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New IC test group consolidates ATE standards

Posted: 30 Oct 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:automatic test equipment? standard? collaboration?

Advantest Corp., Amkor Technology, Infineon, Intel Corp., LTX-Credence, Qualcomm, Roos Instruments, Teradyne Inc., and Verigy Ltd have collaborated under a new group to foster precompetitive partnership and standards in automatic test equipment (ATE).

The group, dubbed the Collaborative Alliance for Semiconductor Test (CAST), seeks to foster precompetitive team-up, devise ATE standards, define and gauge benchmark criteria, and act as a representative and an advocate for the members.

CAST said the group wants broad participation within the industry to join and resolve common industry issues that will ultimately lead to higher equipment usage, easier line balancing and greater return on investment for equipment users, and reduce 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, VP and chief marketing officer, Verigy Inc. and co-chair of the CAST planning group, in a statement.

"CAST's charter integrated with wide industry participation gives a unique opportunity to collaborate on standards and define clear and achievable goals that will benefit the entire industry," added Don Edenfeld, 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 expected to create "ATE clones." In other words, ATE vendors built a common platform. Each platform was supposed to back 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.

Meanwhile, Intel benefited from the program. Advantest released T2000, a new tester. Intel procured a slew of those systems, which, in turn, are believed to have minimized its overall test costs.

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

This is part of the Semiconductor Test Interface eXtensions (STIX) initiative. The initiative has an objective of addressing increasing cost and efficiency challenges in ATE.

It encompasses both open hardware and software specifications. Key to this 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 wide audience critical to test.

The new working groups will have a handful of STC working teams already focused on hardware docking, probe cards, standard test interface language and joint industry-university research projects.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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