A Year of Progress for CAST


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A Year of Progress for CAST

The economic crisis and the industry’s quest for lower “cost of test” created a stronger push for greater collaboration in the semiconductor test industry. In 2008, the STC initiated the effort to form a new global Collaborative Alliance for Semiconductor Test (CAST) organization, with goals of having full industry representation and moving under an existing established industry organization. CAST founding members include:

  • Advantest
  • Amkor
  • Infineon
  • Intel
  • LTX-Credence
  • Qualcomm
  • Roos
  • Teradyne
  • Verigy

In January 2009, CAST was moved under SEMI as a SIG (Special Interest Group). One of reasons that CAST selected SEMI as a host organization was the SEMI formal, mature standards process. The CAST charter is to:

    1. Act as a representative and an advocate for the members and foster pre-competitive collaboration

    2. Perform pre-competitive benchmarks; research, develop and promote standards that enable industry productivity improvements

Objective #1: Member Advocate

The first CAST objective involves acting as a representative and an advocate for the members. One tactic involves formulating the message of test “value add” in the industry and driving an information agenda.

On April 1, 2009, John Adams from Teradyne welcomed the 75+ attendees (from 45 companies) at the Collaborative Alliance for Semiconductor Test (CAST) meeting at SEMI.

April 1, 2009: CAST kick off meeting at SEMI Headquarters in San Jose, Calif.

For more information on the April 2009 CAST meeting (including presentation slides and breakout session notes, please visit: http://www.semi.org/en/IndustrySegments/Test/Cast/ctr_028622

Another tactic involves sponsoring the SEMICON West Test Day event to encourage discussion and debate about the current state and future of the industry. The New Test Solutions TechXPOT addressed the latest innovations in test technologies and ideas that meet today's need for lower costs, system solutions, and new test requirements. The New Test Strategies TechXPOT provided insights into the new test strategies and test challenges by the leading device makers, experts and OSATS. In addition, an Executive Test Summit featured all four major ATE companies’ CEO/Presidents. Rick Nelson moderated the panel which consisted solely of Q&A. To view CAST Work Group updates from SEMICON West 2009, please click here

In addition, the “member advocate” role requires interfacing with academia to drive a closer working relationship with industry and assist in government lobbying for research funding.

Currently, CAST has been working with the semiconductor Mixed-Signal Test department of Texas A&M to update their original education survey. The goal of the survey is to collect information from industry regarding undergraduate university curriculum for test engineers in order to improve the program.

Objective #2: Pre-Competitive Benchmarks; Promote Standards

The second CAST objective involves performing pre-competitive benchmarks. In the last year, CAST worked on establishing an efficiency baseline using new or established efficiency metrics.

Test Cell Communication (TCC) Working Group

Meetings: April 1 (San Jose), July 15 (San Francisco, Calif.), October 6 (San Jose), and December 16 (San Jose, Calif) in 2009 and February 24 (Conf. call) and March 24 (San Jose, Calif.) in 2010.

Progress: The Test Cell Workgroup is the most active. The TCC WG was formed to developing and advance standards in the area of equipment communication within a test cell and communication with the external manufacturing environment. The goal is to make setup, testing and data collection more streamlined, allowing different equipment and data collection entities to work together seamlessly. The group has representation from the broad semiconductor market, encompassing all of the major Automatic Test Equipment, material handling and software companies.

During the July 15, 2009 meeting, the group felt that a common method of communicating to probers and handlers was needed. However, the general consensus was that we would not influence the large installed base of this type of equipment. Mark Roos proposed a forward-looking view of the overall test cell and define how to influence or drive a data-centric view of the test cell as opposed to an equipment-centric view. This focused the meeting on what a data-centric test cell would look like. The goal of this new model would be to define expanded capability and added value that would drive customers and suppliers alike to implement. Once established, legacy equipment could be accommodated in the new model via software modules or adaptors of some kind.

The CAST Test Cell Communication met on December 16, 2009 at SEMI in San Jose. The group selected the tester as its focus and defined a set of specifications to move forward with. It generated a specification for interacting with a tester inside of a test cell. In essence, the group defined a "portal" to access the tester in a standardized fashion.

On March 24, 2010, the Test Cell Communication WG met at SEMI HQ to begin a more in-depth definition of test cell topology and communication methods moving forward. This topology needs to be compatible with existing, legacy setups while creating a foundation for future improvements. The group came to a consensus on a general topology and architecture for the test cell. The group also discussed the notion of "services" that different elements within the test cell need to receive for proper operation and need to supply for other elements to function correctly. The next steps for the WG involve using the concept of services and describing the current test cell functionality in those terms. With this as the base, existing test cells will be compatible in the new topology and improvements going forward will build on this foundation.

Members include: Somnath Sen (Consultant), Hunter Xu, Mark Roos (Roos Instruments), Anant Anavkar (iSoft Group), Lonny Plummer (Kinesys Software), Emilio Salvioni (Sallan Engineering), John Bearden (Consultant), Len Van Eck (LTXC); Mark Roos (Roos Instruments; Joe Barnhart (Roos Instr.); Joel Taylor and Steve Ledford (Verigy); Edward Smith (Salvador); Bill Fritzsche (LTXC); Andrew Gilligan (LTXC); Michael Lyman (Optimal Test); Don Hartman; Andy Aagaard (Intel); Sergio Perez; Velencia De La Vega (Intel); George Brizicky (Teradyne); Andrew Chase (Zenpire); Dean Hedstrom (Aetrium); Kevin Miles (Pintail tech.); Tsurta Yota (TEL); Yuhai Ma and Rudra Kar (Advantest); Ajay Khoche (Consultant).

2. Common STDF Format & Customization Syntax/API

Meetings: The STDF Fail Datalog Working Group met during SEMICON West 2009.

Progress: The STDF WG has held regular monthly meetings throughout the year. Currently this WG is finalizing a STDF Memory extension record standards document that will go out for balloting in the next SEMI standards cycle.

Members: Bill Price (T2C2), Wes Smith (Galaxy Semi), Cy Hay (Synopsys), Keith Arnold (Pintail), John Beardon (Beardon Consulting), Thierry De Villeneue (ST Micro Electronics), Ajay Khoche (Independent).

3. Bench Top and PTIM Standards

Progress: The group reviewed history to increase awareness of problem statement, types of PTIM devices, and charter before diving into a technical overview of PXI and LXI. This was an action item from the last PTIM meeting, and was an important step for consensus back when PTIM was part of STC. The purpose was to increase awareness of the form-factor, general capabilities, and what is (and is not) defined in the standards' specifications. The pros and cons of industry standards were discussed as they relate to ATE. Then the group looked at progress on the guidelines document.

Members: The PTIM Working Group Chair is Chris White (NI) and Paul Roddy is the CAST representative. Other members include: Scott Savage (NI); Tod Gutfeldt and Todd Luppin, Rudra Kar (Advantest); Kegin Fetterly (Apria Tech); David Oka (LOA Tech); Thijs Waardenburg (Aeroflex); Edward Smith (Salvador and Smith); Bruce Parnas, Anil Godbole, Glen Gomes (Event Based Technologies).

Upcoming Test Events

For information on test events at SEMICON West 2010, please visit: http://www.semiconwest.org/Segments/Test/index.htm. For more information on CAST, visit http://www.semi.org/en/IndustrySegments/Test/Cast/index.htm.

May 4, 2010