Can you see the wood for the trees?

At MFG Vision we receive many requests from customers. Some requests are for help with a problem that can might be able to be solved with the right data analysis. Some are requests for “make me a chart of this!” Both are interesting opportunities. Let me share an example of the latter type. We were asked to make a chart to include the data shown below:
MFG_Curve_Chart_AWhat does this show us? It looks like the data is unstable, then increases and then starts to disappear. Not much else to be read into it.
Now try removing extreme outliers:

MFG_Curve_Chart_B
Now we can see that the majority of the early data is very stable and that there is a more gradual move to increase in the data.
But is this the appropriate chart for this amount of data? Our customer thought so until we showed them another option:
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Now we can see the behavior of the majority of the data far more clearly. The earlier plots made it very difficult to see how the values are increasing steadily before dropping off again.

This is a great example of what can happen when people want to see all of their big data. That’s not to say that it is never appropriate to show all the data. But finding the right type of chart and the right way of representing the data to give the right level of information is key. If you’re frustrated at looking at the wrong level of detail, either too much or too little, in your data then contact us at MFG Vision and we’ll see how we can help you.

Make Vs Buy of your Yield Management System

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Is it ever worth re-inventing the wheel? Every industry outsources key functions over time. Airlines outsource baggage handling, construction companies outsource pipe-laying. Many fast growing technology companies outsource enterprise software and many are tempted to build their own. Yield Management Software (“YMS”) is no different. 

Why have a YMS system at all?

Whether built internally or bought from a vendor, YMS is essential for saving costs and delivering product on-time and with high quality. Manufacturing more wafers just to get enough product to a customer is not good enough. Your margin will disappear and your competition will eat your lunch. On the other hand, providing your engineers with real time in-depth engineering information from manufacturing has an indisputable ROI. Informed decisions will be made quickly by your skilled engineers to improve your margins and optimise delivery and quality.

Why not build your own?

If I am involved in running an up-and-coming semiconductor company and have a few engineers who are skilled in IT, then I could have them work for a few months on bringing all our data together from our subcons and providing a database accessible by everyone working on yield. These internal IT specialists would be tasked to provide a web-site which is searchable by manufacturing stage and lotid. Any engineer throughout the company could download any data they want when they want it. Indeed I could just hire maybe 5 people to do this for six months. That would cost maybe $300,000 and then I would have a great system for my ten or so end users, right?

Well, let’s see!

Since you’re an up-and-coming company, it may well fulfil your needs initially, but your data volume will grow and your requirements are going to change. So you think: “OK, I’ll hold on to one or two engineers and then 50% of their time can be on the ongoing debug and support of the system.”

So now it’s costing $100K+ a year. Vendors are calling talking about how they can link up the data across manufacturing but one of your engineers in Taiwan says he also can do that within the next few months. You buy new testers and new formats other than industry standard formats like STDF appear. The IT guys working on the system are not sure about the actual DB design as they were more familiar with the UI and training the users. Then the engineer who wrote the scripts for characterising devices has just retired. And his scripts are not fully documented. The Taiwan engineer got dragged into another project. It’s difficult to find a replacement as it’s specialised work. The cost of all this is only going one way.

The number of people who need to use the system is now above twenty but the support for them is erratic. You will have to invest another couple of hundred K very quickly in specialist hires. Vendors are quoting a fraction of the per annum cost for the current number of users you have for your own YMS system and are comfortable with your data formats. But you say, no, I’ll plough ahead with my internal YMS solution.

Geography

Six months later you have decided to move your test engineering to Taiwan to be closer to the foundries. So half the users will be offshore and you don’t have training and support available for them in the YMS system, not even taking into account their time-zone. In addition the website is starting to crash because your volumes have more than doubled and the design was only capable of operating with half a terabyte of data.

New Opportunity Missed

Also there is a cheaper multisite test solution for testing products from a low margin but fast growing product line and the YMS system is not capable of analysing the data at all. The compatibility of the new data format with the YMS system was an afterthought. Now an opportunity has come up for that product line to move to automotive but since they can’t see the production performance easily the decision is being slowed, potentially missing a higher margin opportunity.

Advantages of using a Vendor

If however a good and established vendor were used from day one, the setup cost would have been a lot less and every one of the issues encountered would not have been a big deal. YMS vendors, if they are worth their salt, can set up a system for a small but fast growing company in a few weeks maximum. They would not just provide a web-site where you can download the data. They would provide an interactive website where you can directly analyse it without downloading the data. You would not have to pay them fully until they delivered to your requirements.

Customers like You

The vendor would link up the data across manufacturing, assuming you have a good MES/ERP system they can use. New formats to you would not be new formats to the YMS vendor. They probably have 30 or 40 customers like you with all types of formats and access to the best ideas for your next YMS challenge. They might have to tweak some parsers but this should not cost the earth.

