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PTO helps Veeco meet fab automation specifications

"PEER Group's engineers are very knowledgeable about complexities of semiconductor factory automation..."

David Rossi, Vice President and General Manager at Veeco AFM division

There are two types of factory automation standards in the semiconductor industry: those that must be followed exactly, and those that allow room for interpretation and customization. For example, SECS-I messaging must be exact to the byte, or the dimensions of a FOUP base must be precise to a fraction of a millimeter. Most factory automation standards, however, particularly those related to software, are implemented somewhat differently by each IC manufacturer in order to meet specific factory automation requirements. Chip makers typically alter their factory automation strategies with each new fab, continuously seeking improvement in throughput, cycle time, equipment utilization, yield, and operator efficiency. By using PEER Tool Orchestrator (PTO), Veeco Metrology is able to quickly adapt their system software to meet each fab’s specific operational scenarios.

Recently, Veeco Metrology successfully shipped their new InSight™ 3D AFM system to a new fab at a large Asian-based memory manufacturer with a history of challenging automation specifications. For 300mm semiconductor production, all tools in the installed base must perform automation functions seamlessly, but the first tool in a new fab is particularly critical. In addition to being a gatekeeper for future orders, a ‘first-in-fab’ installation has many risks that usually stem from misinterpretation of documentation, fluid specifications, and the difficulty in establishing a good simulated testing environment prior to shipment.

SEMI Standards E84 and E87

This particular customer’s latest fab has many new requirements, particularly with the extensions of SEMI standards E84 (Carrier Handoff) and E87 (Carrier Management). The fab’s unique operational scenarios push the limits of the standards, which required many changes to the tool automation software. “As soon as we received the requirements from the customer, we got PEER Group involved in order to help us understand the effort to customize our Insight platform,” said David Rossi, Vice President and General Manager of Veeco’s AFM division. “They were able to assess the customer’s requirements and give us the confidence that we could deliver a tool that would be readily accepted by the customer.” The installation of the tool with the revised automation software was a success for all parties.

Veeco's InSight 3D AFM system

Veeco’s InSight 3D AFM system was the first tool shipment to this particular fab for the PTO automation software. By design, PTO’s flexible architecture adapts well to new requirements, even those as unique as the ones needed for this fab. “PTO has been shipping to fabs globally since 2004, so the requirements of most new fabs are handled by configuration. This fab, however, necessitated changes to the PTO core,” said Mike Thiessen, Engineering Manager at PEER Group. “Fortunately, we designed PTO so that it can implement dramatically new and different features while at the same time maintaining backwards compatibility. Any existing PTO user will be ready to meet this fab’s requirements with a simple upgrade to the latest version of PTO.”

“PEER Group’s engineers are very knowledgeable about complexities of semiconductor factory automation,” said Cindy Oliver, Automation Software Manager at Veeco Metrology.  PEER Group has tested and integrated hundreds of equipment models into factories and has the experience of adapting to new and changing requirements. In addition to strong automation knowledge, PEER Group has very well-established engineering processes for tackling new customer requirements. Ms. Oliver continued, “Nothing gets overlooked. We were confident that our tool would be readily accepted by the customer. And it was.”

About Veeco

Veeco Instruments Inc. designs, manufactures, markets and services enabling solutions for customers in the HB-LED, solar, data storage, semiconductor, scientific research and industrial markets. We have leading technology positions in our three businesses: LED & Solar Process Equipment, Data Storage Process Equipment, and Metrology Instruments. Veeco's product development, marketing, engineering and manufacturing facilities are located in New York, New Jersey, California, Colorado, Arizona, Massachusetts and Minnesota. Global sales and service offices are located throughout the U.S., Europe, Japan and Asia Pacific. www.veeco.com.

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