ATE suppliers such as LTX-Credence Corp. (LTXC) are turning to Tektronix MDO4000 mixed domain oscilloscopes to speed up production testing during the development of ATE applications.
Production testing is usually conducted at the end of the line during semiconductor design and manufacturing, when chip designers are mostly running behind schedule on their designs. Since automated test equipment (ATE) solutions can’t be put in place until the chip design is completed, this inevitably puts pressure on ATE suppliers such as LTXC to help get the project back on schedule.
Craig Vieira, senior RF applications engineer for LTXC explains that time to market is critical in this business.
RF front-end devices such as those often tested by LTXC customers present a difficult RF test challenge. Testing these devices typically involves creating a custom test board for each new device to be tested. The test board is used to mate the device under test signals with the ATE system resources.
In a typical job, LTXC engineers such as Vieira start with a data sheet that provides the details of the device to be tested. Tests can include power measurements or power consumption on the DC side as well as RF tests to look at critical parameters. LTXC engineers then develop a test plan, configure the test system, design the test board and write test applications.
During development and debug of the ATE application, LTXC engineers in the past turned to a combination of spectrum analysers, oscilloscopes and logic analysers, which involved time-consuming processes and complex test configurations.
The arrival of the new MDO4000 mixed domain oscilloscope in LTXC labs created considerable interest as to whether it could indeed speed up test system debug processes. Based on the popular MSO4000 mixed signal oscilloscope that combines analogue and digital inputs, the MDO4000 includes a full spectrum analyser in a single instrument in addition to four analogue inputs, 16 digital inputs and one RF input. For LTXC, the real highlight was integrated timing and triggering across the time and frequency domains.
To see if the MDO4000 was a good fit for LTXC’s busy lab environment, Vieira tested the instrument and obtained a result in about 30 minutes compared to hours using the older method. The evaluation test consisted of setting up an SPI bus (using three digital channels in a bus configuration with lines for CLK, DATA and ENABLE) and triggering with the objective to measure the settling time of a synthesiser.
Based on Vieira’s evaluation, LTXC added an MDO4000 to its lab instrument line-up. The MDO4000 mixed domain oscilloscope has been received extremely well by the engineers in the RF group. Thanks to its portability and versatility, the MDO4000 is being used every day for a variety of test and measurement tasks including decoding SPI or 12C bus data and matching it to RF signals.
Tektronix products are available from TekMark Australia