Fieldbus standards: SEMI accepts EtherCAT as a communication standard for semiconductor processing equipment; IEC grants approval
Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) has approved EtherCAT for SEMI applications and has accepted EtherCAT as a SEMI standard. EtherCAT, according to EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) member Beckhoff Automation , is already used in a wide variety of semiconductor and flat-panel-display manufacturing applications. In similar news, ETG says the industrial Ethernet protocol has become an IEC standard.
ETG is an organization in which key user companies from various industries and leading automation suppliers join forces to support, promote and advance EtherCAT technology. With more than 500 members, ETG has become the largest organization in the world exclusively focused on industrial Ethernet technologies. Founded in November 2003, it is also currently the fastest growing fieldbus organization, those involved say. EtherCAT features include high precision device synchronization, a cable redundancy option and a functional safety protocol (SIL3).
The world’s largest supplier of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, Applied Materials , was among the first ETG members back in 2003. The standard was officially introduced to the industry at a SEMI congress held in 2004. A year later, Samsung Electronics developed the first EtherCAT device for ultra high resolution hybrid stage control. About 100 of the now 635 ETG member companies are active in semiconductor manufacturing.
In separate but related news, ETG announced that EtherCAT is now an official IEC standard. The IEC standards for EtherCAT – 61158, 61784-2 and 61800-7 unanimously passed in final voting. This is a major landmark after more than four years of IEC committee work, during which the ETG was declared an official IEC standardization partner. As early as 2005, the EtherCAT specification was published by IEC as IEC/PAS 62407, which is now being replaced by the International Standards.
In IEC 61158, the EtherCAT protocols and services are standardized, while IEC 61784-2 defines profiles for specific device classes. IEC 61800-7 is particularly important for Motion Control applications, ETG says, since it makes EtherCAT a standardized communication technology for the SERCOS and CANopen drive profiles. ETG says this puts EtherCAT on equal footing with SERCOS I-III and CANopen respectively. The drive parameters, state machines and process data layout of the device profiles remain untouched when mapped to EtherCAT. As a result, the user interface does not change when moving from SERCOS and CANopen to EtherCAT, and device manufacturers can re-use major portions of their firmware.
“The successfully completed international standardization is an important milestone for EtherCAT. It helps us machine builders to further increase the acceptance of this superior technology with our key account customers in particular. The device vendors get a complete specification that was written according to international rules,” comments Erich Hutflesz, ETG board member and manager of control systems at Schuler, a global leader in metal forming machine technology.
The EtherCAT Technology Group continues to actively participate in IEC standardization. Currently, “Safety over EtherCAT” is being introduced to the appropriate work groups to include it in the next revision of IEC 61784-3, which is scheduled for 2009.
— C.G. Masi , senior editor and Mark Hoske , editor-in-chief