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Assessment of integrated circuit tester for high volume and digitized analogue applications

COTRED (cost of test reduction) is an interesting project for the industrial sectors performing integrated circuit (IC) testing, such as semiconductor manufacturers and test houses. The new generation Schlumberger ITS 9000CV is an IC tester, specifically targeted at the microcontroller market. The IC manufacturers need to test their products at several stages of fabrication. This is performed on automatic test equipment (ATE). While testing brings value (quality), it has a cost. For complex devices manufactured in high volume (such as microcontrollers) the cost of test (COT) can reach 30 % of the device cost. Reducing the COT is of paramount importance, as it will have a significant impact on the final price, and this is very important on highly competitive markets.

COTRED, a semiconductor equipment assessment (SEA) project was set up to establish a COT model to prove that, using Schlumberger newest generation of ATE (the ITS9000CV), the COT could be divided by 2, compared to the previous generation of ATE in use. The project also ensured that the reduction in cost did not lead to any loss of test coverage, and that the new tester would meet the challenges of the upcoming ICs, mainly in the microcontroller arena.

The results of the COTRED project are of 3 kinds: the computation method agreed upon by the partners; the figures obtained from the measurements or from the calculations based on those; the values achieved on the ITS9000CV tester. From these an evaluation and analysis tool has been developed for the COT computation. The final and tangible result of the assessment is the availability of a new generation ATE capable of halving the cost of test of microcontrollers, as compared to its predecessor. This has been proven on complex microcontrollers, both digital and with embedded analogue functions.


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