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NI lowers semiconductor ATE cost with PXI-based test systems

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National Instruments Aust & NZ introduces the NI Semiconductor Test System (STS) series, the PXI-based automated test systems designed to reduce test cost for RF and mixed-signal devices by opening access to NI- and industry-offered PXI modules in semiconductor production test environments.

Compared to conventional semiconductor automated test equipment (ATE), STS users gain from reduced production costs and increased throughput, allowing them to perform both characterisation and production with the same hardware and software tools, resulting in reduced data correlation time and time to market.

According to Dr Hans-Peter Kreuter, senior design and application engineer for automotive body power products at Infineon Technologies, when the complexity of integrated circuits grows exponentially, it is important to use cost-effective ATE that provides optimal test coverage in applications from design verification to end-of-line production testing. He adds that in mixed-signal tests, the PXI-based STS outperforms the traditional ATE with optimal test coverage at a very low cost.

Unlike traditional ATE with its closed architecture, NI’s STS has an open, modular architecture, which gives engineers access to cutting-edge PXI instrumentation. This is particularly important for RF and mixed-signal test, as the requirements of the latest semiconductor technologies often outpace the test coverage provided by traditional ATE.

STS is powered by TestStand test management software and LabVIEW system design software, and comes with a rich set of features for semiconductor production environments, including a customisable operator interface, handler/prober integration, device-centric programming with pin-channel mapping, standard test data format reporting and integrated multisite support. These features enable engineers to quickly develop, debug and deploy test programs, shortening overall time to market.

Features such as the fully enclosed ‘zero-footprint’ test head, standard interfacing and docking mechanics allow easy integration of the STS into a semiconductor production test cell.

Glen Peer, director of test for Integrated Device Technology (IDT) comments that traditional ATE systems require major costly retooling efforts on the test floor as generations of test systems become obsolete or are unable to meet new test requirements; however, the open PXI architecture of the STS helps them retain their original investment and build upon it, providing them the flexibility to reconfigure and grow their test platforms in parallel with growing performance needs.

The STS series includes three different models named T1, T2 and T4, which accommodate one, two and four PXI chassis, respectively. The varying sizes combined with common software, instrumentation and interconnect mechanics across all STS models allow engineers to optimise for a wide range of pin-count and site-count requirements.

STS’ scalability makes it practical to deploy from characterisation to production with the benefit of not only optimised cost, but greatly simplified data correlation to further shorten time to market.

NI also provides training, products and services supported by NI engineering professionals and NI Alliance Partners throughout the world, ensuring success for the customer.

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