The Future of Testing


In our previous test blog posts, we looked at the history of automated test equipment for semiconductors and for printed circuit boards. This month, we look ahead to the test technologies that are emerging. The chip ATE field has essentially boiled down to Advantest, Teradyne, and Xcerra (LTX-Credence), while the board test market is dominated by Teradyne and Keysight Technologies (formerly ... » read more

The Week In Review: Manufacturing


Fab equipment and test VLSI Research has released its top 10 semiconductor equipment supplier ranking in terms of sales in 2016. Applied Materials topped the list again, achieving a growth of 18%. ASML was second, followed by Lam Research, TEL and KLA-Tencor. Fig. 1: Ranking based on 2016 sales. Source: VLSI Research. Unic Capital Management, a Chinese-based private equity fund, announ... » read more

Time For Massively Parallel Testing


Time is money in electronics, as in other industries, and the more time that is invested in testing chips means more costs being added to the product in question. To speed up testing for memory devices and other semiconductors, test equipment vendors have resorted to parallel testing technology, simultaneously testing multiple chips at a time. The industry also is turning to system-level tes... » read more

A Brief History of Test


The history of semiconductor test systems is the subject of this blog post. We’ll turn to printed circuit board testing at another time. Boston-based Teradyne sold its D133 diode tester to Raytheon in 1961. Five years later, it introduced the J259 integrated circuit tester, which had a minicomputer to run the test programs. For many, this marks the beginning of automatic (or automated) tes... » read more

GPU Accelerated Computing


The computing applications used in semiconductor design and manufacturing have ever-increasing requirements for speed, accuracy and reliability. The continuation of Moore's Law creates a perpetual demand for greater accuracy as, with each new process node, larger numbers of increasingly smaller features are crowded onto each mask and wafer. Computing farms, where thousands of central processing... » read more

Mask Maker Worries Grow


Photomasks are becoming more complex and expensive at each node, thereby creating a number of challenges on several fronts. For one thing, the features on the [getkc id="265" kc_name="photomask"] are becoming smaller and more complex at each node. Second, the number of masks per mask-set are increasing as a result of multiple patterning. Third, it costs more to build and equip a new mask fab... » read more

Taming Mask Metrology


For years the IC industry has worried about a bevy of issues with the photomask. Mask costs are the top concern, but mask complexity, write times and defect inspection are the other key issues for both optical and EUV photomasks. Now, mask metrology, the science of measuring the key parameters on the mask, is becoming a new challenge. On this front, mask makers are concerned about the critic... » read more

The Week In Review: Manufacturing


Upgraded components in the new iPhone 6S Plus from Apple cost $16 more than the components in the earlier iPhone 6 Plus, according to IHS, which also provided a breakdown of the phone. Both Samsung and TSMC are making Apple’s A9 applications processor on a foundry basis, according to ExtremeTech, which cites Chipworks as its source. There are reports that the Chinese government is interes... » read more

Mask Metrology Challenges Grow


Photomasks are becoming more complex at each node. In fact, masks are moving from traditional shapes to non-orthogonal patterns and complex shapes, such as curvilinear mask patterns. To measure patterns and shapes on the mask, photomask makers use traditional critical-dimension scanning electron microscopes (CD-SEMs). In general, the CD-SEM, the workhorse metrology tool in the mask shop, use... » read more

The Week In Review: Manufacturing


SEMI released its book-to-bill report for the North American semiconductor industry. The ratio was 1.02 for the month of July, up from 0.98 in June and 0.99 in May. The ratio is a three-month moving average of bookings and billings, and for July the average hit $1.559 billion. That's the highest so far this year, and it's up 12.5% year over year. Brooks Automation acquired Contact Co.,... » read more

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