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

Addressing Test Time Challenges


Unit test time on automated test equipment (ATE) is one of the major components that affects the total cost of manufacturing for semiconductor suppliers. The test programs for each unit can be comprised of thousands of parametric and functional tests that are performed to screen out defective units or dies. However, tester time is expensive, so suppliers are always looking for ways to reduce th... » read more

Standardizing Platforms From Characterization To Production


In 1983, the first commercial mobile phone retailed for $3995, almost $10,000 in today’s economy. It supported a single band, weighed almost a kilogram, and was about the size of a brick. Two decades later, a quad-band “world phone” costs a few hundred dollars. Even a basic mobile phone that supports over 20 cellular bands, in addition to Bluetooth, Wireless LAN, and GPS technology, ... » read more

Analog Fault Simulation Challenges And Solutions


The test time for digital circuit blocks in ICs has greatly decreased in the last 20 years, thanks to scan-based design-for-test (DFT), automatic test pattern generation (ATPG) tools, and scan compression. These technologies have greatly reduced the number of test vectors applied by automatic test equipment (ATE) while maximizing the coverage of a wide range of defect types. But for analog c... » read more

A New Approach For IC Test


Since its inception, a founding principle of the semiconductor industry has been to continually improve performance while driving down cost. In other words, offer more for the money. However, amid greater device complexity, shorter product cycles, and relentless cost pressure, the test portion represents an increasing percentage of the total IC cost and a significant part of the product develop... » read more

ATE: The Road Ahead


Watching the ATE market is like having a front-row seat to watch the semiconductor industry's ups and downs, with none of the hype to confuse you. So 2014 was a very good market for SoC test, and it likewise a good year for SoCs. As we head into the latter half of this year and into 2016, however, a projected downturn in the mobile arena will likely put a crimp in those earnings. The prob... » read more

Fab Tool R&D And Ramen Noodles


The semiconductor equipment and materials industry has always been a tough business. Over the years, vendors have been under pressure to develop new technologies for a shrinking but demanding customer base. And as a result, many vendors could not keep up, or elected to exit the business, causing a massive shakeout in the industry. It isn’t getting any easier, though. Today, tool and... » read more

How To Test IoT Devices


At a recent event, test experts said the IC industry needs a new paradigm in testing chips for the [getkc id="76" comment="Internet of Things"] (IoT). The message was fairly simple to interpret. Existing automatic test equipment (ATE) is well suited to test today’s digital, analog, and mixed-signal chips, though it may be ill-equipped or too expensive to test IoT-based devices. But wha... » read more

ATE Market Gets More Crowded


Over the years, the automatic test equipment (ATE) industry has undergone a dramatic shakeout. In fact, the ATE industry has shrunk from about a dozen major vendors several years ago to just three sizable companies today. There is also a smattering of smaller ATE players in the market. In other words, the big ATE vendors became bigger and the mid-sized players were gobbled up. The consol... » read more

Five Disruptive Test Technologies


For years, test has been a critical part of the IC manufacturing flow. Chipmakers, OSATs and the test houses buy the latest testers and design-for-test (DFT) software tools in the market and for good reason. A plethora of unwanted field returns is not acceptable in today’s market. The next wave of complex chips may require more test coverage and test times. That could translate into higher... » read more

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