You would ideally have a multi-year contract with the YMS vendor. Include minimum support requirements in the contract and you should have no worries.

The YMS vendor will also have highly skilled support in different continents. The database design will be able to scale to Terabytes, so don’t worry about fast ramps when you get your contract from Cupertino!

If you move into automotive the vendor will have all your requirements available in terms of data and monitoring. If you have particular needs they will work with you quickly and efficiently on them.

Needs Evolving Over Time

So as your needs evolve, your YMS vendor probably already has a solution or can develop one quickly. For example you may need a special type of SPC alert. You can include in the contract the requirement that the system is extended and upgraded at a reasonable frequency. The vendor should have the skill set to do almost anything you dream up that would help with your yield, quality and even reliability. They will probably charge NRE for custom requirements.

IP considerations

If you are concerned about the IP of the data being generated, ask the YMS vendor if you can host everything yourself. The vendor should be able to support this and not even have to ever see your real data.

Financial Considerations

If your vendor already supplies to much larger companies than your own, their financial stability should not be a concern, but sometimes a vendor may be under pressure by its investors to charge a lot of money. Make sure you know the ongoing costs of upgrades and maintenance. Know who is backing the vendor financially. Some vendors have sold out recently so make sure you cover such a situation in the contract.

Other considerations

Does the vendor have customers who will attest to their after sales service? Have they demonstrated that they are responsive and agile? How many years have they been in business?

Summary of Advantages of Buy instead of Make

  • Setup speed   Can setup very quickly, probably days or weeks not months (unless you’re a very big company)
  • YMS Design   Scalable and Robust, built on tens of man-years’ of experience
  • Data Variations Has probably seen them all before & dealt with the extremes
  • Software Development Probably uses latest S/W development methods (Agile etc)
  • Support  Probably has Worldwide support. Not dependent on certain people.  Teams of support engineers
  • Maintainability Probably very stable, scalable system which requires very few resources to support
  • Integration Probably has worked with your MES/ERP before and can integrate with it
  • Depth and Breadth of Analysis Tools  If the vendor is in business for years they will probably have 99% of what  you will ever want & if you want something custom, they will be able to do that for you for a minor cost

Conclusion

If after all the above you still are tempted to develop the YMS solution in-house, just make sure that the database design is scalable and that the engineers developing this internally are not going to be distracted from their YMS job by other IT needs later on. 

We would obviously recommend contacting a vendor like ourselves and let you concentrate on making the best semiconductors possible.

 

Final Test Part Average Testing (PAT)

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 11.48.29MFG Vision has a proven solution for Final Test Parts Average Testing which:

  1. Minimises RAM
  2. Minimises effect on test time
  3. Is Multi-site (up to 32 sites)
  4. Minimises yield loss
  5. Is proven in the field by our customer Infineon, Munich as “detecting assembly related outliers” which is what it’s supposed to do.

We can also integrate it with our database and automated monitoring system (yieldHUB) if you’d like that, for full traceability.

This is out-of-the-box for all Teradyne Image type testers and other tester types are being added based on demand.

Contact: info@mfgvision.com      +353 61 309745

or any of our sales agents worldwide.

 

Big Data Trials!

MFG_Big_DataThere is an interesting trend in growth in the size of datasets that customers want to use for trials of our semiconductor yield management software. While some still have the more traditional approach of a few carefully selected datalogs it is becoming common for customers to want >30GiB of compressed data, that’s in the region of 300GiB uncompressed data, to be used in the trial.

For our system it is no problem and a pleasure to show off the system properly. No more saying, “Well this report would look better with more data….”. But infrastructure wise this was an issue in the past. In the past we had dedicated servers running with fixed total capacity so to think about a trial that could require up to 100GiB of additional storage on the server meant physically changing disks which is a big overhead. But since MFG Vision switched our hosting over to Amazon Web Services (AWS), to add a dedicated 100GiB storage volume is just a few mouse clicks (well a little more to it than that but I’m not the IT guy!).

From a customer success point of view this is revolutionary. Now with multiple potential customers requiring big data trials at the same time it is not a problem and the cost is manageable as it is only for the life of the trial.

The growth that we’re seeing is quite rapid. In 2015 a large dataset for a trial was around 3GiB, by 2016 more like 15GiB and now in 2017 >30GiB.

Exactly why the value of around 30GiB keeps coming up with different customers is not clear, maybe it is beyond the limitation of some old systems. But with the advantages of private cloud computing we live in a golden age of data.

When you hardly ever have to login to your Yield Management System but still swear by it!

