Can chipmaking get smarter?

A group of companies including chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices is mounting a new effort to create smarter semiconductor-manufacturing equipment.

The group, which also includes domainLogix, ILS Technology and Oceana Sensor Technologies, said this week that it will work to create software and industry standards intended to help make possible--for the first time--online diagnoses of chip-manufacturing equipment.

The trade group Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) will oversee the three-year project, which has a $10 million budget, funded in part by a $5 million grant from the U.S. government's National Institute of Standards and Technology. The remaining $5 million will come from the group's members.

The group's main thrust will be to create a secure method of communications that would allow manufacturing companies to share data online. Using this security framework, chipmakers could share data with the companies that produce their manufacturing equipment and with their own customers.

Ultimately, the group hopes its efforts will result in speedier diagnosis and resolution of problems, which could reduce manufacturing equipment downtime and lead to lower manufacturing costs for products such as microprocessors.

It's no surprise that AMD is in the thick of the new effort. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, often seen as playing second fiddle to Intel's industry lead, has been quietly remaking its image of late, moving away from that of mere chipmaker and toward the role of technology provider.

"AMD wants to be on the leading edge of the development of these systems," said Charles Clark, director of the company's global manufacturing systems.

News source: ZDNet

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