In the manufacture of integrated circuit wafers, the cost of capital equipment is one of the costliest investments. To generate profits, you need to utilize your clean room facilities to their highest capacity. In addition, these tools can be extremely complex to operate. To be successful you have to make the operation consistent and reproducible. You need to do this in a factory environment where you are constantly looking to keep your personnel expenses down. You can’t afford to hire Ph.D. candidates to operate these tools (nor would they want to spend 12 hour shifts doing it!). The answer is automatic, computerized interfaces.
Faced with this challenge, we created an environment where the automated applications were made available to the equipment operators 24X7. To achieve this we used Sun Microsytem’s early entry (25 MB/Sec.) into the fibre channel market, specifically the SSA 100 series storage arrays, and Sun’s Ultra Sparc Enterprise 4000 computers. The data centers, 500 meters apart, were linked with 50 micron core optical fiber. At first, Sun would not certify their host bus adapters for that distance over that type of fiber. We thoroughly tested the implementation and found that at the relatively slow bit rate sustainable on this platform the distance was not an issue. Sun certified this solution through their service arm after reviewing the results of our tests. These systems have been in trouble free operation since 1996.
We used Sun’s Solstice Disk Suite to mirror the data between data centers. At the time we evaluated Veritas Volume Manager and found that Sun had a big leg up in that space. (This later turned around and Sun partnered heavily with Veritas to enable their product to leapfrog Disksuite) We found that Tidal Wave First Watch had been bundled up by the Qualix Group and was fully capable of the complex scripting needed to control the myriad of application software brought to bear on the problem of logical equipment control.
The end result was 6 pairs of primary/secondary computer configurations that controlled over 300 facilities. Studies with the University of Central Florida showed that the uptime of the automated applications helped Lucent save millions of dollars through higher productivity and product yields.