Progress at CAST KickOff Meeting at SEMI

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Progress at CAST KickOff Meeting at SEMI

John Adams from Teradyne welcomed the 75+ attendees at the Collaborative Alliance for Semiconductor Test (CAST) meeting at SEMI on April 1. The CAST charter includes:

  • Foster pre-competitive collaboration
  • Research, develop and promote standards that enable industry productivity improvements
  • Perform pre-competitive benchmarks
  • Act as a representative and an advocate for the members

Adams discussed how CAST was formed in 2008 and moved under SEMI as a SIG (Special Interest Group) in January 2009. One of reasons that CAST selected SEMI as a host organization was the SEMI formal, mature standards process. Currently, CAST is consolidating other industry working groups that were in operation, and is looking to form new additional working groups. CAST is now asking for formation of a standards committee to support these working group activities.

Adams then introduced Omer Dossani, senior director of Test PLM, STATSChipPAC, who gave a keynote on trends and the need for CAST. After the keynote, Don Edenfeld of Intel discussed the CAST vision, charter, and a brief history of how we got to this point.

Mark Roos of Roos Instruments gave a brief overview of areas of focus, direction of breakouts, and priority of opportunities.

Breakout session leaders then gave an update on status of current initiatives, which led into a panel discussion with Don Edelman (Intel), Omer Dassani (STATS ChipPAC), and John Adams (Teradyne).

The meeting included breakout sessions on these topics:

  • Docking and Mounting-- John Adams, Teradyne
  • Test Cell Communication, including SECS/GEM Standards-- Len VanEck, LTX-Credence
  • STIL: Common Dialects-- Paul Roddy, Advantest
  • Common STDF Format & Customization Syntax/API-- AJ Khoche, Verigy
  • Yield Enhancement-- Keith Arnold, PinTail Technologies
  • Bench Top and PTIM Standards-- Luke Schreier, National Instruments

CAST 2009 Calendar of Events




SEMICON West: Test Day, Workgroup meetings

San Francisco

July 14

Global CAST meeting

SEMI, San Jose

Oct. 6

ITC: STIL/STDF workgroup meetings


Nov. 6

SEMICON Japan: workgroup meetings


Dec. 2




The meeting adjourned at about 4:00pm, after a full day of discussion. Details on the presentations follow.

INTRODUCTION TO CAST (John Adams, Teradyne)

In addition to the introductions and describing the charter, John Adams from Teradyde discussed the industry need for CAST. He stated that today’s economic crisis and the industry’s quest for lower “cost of test” has created a stronger push for greater collaboration in the semiconductor test industry. Adams believes that the absence of a SEMI NA Standards ATE Committee has resulted in standards development by multiple ad hoc groups, including: STC (Semiconductor Test Consortium), STDF Group, and T2C2 (Test Technology Collaboration Consortium) He stated that it is getting difficult to follow the many groups that are supporting the semiconductor test community

Adams also went into some background of CAST. The STC initiated the effort to form a new global CAST (Collaborative Alliance for Semiconductor Test) 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

Industry Interest in CAST

The industry displays a strong interest in CAST, as demonstrated by these companies in attendance at the meeting:

  • Advantest
  • AEHR Test Systems
  • Aeroflex International
  • ASE
  • Centipede Systems
  • Electroglas
  • Event Based Technologies (PTE)
  • GE Global Electronics Services
  • IEEE
  • InfraStructure Advisors
  • Intel
  • inTEST
  • iSoft Consulting Group
  • Johnstech
  • Kinesys Software
  • KLA-Tencor
  • KVD
  • KYEC
  • Liberty Research
  • LSI
  • LTX-Credence
  • Maxim
  • MicroHandling, Gmbh
  • Nanometrics
  • National Instruments
  • nVidia
  • Optimal Test
  • Pintail Technologies
  • Roos Instruments
  • Salland Engineering (NA)
  • Salvador & Smith Associates
  • Scanimetrics
  • Simutest
  • SV Probe
  • Synopsys
  • Teradyne
  • Test Advantage
  • Tokyo Electron America
  • Verigy
  • WL Gore & Associates
  • Wright, Williams, and Kelly
  • Zenpire

STANDARDIZATION FOR SUCCESS: A Test Services Perspective (Omer Dossani, STATSChipPAC)

Headquartered in Singapore, STATS ChipPAC has design, research and development, manufacturing and customer support offices strategically located across 10 countries with eight test locations and about 100 customers. Omer Dossani is senior director, Test Business Development and his presentation focused on the need for standardization. Standardization allows sharing of equipment, knowledge and best practices—so important for success.

According to Dossani, the industry needs to standardize: Inventory Control Systems, Test Automated Control Systems, Performance Monitoring Systems, Data Collection Software, Test Platforms by Application by Factory, by Packaging Technology (most important), Handlers for product, Post Test Equipment.