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One of our Semiconductor Yield Management customers hasn’t logged into their yieldHUB system for a couple of months. On the other hand, their data pipeline adds multiple Gigabytes of STDF and WAT/PCM data every month to the database and they swear by the system. How is it that they rarely log in, yet value yieldHUB so highly?

The company in question has generally high yields and on the odd occasion they might have a yield hit on a couple of wafers which need thorough investigation.

What they told us is that they have setup a multitude of alerts and scheduled reports from within yieldHUB. Their users receive emailed reports every day for their key products and they also receive alerts on their phones if there are issues, say with bins or tests or unexpected outliers. The reports are clear and detailed enough to keep them on top of their manufacturing in minutes per day.

The yieldHUB system generates enough detailed reporting automatically, in PDF format attached to an email, to tell them where they have the issues. They tell us that this saves them many hours a week per engineer compared to their previous system which required logging in, finding data to look at, downloading it and then analysing it in Excel. (Even with yieldHUB they would only have to log in, and no data download would be required).

So there you have it! The success of yieldHUB in their eyes is how much time it is saving them and that the time saved can be used for truly value added activities.

Do you think that receiving daily reports and/or alerts from your yield management system would make your engineers more efficient?

 

Chip in with your knowledge and experience for future engineers

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Last week at the ITC 2016 in Dallas Fort Worth we explained to visitors to our booth how yieldHUB “learns with you”.

Right from the get-go using the yieldHUB platform you will be able to add your knowledge of any product and yieldHUB will add to its knowledge base. This is the kind of knowledge that speeds up debug of production issues, related to products, equipment and processes. It saves time and money. Now you have a place to put all this know-how directly where future engineers will be looking at problems and learning from your insights.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-14-20-28In an industry where many engineers of great experience are planning to retire in the next few years, they will be able to store and contextualise in one centralised database an extensive process, test and product engineering knowledge base for the new generation coming in.

This is a huge differentiator in our platform which we have built up over the past few years. The information remains within your installation of yieldHUB and is for your own company’s use.

 

Who should control your Part Average Testing?

autohub_imageWith huge growth in automotive electronics it is not surprising that more semiconductor companies than ever before are starting to use part average testing or PAT. I was recently asked by a fabless company who should have control of their part average testing.

We can start answering this question by explaining how part average testing at wafer sort (probe) works in this modern age.

Wafer sort PAT flow

  • Data from tester and wafer maps from prober sent automatically to a server
  • The server processes the data calculating Dynamic PAT limits per site per wafer
  • Good Die in Bad Neighbourhood (GDBN) is also calculated
  • The wafer map is updated
  • Lot level or wafer level reports are presented to engineers for sign off
  • After sign off updated wafer maps are sent automatically to the assembly house

Who needs to control this?
In the past it was necessary for the test house to have control as the action of calculating and applying different limit sets needed to be close to the testers. With a modern system there is no need to change test limits and as this is done on a private cloud server so the server can be anywhere in the world.

Rather than being required to hand over control to a test house, PAT is now firmly in the control of the product engineers who oversee the manufacturing and product quality. Using private cloud technology means that an engineer can control the system from anywhere in the world. Manufacturing and test can be in Taiwan and the product engineer can be in the USA. Management can also see exactly where the process is up to.

Another key element of putting the fabless company in control is that all data, the original data and the additional data created during PAT and GDBN processing, is stored in the database on the cloud server. So full traceability, every limit for every test site on every wafer with a record of every die through that limit, is stored under the control of the fabless company.

Product quality in the hands of the product owner
With the fabless company, or product group in an IDM, owning the PAT process then it can be setup exactly as needed to give the highest quality for the smallest yield loss. Choose which tests to include in PAT processing and choose which bins to include in GDBN. “Who should control your Part Average Testing?” You should control it, efficiently and from your location.

By Kevin Robinson

MFG Vision deploys yieldHUB successfully at Decawave

YH Fabless

LIMERICK, IRELAND, 19th Sep 2016 — MFG Vision, a leading provider of cloud-based yield management semiconductor solutions, has deployed its flagship product yieldHUB successfully at Decawave.

Decawave designs, develops and manufactures Ultra Wide Band (UWB) precision, location and communication based IC’s. Product Quality is key for Decawave and it’s customers and so from first silicon a high level of importance was placed on yield enhancement and statistical data analysis. This focus has seen yields (and by association, quality) improve quarter on quarter and customer quality metrics trending favorably.

“At Decawave we have used yieldHUB extensively for generic yield enhancement activities but also for more challenging automotive related manufacturing tasks. From day one we’ve found the application and indeed the YieldHUB team to be extremely flexible and accommodating. One of the biggest compliments we can give YieldHUB is that it has the feel of being a customised tool.”, said Andrew Flynn, VP Manufacturing and Quality at Decawave.

