Develop Semiconductor Wafer Sorter Applications

Type of Service: 
Software Development and Customization
Country: 
United States
Industry: 
Industrial Manufacturing
Duration: 
3 years
Challenge: 

To develop, extend, and maintain the client's product line from a software perspective. The client was in the semiconductor industry, producing a variety of wafer inspection stations and automated wafer sorters. Speed is of the essence for sorters in particular, but reliability is paramount as well - pushing the hardware to sort too quickly could result in wafers being dropped, potentially costing tens of thousands of dollars (e.g. consider an 8-inch wafer having a 10x10 grid of high-end microprocessors on it).

A major part of the challenge was to accommodate the requests of many different customers of the client. Since the client's product line was widely respected in the industry, it saw much use, but the 'drawback' is that different customers would request specific features that only applied to them.

Another challenge was the variety of products offered: there was a stable of corresponding software products that had to be actively maintained, in spite of having a small staff. Systematic Computer Science was expected to work efficiently to help keep many of the client's different products viable.

Solution: 

Systematic Computer Science provided development services to the client, and worked with the client's staff to extend and maintain their software product line. Using careful coding decisions (in C and C++), several different products were kept up-to-date with the changes that invariably were requested by the customers. Both performance and reliability concerns were considered in the code, and extensive testing was used to confirm good handling while sorting wafers.

As part of the development effort over the life of the engagement, Systematic Computer Science successfully delivered solutions that included:

  • highly efficient wafer transportation motions
  • automated character recognition of wafer string identifiers
  • automated recognition of wafer defects using optical analysis
  • user-friendly screens to allow the operator to describe complicated wafer sorting options

Benefits: 

Partially as a result of Systematic Computer Science's efforts, the client's product line become noted in the industry for being especially fast. In the semiconductor industry, processing wafers even 5% faster than a competitor can translate into a significant market advantage. Systematic Computer Science was proud to be a significant part of an organization that was able to push the limits at the time of wafer processing technology.

The client also benefited from Systematic Computer Science's generally highly reliable code, and this also had positive effects for the client in the market.

Systematic Computer Science was instrumental in maintaining and extending the product line for the client for approximately three years. Shortly after that engagement ended, the client was bought by one of the largest suppliers of solutions for the semiconductor industry worldwide.