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IC test group intends to devise ATE standards

Posted: 30 Oct 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:automatic test equipment  ATE standards  pre-competitive collaboration 

Advantest, Amkor, Infineon, Intel, LTX-Credence, Qualcomm, Roos Instruments, Teradyne, and Verigy have come together under a new organisation to foster pre-competitive collaboration and standards in automatic test equipment (ATE).

The group, dubbed the Collaborative Alliance for Semiconductor Test (CAST), intends to devise ATE standards, define and measure benchmark criteria, and act as a representative and an advocate for the members.

The group said it ''seeks broad participation within the industry to engage in and resolve common industry issues that will ultimately lead to higher equipment utilisation, easier line balancing and greater return on investment for equipment users, and lower redundant R&D costs in non-differentiating product areas for test equipment providers.''

"Our goal is to collaborate across company boundaries in critical areas of concern while retaining free and full competition," said Debbora Ahlgren, vice president and chief marketing officer of Verigy Inc., and co-chair of the CAST planning group, in a statement.

"CAST's charter combined with broad industry participation presents a unique opportunity to collaborate on standards and define clear and achievable goals that will benefit the entire industry," added Don Edenfeld of Intel Corp. and CAST planning group co-chair.

CAST appears to be an outgrowth of the Semiconductor Test Consortium (STC). Several years ago, Intel, Advantest and others formed the STC.

The STC's goal was to develop a common and standard ATE platform. In effect, ATE vendors were supposed to develop "ATE clones." In other words, ATE vendors built a common platform. Each platform was supposed to support interchangeable ATE modules.

The STC fell short of those goals. Only one vendor built a tester based on the group's specifications: Advantest Corp. Other ATE vendors refused to follow suit.

On the other hand, Intel benefited from the programme. Advantest rolled out a new tester, dubbed the T2000. Intel procured a slew of those systems, which, in turn, are said to have lowered its overall test costs.

The STC is still alive and well. On Monday, the STC announced that new members Aeroflex Inc., Geotest-Marvin Test Systems Inc., and National Instruments Corp. have joined to support the Portable Test Instrument Module (PTIM) Working Group efforts.

This is part of the Semiconductor Test Interface eXtensions (STIX) initiative. The STIX initiative is aimed at addressing rising cost and efficiency challenges in ATE.

The STIX initiative encompasses both open hardware and software specifications. Key to the STIX initiative is the continual formation of new technical, industry-driven working groups to address these peripheral areas that are strategically created to appeal to a broad audience critical to test.

The new working groups will join a handful of STC working groups already focused on hardware docking, probe cards, Standard Test Interface Language (STIL), and joint industry-university research projects.

-Mark LaPedus
EE Times<





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