The seamless integration of CodeMeter with flagship semiconductor factory-automation software results in a foolproof licensing solution and a robust protection against unauthorized software use, ensuring full accountability, flexibility, and transparency.
CodeMeter offers futuristic licensing model for KINESYS semiconductor factory-automation software
Safeguarding licensing and revenue streams
KINESYS Software provides both Integrated Device Manufacturer (IDM) and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) customers world-class software products and solutions for advanced wafer and device traceability and process management. KINESYS offers state of the art database technology with a core focus on SEMI standards. KINESYS’ challenge was to make back-end processing failure-free and easy to use for clients while supporting licensing models more adaptable to changing industry needs.
KINESYS integrates Wibu-Systems’ CodeMeter® into its Assembly Line Production Supervisor (ALPS) flagship product. Originally developed as a wafer mapping application, ALPS features mapping for all kinds of substrates used in semiconductor plants (wafer maps, strip maps, tray maps, etc.), as well as tracking of devices through the multiple processes used in semiconductor assembly and encapsulation. Combining KINESYS’ expertise with Wibu-Systems’ technology delivers a neat solution on a dongle, combining security with license accountability and flexibility, as well as total transparency for end users.
First, customers are satisfied: the software component of CodeMeter integrates seamlessly with the KINESYS ALPS software during the process of identifying and isolating defects in the high volume production of super sophisticated chips. Security and functionality is built-in and invisible to the end user. KINESYS is able to both automate and protect its revenue stream while leaving the door open to more sophisticated licensing models in line with the constant evolution of chip designs and manufacturing techniques.
KINESYS Software is an independent supplier of software products and services for factory automation applications in the semiconductor industry. A privately held company, KINESYS is focused on the automation of semiconductor manufacturing “back-end” processes, offering innovative software products and expert support services for data management and equipment integration aimed at inkless assembly and single device tracking.
Dave Huntley, Founder and CEO, KINESYS Software “KINESYS plus Wibu-Systems is proving to be a winning combination. In addition to providing a foolproof integrated licensing solution, it blocks unauthorized use of our software. Securing our software is a requisite, but it should not be an inconvenience in everyday use in a manufacturing production control environment. That’s why we pay so much attention to both functionality and quality. We have been pleased with the partnership with Wibu-Systems as it provides complete satisfaction, and operationally it is fully transparent to customers. What is also important is that this collaboration gives us the opportunity to future-proof our product in line with more flexible licensing models linked to SEMI standards and manufacturers evolving manufacturing needs.”
Wibu-Systems and KINESYS
Since 1992, KINESYS, a Silicon Valley and Netherlands based company, has developed software that allows leading chip manufacturers to automate key processes in manufacturing facilities around the world.
British electronics engineer Dave Huntley fine-tuned his craft in the early, fast-growing electronics industry of Silicon Valley. Huntley’s current focus is on back-end processing, and testing of individual chips on the wafer. In the past, this was done unit-by-unit, applying ink on wafers to detect defective copies optically. Optical recognition is slow and costly and, with the ever-increasing density of the circuits, ink pollution became unacceptable.
“Our solution was to use a BIN code for each element on a wafer and to store wafer map files on hard disk,” explains Huntley. “In this way information about the product and the production process is captured and added to a database.” Another issue was that testing and assembly can take place in separate factory locations - different places around the world with various types of machines using proprietary data formats.
To resolve this KINESYS adapted its software to a common format to send messages between test and assembly then to production machines. “This readable data process is much faster than optical recognition and eliminates the issue of pollution.” The semiconductor industry organization SEMI helped by creating industry standards, allowing Huntley to build on his pioneering work to standardize for all types of substrates (wafers, strips and trays).
Over the years, KINESYS continued to develop software linked to trends in the industry. Multiple chips were often packaged into a variety of devices used increasingly in markets sectors where a chip defect could cost lives, such as medical, aerospace, and automotive systems. Devices became lighter, smaller, and thinner, making semiconductor assembly in large volumes a highly sophisticated industry.
Today, the testing and tracing of individual chips is a critical process. Huntley: “A multi-chip device is only as good as its weakest link, so it is crucial to track each chip placement to avoid placing expensive chips alongside failed chips. Without a high-quality, fully automated process, end product wastage and risk can be incalculable.”
To protect the invaluable information related to the automation process, KINESYS relies on CodeMeter, the proprietary technology from Wibu-Systems for protection, licensing, and security against piracy, reverse engineering, tampering, and cyber-attacks. The USB CmSticks, which are delivered with each piece of equipment, embed a smart card chip where the encryption key and the license information are securely stored. The dongle form factor offers the strongest security against any hacking attempt, and is not invasive as it just needs to be present for the system to run without additional intervention from the user.
To set up its revenue stream KINESYS benefits from an accurate record of the use of its software thanks to Wibu-Systems. Customers pay a license fee for each individual piece of production equipment to which the software connects. Although this remains the primary license model, Huntley has high expectations for other license models based, for example, on data volume and for subscription license models, as customers evolve to a higher level of product cost accountability.
“It is now common for the cost of the software and the equipment to be attributable to the total capital expenditures of a microchip factory. The equipment-connect license fits well with this cost accounting model but we expect the flexibility to deploy other license models will allow us to evolve in line with the customers appreciation of more cost accountable manufacturing techniques.” Dave Huntley, Founder and CEO, KINESYS Systems