The Future of Testing

System-level testing and other technologies are on deck.

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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 Hewlett-Packard and Agilent Technologies). Those companies will continue to innovate and to improve the capabilities of their products.

System-level test is an emerging technology in the test field. Astronics Test Systems and National Instruments are among the corporate leaders in SLT, and the big ATE suppliers are addressing the technology, too. This area is bound to gain more entrants and wider applications of the technology. Some old-line vendors will claim, “We’ve always done system-level test,” but not by that nomenclature, of course.

New testing techniques are needed for advanced IC packaging, such as wafer-level fan-out packaging and packages with stacked chips (2.5D and 3D ICs). Microelectromechanical system devices and MEMS sensors call for their own testing methods. The use of MEMS sensors in the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, and other applications will grow over time, driving the need for volume-production-level testing.

As technology evolves, and demand increases for next-generation chips in artificial intelligence, augmented/virtual reality, deep learning, machine learning, and other areas, testing will see more paradigm shifts.

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