High Volume Production Test of Gigabit SerDes Ports: Meeting the Economic and Technical Challenges

To address the challenges of high volume production test of Gigabit SerDes Ports, Xcerra has successfully developed an unconventional CMOS-based low power SerDes test instrument that has 32 transmit and 24 receive channels respectively for the Diamondx and DxV tester platform.  The HSI1x instrument has been designed for both laboratory usage and high volume production needs.  This accomplishment was made possible by leveraging Xcerra’s decades of experience in designing low-power, high density, air-cooled ATE instrumentation, along with cutting edge SerDes technology and an innovative proprietary interconnect design.  Built upon an inherently source-synchronous architecture, while maintaining complete coherence to the host ATE system, the HSI1x achieves the best balance between ATE flexibility and bench-instrument focused performance. 
August 14, 2018/by Christopher Lemoine

High Volume Production Test of Gigabit SerDes Ports: Economic and Technical Challenges

The data throughput of modern mobile, consumer and automotive SoC devices has soared as high definition video content has become the norm and 5G wireless connectivity has become a reality.  To meet these demands, the latest applications, media and virtual reality processors routinely contain multiple heterogeneous high performance SerDes (Serializer/Deserializer) ports, which must be tested at speed to meet the stringent quality standards of top-tier end customers.  The benefits of SerDes ports over parallel busses are numerous, such as lower power consumption, lower EMI, improved immunity to transmission medium variability, and more efficient usage of PCB area and connector pins.  With sophisticated equalization and error correction schemes, modern SerDes interfaces can achieve incredible chip-to-chip or board-to-board bandwidth on standard PCB material.  
July 31, 2018/by Christopher Lemoine

POGO® Spring Probe Considerations for PCB In-Circuit and Functional Test

PCB test fixture designers have many factors to consider when selecting the proper spring probe for their application. In the world of spring probes, choices and trade-offs abound when it comes to selecting tip geometry, spring force, probe base material and plating.  Choosing the right combination of options greatly impacts test yields, probe life and cleaning frequency.
How do I select the optimum POGO® spring probe for my PCB test application?
March 20, 2018/by Tony DeRosa

Trends in Testing of Analog ICs

“There is a lot of development in op amps,” said Christopher Lemoine, product marketing director in Xcerra’s ATE group in an interview with Semiconductor Engineering. “There are always higher-performance op amps, lower bias currents, getting closer to the rails, you now have zero-headroom op amps where you can operate right down to the ground rail. At the same time, a lot of the performance hasn’t changed a whole lot.”
Brian Bogie, Xcerra’s senior director of product marketing for the Xcerra line aimed at lower-pin count analog and power management devices, notes that is one aspect of the analog world that is very different from other types of devices.
February 27, 2018/by Barbara Loferer

Xcerra Kestrel/X-Series Measures Automotive Radar Chirp Linearity

Collision avoidance radar devices generate bursts of RF energy called ‘Chirps’. Which are transmitted (TX) to be reflected and ultimately received (RX). A Chirp is a sinusoid that increases its frequency linearly. The linearly changing frequency of each chirp can be used to extract vector speed information about the target. EBand Radar devices produce chirps over a bandwidth of 1GHz and, as in this example, near 76GHz. The Kestrel/X-Series measurement system uses a divided copy of the EBand chirps, and then, extracts their frequency vs time modulation ramps. 
December 6, 2017/by Alan Reiss

Combining Grid and Flying Probe test to achieve higher pass rates and better test quality

In the past, there was a strict separation between testing unpopulated circuit boards on a Universal Grid tester and Dedicated tester (both fixture based test systems) and a Flying Probe Test system (FPT) (i.e. fixtureless test system). While high-volume productions were tested using a Universal Grid tester or Dedicated tester, the Flying Probe Tester was mainly used for prototypes or small series production. New developments let PCB manufacturers rethink the role of the FPT.
July 11, 2017/by Marco Rumpel

Connector Design Considerations for the Demanding Medical Market

Challenging environmental conditions and high reliability requirements create the need for can’t fail connectors. This article explores some of the more critical design factors that go into designing a new connector for the medical market. The medical industry requires connectors to reliably operate in a variety of harsh environments. This drives the connector design to be custom, specifically addressing each application’s unique challenges. There are many attributes that must be considered when laying out a connector’s specifications, but they typically fall into 1 of 3 categories: material selection, mechanical properties and electrical specifications. All 3 categories must be considered concurrently to yield a successful connector design.
June 6, 2017/by Tony DeRosa

Test Floor Automation – is it finally due, after years of talking?

While semiconductor front end automation took place years ago, the backend test floor material handling is still barely automated. After decades of just talking about backend automation, there are now signs on the horizon that customers are getting serious about their backend test floor automation. This blog will analyze what mechanisms are driving this trend to automation and what conditions changed to generate first momentum.
May 23, 2017/by Andy Nagy

Flat Probe Technology for RF Test

Today the semiconductor test market is very competitive. This is especially true in the consumable contactor market.
Low operating costs and low average selling prices create low barriers to entry. Micro-organizations plants themselves next to their sole customer and provides fast turn times at competitive prices and onsite support. Although this is acceptable for some it is a risky business model. Furthermore the depth of knowledge of the product and therefore the value add from these micro-organizations is limited.
May 9, 2017/by Barbara Loferer

MEMS sensor testing challenges and requirements

Andreas Bursian, Director InStrip & InMEMS Products, authored an article for Chip Scale Review Magazine, in which he elaborates on the question of what the test requirements for MEMS sensor devices will be in the future. Before he goes into detail, he describes in general what our world will look like in the future shaped by IoT and Industry 4.0
April 25, 2017/by Barbara Loferer

What, when, where – the move to 5G

We recently attended the MWC in Barcelona. It is clear 5G is going to happen; it is just not clear on when it will arrive, and what it will actually consist of when it does. In terms of when, some industry players stated 5G will be earlier than 2020, while others stated later than 2020. Those that ‘want’ it earlier, justified it as ‘the technology that is being used is well understood’; i.e Defense/Mil/Aero have used these technologies, in most cases having either invented or made the technology(ies) viable to manufacture and deploy – albeit in smaller quantities and much higher price points and footprint than what the consumer market for Wireless can support.
April 11, 2017/by Tom Vana

2.5D Adds Test Challenges: Advanced packaging issues in testing interposers, TSVs

OSATs and ATE vendors are making progress in determining what works and what doesn’t in 2.5D packaging, expanding their knowledge base as this evolves into a mainstream technology. Most experts believe that full 3D packaging is at least five years away from mainstream deployment. 2.5D, in contrast, already has made inroads in markets where price sensitivity is low and demand for throughput to memory is extremely high, such as networking, server and graphics applications. Andy Nagy, Senior Director Marketing HG & TCI Operations at Xcerra, recently highlighted the challenges in test handling in an interview with Semiconductor Engineering. The article compiles thoughts of the key players in this market.
March 21, 2017/by Barbara Loferer
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