communication standard, it will be enormously complex for a fab host system to communicate with different equipment to control and monitor the equipment via different custom communication interfaces that need to be defined and managed separately for every different equipment. As a result, huge amount of time and cost will be incurred when deploying and integrating different equipment in a fab automation ecosystem. This can be avoided when the fab host and all different equipment in a fab adhere to a same standard protocol for communication.
By standardizing or providing a common language that should be shared or applied by all semiconductor equipment, SECS/GEM simplifies the communication requirements between a fab host with various equipment in the fab as well as providing a communication framework for the following crucial capabilities and features:
- Event Notification (For real-time notification of equipment events/activities and associated reports from equipment)
- Alarm Notification (For real-time notification of alarms from equipment)
- Data Variable Collection (For fab host to query or gather real-time data from equipment)
- Recipe Management (For fab host to select, delete, download, upload recipes to/from equipment)
- Remote Control (For fab host to start, stop, abort, perform custom command for an equipment operation, load and unload material to/from equipment)
- Adjust Settings (For fab host to change equipment configuration parameter settings)
- Operator Interface (For exchange of messages with operators)
As SECS/GEM is a communication protocol, implementation of the standard is independent of platform, technology, and programming language used. This gives IC manufacturers and equipment manufacturers the flexibility and interoperability in adopting the standard in their fab host or equipment software using platforms and technologies of their choice without having to worry about communication incompatibility with the other party.
SECS/GEM is also constantly evolving for the better as there is a growing community with the SEMI organization that is continuously reviewing and enhancing the standards for improvements and new requirements in the semiconductor industry.