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Technology / AI and automation


A pair of companies, Bitstream Inc of Belmont, California, and Universal end Point of San Jose have come up with extensions to the Apple Macintosh that enable it to be used in process applications. Bitstream’s offering is a data acquisition package for the Mac designed to enable process engineers to collect data from semiconductor fabrication equipmemt. Called Process Station, the package collects the data via an SECS-II communications link to the Macintosh serial port. Data can either be plotted on the fly or saved to disk to be loaded into an spreadsheet for further analysis. Parameters that can be monitored include gas flows, pressures, temperatures, power, light intensity, and focus. Bitstream sees the Macintosh as the ideal system for the job because it is cheap, has standard high-resolution graphics, uses the 68000 microprocessor and is easy to use and to move around. Process Station needs a 512Kb Macintosh with internal 800Kb floppy and costs $3,500. The Universal end Point package takes the Mac a step further into the manufacturing process using its eP-8000 package, which consists of an 8-channel analogue input device that sits under the Mac, and a software package that enables the user to view data and design and test endpoint algorithms. Once set up, the eP-8000 system runs automatically by synchronising its operation with that of the etching system. The program is also heuristic, learning the etch recipe and step being use to process wafers, and can select the associated endpoint recipe from disk. It also works on a step-by-step basis for multilayer processing where different plasma chemistry is used to etch each layer. As endpoint recipes are displayed on the screen in graphic form, the user can modify the endpoint by clicking the mouse. Up to eight graphic windows can be displayed at any one time – one window for each analogue input channel – in real time. The software also supports zooming, automatic scaling, slope or etch rate computation, drag, and resizing. Interfacing the eP-8000 system can be made by either parallel TTL control, SECS-II, or AME-8100 through the Macintosh serial port. Requiring the same Macintosh hardware configuration as Bitstream’s Process Station, the eP-8000 is available now and costs $7,300.

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CBR Staff Writer

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