Standardizing is not all that simple, as multiple challenges are encountered, including:

  • Different vendor preference across customers
  • Different vendor preferences across factories
  • Attractive vendor initiatives and incentives to change standard practices
  • Flexibility can come with costs
  • Historical precedent: We don’t ever start from scratch. We purchase factories.
  • Custom requirements particularly Silicon/fab/design flaw screening
  • New technologies keep this an ever growing challenge

Despite the challenges, Dossani emphasized that entire groups are dedicated to standardization, and that Test vendors need to Standardize in many ways, including:

  • Backward compatibility of newer instruments
  • Compatibility of Slot alignment and configuration across customers in the same space

He stated that customers need to go with standards in many ways, including:

  • Test Flows, (QA, QA Sampling, Temperature Testing)
  • Test Platforms
  • Test Interface Designs
  • Post-Test Reel Specifications
  • Test Load Board Pitches
  • Test Reduction and Insertion Elimination
  • We push our factories towards: Tester configuration standardization for flexibility of demand; Socket purchasing; TnR materials Purchasing; Handler Change Kits

Dossani believes that much more can be achieved. He talked about the need for fewer base test platforms and the need for more on consistency of QA standards implementation. He said that we need to expect vendors to stress standardization in placement of instruments in test heads and hope for the creation of creative business deals that encourage standardization. He hopes that organizations and forums remain committed to improving the overall cost structure without sponsors biased.

CAST SCOPE AND OBJECTIVES (Don Edenfeld, CAST Steering Committee)

Don Edenfeld from the CAST Steering Committee envisions a “single, inclusive, active community of industry leaders to engage a dialog on key challenges, influence strategy and drive toward common solutions to common problems while fostering innovation and differentiation.” He said that the background and history of CAST began as a group of supporters at SEMICON West in July 2008 seeking a common forum and level playing field for collaboration. Expectations aligned through the development of a charter document in Q3 2008. The group sought industry support and announced intentions in October 2008 (ITC) to form an organization, which was launched in February 2009 as a Special Interest Group within SEMI.

CAST Structure

The CAST SIG acts as a steering organization for industry efforts in test, with the NA Region ATE Standards Committee formation pending ISC vote. This complements existing committees in Europe and Asia. Edenfeld said that the CAST charter is:

  • Foster pre-competitive collaboration: Eliminate barriers to participation, enabling a broad membership and level playing field-- inclusive of all semiconductor industry participants with emphasis on manufacturing process cost, efficiency and yield beginning with wafer test and ending with shipment to the customer
  • Research, develop and promote standards that enable industry productivity improvement: Resource and drive specifications to enable efficient and effective interoperability while fostering an environment that encourages fast development, deployment and usage of specifications or standards
  • Perform pre-competitive benchmarks: Quantifying end-user process efficiency and effectiveness, and identifying opportunities to improve end-user process efficiency via collaborative efforts
  • Act as a representative and an advocate for the members: Focus on fostering a better understanding of their strategic value to the semiconductor industry; targets will include the industry, universities, governments and other organizations

Objectives for 2009

Edelfeld also talked about the CAST 2009 objectives. One objective is to perform pre-competitive benchmarks, including:

  • Establish an efficiency baseline using new or established efficiency metrics
  • Limited initial scope to refine the process of data collection, analysis and reporting
  • Use results to drive improvement opportunities and integrate with technical agenda

The second objective is to act as a representative and an advocate for the members by:

  • Formulate the message of test value add in the industry and drive an information agenda
  • Sponsor the SEMICON West Test Day event to encourage discussion and debate about the current state and future of the industry
  • Interface with academia to drive a closer working relationship with industry and assist in government lobbying for research funding

Breakout Session: Test Cell Communications (Len Van Eck, LTX-Credence)

Len Van Eck from LTX-Credence presented, starting with a session overview. He stated that the objective: Define standards for the semiconductor industry that provide communications guidelines and methods for different elements within a test cell. These elements include (but are not limited to) probers, handlers, testers, test cell management packages and data collection databases. The purpose? To brainstorm/investigate possibilities of standardizing test cell communications and explore existing standards (Are they working? Why or why not?).

The typical Test Cell Model elements include: Tester, Prober/Handler,Cell Manager, and Datalog Collection Database. Van Eck said that major points of interest include:

  • Tester-to-Prober communications: Definition of messages, message sequences and scenarios for tester-master and prober-master situations.
  • Tester-to-Handler: Definition of messages, message sequences and scenarios for tester-master and handler-master situations.
  • User fields in the messaging standard: Transferring user specific, tester specific or prober/handler specific data to a data collection database.
  • “Terminology” agreements: Typical example of this is whether the end of a line or command is terminated with a or .

Van Eck talked about how to start the process by examining the SECS/GEM standards and determining the suitability of the current standards and then recommending acceptance or extensions where necessary. He discussed the three options:

    1. Start from Scratch

    2. Accept “as is” under CAST

    3. Modify to meet CAST requirements

For more information on the CAST meeting, please visit the SEMI Test segment website and/or click on the CAST presentation slides.

April 9, 2009