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

Wireless Test: Too Many Protocols


Testing wireless communications is getting far more difficult as more markets begin adding wireless communications and standards groups push to improve the speed, power and security of existing protocols. There is already a long list of protocols, and it's growing further as new communications technologies are added into the mix. With the addition of 5G, the new 802.11ax standard, and other ... » 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

Looking Back at Board Test


Printed circuit board testing has been around as long as printed circuit boards, also known as printed circuit assemblies and printed wiring boards. PCB technology started in the early 20th century with Thomas Edison and other inventors. As boards shrink to fit inside wearable gadgets and other products with compact form factors, PCB test equipment vendors are addressing new challenges. Boar... » 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

The Week In Review: Manufacturing


Fab tools Applied Materials has officially rolled out the Producer Selectra system, a selective etch tool. The system falls under the loosely defined category called atomic layer etch (ALE). Applied’s technology addresses a number of challenges. Today’s advanced chips have complex structures. They may also have deep and narrow trenches. One of the challenges is the inability of wet ... » read more

The Week In Review: Manufacturing


Cypress Semiconductor has made a bid to buy U.S. memory maker Integrated Silicon Solution Inc. (ISSI). In fact, Cypress may have started a bidding war against a Chinese consortium to buy ISSI. In March, a Chinese consortium of investors led by Summitview Capital entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire ISSI. The proposed transaction values ISSI’s equity at approximately $639.5 mi... » 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

The Week In Review: Manufacturing


The profile of a "tech geek" is typically a male. The label itself has transitioned from a negative to a positive connotation, according to new data from Crucial.com. In fact, almost half of women (45%) identified tech entrepreneurs as the most desirable potential spouse, compared to only 5% of women who would prefer a football player for a spouse. More than one in three women want a significan... » 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

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