“We are delighted with Decawave’s continued success and to have such a pioneering company in the IOT space as a customer. Being able to support companies like Decawave ramp successfully and manage their production and quality as if manufacturing was local to them is core to MFG Vision’s mission in business. ” added John O’Donnell, CEO of MFG Vision Ltd.

About MFG Vision Ltd

MFG Vision Ltd provides Yield Management and Data Analysis software solutions to semiconductor companies and foundries. Their flagship product, yieldHUB, enables collaboration within a globalized manufacturing team by putting manufacturing data and actionable analysis on a private social platform. yieldHUB leverages the power of cloud computing and social networking to improve a product team’s collaboration and ability to impact yields in real-time.

MFG Vision prides itself in the ability to meet and exceed customers’ needs and providing outstanding support to users.

MFG Vision has customers worldwide.

Contact: info@mfgvision.com      +353 61 309745

10 things Fabless Start-ups Should Look for in a Yield Management System

If you are a Fabless start-up and are ramping, you will struggle without some sort of analysis capability for your data in production. You can decide to purchase a system that manages all the data, or alternatively, manage the data yourself and hire an engineer whose job it is to generate reports from the data. He or she may use Excel or some other desk top software tool. Whichever they choose, they will have a full time job just providing the right information from the data coming in, and it will get harder and harder for one person as you ramp, so you may have to hire an extra person also.

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Or you could go for a system solution for about a third of the price of an engineer. The engineer you hire will now spend only a few minutes a day generating reports and the rest of the time adding real insights and value.

This is what a good cloud-based Yield Management system should be able to do for you as you ramp:

  1. Send reports designed by you to your Inbox every morning, tracking your yield, bin distributions and the performance of key tests
  2. Alert you on anything going amiss in production (you tell it the rules), any time of the day
  3. Allow you to get to any amount of detail to discover the root cause of a yield issue
  4. Take care of all your data management and allow you to scale without being concerned about the data system slowing down or creaking (the beauty of the cloud)
  5. Allow you to quickly correlate issues across manufacturing (e.g. from final test back to fab) so you can help your foundry with information that will improve your yield
  6. Enable you to analyse across hundreds of wafers’ worth of data and compare performance by week, by month or by quarter
  7. Handle any data format you have in production: STDF, WAT, csv, .tst etc
  8. Allow you to be in control of quality through providing algorithms like GDBN and PAT to your wafer maps (even handset makers are requiring automotive-like quality now)
  9. Provide sophisticated analysis tools for test and product engineers, for example sensitivity analysis and virtual retest to simulate changing test limits
  10. Allow you to manage your lots on hold and generate your statistical bin limits.

Cloud based yield systems are revolutionising Yield Management and are very affordable now for fabless start-ups. Hire engineers to add value in the lab and not to spend most of their time looking for information in reams of new and old data.

Contact MFG Vision today to see a demo of such a system.

Are My Yields too Good to Even Bother with YMS?

A Yield Management System (YMS) is virtually essential these days to manage volumes of product with fewer available engineers. But when your semiconductor yields in final test or wafer sort are already in the high nineties, why indeed would you need a Yield Management System like yieldHUB?

This is a question we received only the other day from a prospect. We also had this question a few years ago from an Israeli company in a similar stage of growth as the prospect, whose yields typically were also above 98%. They didn’t have the money to hire another product engineer, preferring to invest more on the design side and on a yield system which could predict issues.
Products YH Start HP diagram
The problem the Israeli company recognised was as follows: if something goes wrong, how quickly will they know? Can they even know ahead of time? Their main customer was demanding and had high expectations.

Know issues in advance

So the Israeli company asked us a few years ago: can we make sure that they get a daily report that their management can specify? Also, can they correlate yield with fab parameters and, very importantly, set alerts on the key fab parameters so they know weeks in advance if there could be a yield hit in final test?

In other words, they would know well ahead of time if a lot would yield poorly and be able to do something about it (e.g. replace the wafers). It also meant that they had a system that they only needed to use on exception, therefore reducing the need for hiring an extra product engineer.

Keep your delivery promises to your customers

Of course these are now fundamental features of yieldHUB: scheduled reports in your Inbox as regularly as you need them, correlation reports highlighting the key fab parameters influencing yield, and alerts that you receive when such parameters behave unexpectedly so you have time to do something about it and not affect your delivery schedules later on.

If you have high yields and customers who always need on time delivery, a system like yieldHUB can help you keep your promises. If you still rely on analysis after the event instead of using ongoing reports and alerts, maybe you should also consider such a systematic approach that yieldHUB can give you.

Contact MFG Vision today if you think that predicting issues from Fab data can help you deliver on time and if you think automated reports and alerts could help you in your day-to-day operations and yield management. The system will pay for itself in a matter of months.