For this blog entry I decided to explore the risks and rewards of introducing a new test platform into a company’s operations.
Earlier this year, we ran a number of blogs that looked at ways of reducing the cost of test. This ranged from multisite test strategies in general, to reduction in program development times. Another area that was discussed was the use of lower cost testers in production. While these areas will continue to have a high level of importance in reducing the cost of test moving forward, they are all tester or isolated test cell centric.
What in the world is IMA? For those of you who have not heard us talk about IMA before it stands for Integrated Multi-System Architecture. I’m sure your thinking great, now what does that mean! While my blog entries are generally discussing topics not specific to LTXC products or solutions I’m going to fly a little close to the sun on this one. One reason is that while IMA was developed for LTXC test systems the concept is one that can be applied to any tester family, assuming of course the physical size of the tester is conducive to an IMA based solution. The other reason is that IMA can have a dramatic impact on lowering the cost of test.
Design Validation vs. Production Test
As I began to think about this topic I realized there were quite a few different directions I could take this subject. How can design and test engineering work closer together to make test program development more efficient? What can be done to speed up the initial coding of a test program? As DUT boards get more complex because of the drive to multisite, how can we work to shorten the time from design to fabrication? What other aspects of the program development process can we look at to collapse the time to release a program to production?
How well does the single platform strategy for test fit with the reality of today’s semiconductor landscape?
So my first blog posting on this topic set the stage by delving into the root cause of the challenges and opportunities we face as an industry, the consumer. I want to thank everyone that took the time to read the post, more than 500 people in less than a week, and especially the people that took the time to comment. It is a very important topic and the more discussion we have, and ideas we exchange, the better for all.
It’s not unusual to hear presentations from semiconductor company executives discussing (complaining about) the relatively high cost of test in the manufacturing of an IC. Significant advances have been made in the front end manufacturing process for an IC, while the cost of test has remained relatively high.
Energy conservation is a good thing right? So what about applying energy conservation to semiconductor test equipment? It makes financial sense to consider operating costs, especially electricity costs, when selecting a test system. In some cases the savings on electricity costs over a multi-year period can lead to one of the tester actually paying for itself. Depending on the region and the testers being compared the annual savings could reach $30K – $50K per year!