Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop 2015 Presentation – Are You Really Going To Package That?

June 24, 2015
Are You Really Going To Package That? - Ira Feldman and Debbora Ahlgren - SW Test 2015

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I had the pleasure of presenting “Are You Really Going To Package That?” at the 25th annual Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop (SW Test / SWTW) on Tuesday June 9, 2015. Debbora Ahlgren and I took this opportunity to step back and look at how old paradigms in test-cell integration may lead to suboptimal solutions.

In an effort to reduce the cost-of-test (COT), a number of customers are increasing the parallelism of logic wafer probe cards. However, due to the complexity such as pitch and number of probes, the pricing for these cards is reaching astronomical levels. We do not believe this trend is sustainable, let alone logical. The presentation suggested examples of alternative solutions. It is clear that critical solutions need to be optimized at the test cell, factory, and supply chain level not just at the consumable (probe card) level.


SEMI ISS 2014 – Scaling Innovation

February 4, 2014
Courtesy of Ivo Bolsens (Xilinx), SEMI ISS 2014

Courtesy of Ivo Bolsens (Xilinx), SEMI ISS 2014

Don’t pop the champagne just yet! Although plenty of good news was shared at the 2014 SEMI Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) there was the sobering outlook of possible limited long-term growth due to technology issues as well as economic projections. Noticeable was the lack of news and updates on key industry developments.

This is the yearly “data rich” or “data overload” (take your pick) conference of semiconductor supply chain executives. The majority of the attendees and presenters are from the SEMI member companies that develop the equipment, materials, processes, and technology used to build, test, and package semiconductors. Keeping the pressure on for advanced technology were the “end customer” attendees and presenters – semi-conductor manufacturers.

The official theme was “Pervasive Computing – An Enabler for Future Growth” and the presentations made it clear  Read the rest of this entry »


SEMI ISS: Sense of Scale

January 22, 2013
Intel shows first fully patterned 450 mm semiconductor wafer at SEMI ISS 2013

Intel shows first fully patterned 450 mm semiconductor wafer at SEMI ISS 2013

Attending the SEMI Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) is like drinking from a fire hose with the additional risk of whiplash. Don’t get me wrong, it is an exquisite fire hose but sometimes the data presented can be overwhelming at this conference of semiconductor supply chain executives. The majority of the attendees and presenters are executives from the SEMI member companies that develop the equipment, materials, processes, and technology used to build, test, and package semiconductors. And the executives present from the semiconductor manufacturers are typically the “end customers”.

The greatest value of SEMI ISS, beyond the networking, is the strategic overview of the entire semiconductor ecosystem. What are the market drivers, the technology needed, and the roadmap status of this industry? It is true that we all know where we need to head courtesy of Moore’s Law and the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors which attempts to keep us on that trajectory. The pressure of consumers needing wanting greater functionality at lower costs is relentless. Much of the technological detail of this ecosystem is addressed in a myriad of other forums throughout the year. ISS ties these technical requirements, development needs, and business needs back to the strategic direction and desires of the global marketplace.

The whiplash comes from  Read the rest of this entry »


IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop 2012 – Session 5 (Tuesday)

July 2, 2012

Semiconductor wafer test workshop swtw sign 500x352

Here are the highlights from Session Five “New Probe Card and Contact Technologies” of the 22nd annual IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop (SWTW) from Tuesday June 12, 2012.

Tsutomu Shoji (Japan Electronics Materials Corp. ‐ Japan) and Takashi Naito (Advantest ‐ Japan), “Full Wafer Contact Breakthrough with Ultra‐High Pin Count”:

Awarded Best Overall Presentation

As the number of probes on probe cards increase due to greater parallelism, driven by the desire for one touchdown testing and the future transition to 450 mm wafers, the total force required to probe a wafer increases if there is no reduction in the force per probe. This wafer prober chuck needs to apply the required force by pushing the wafer against the probe card typically held in place by the structure of the prober. With 200K probes on a 450 mm wafer each requiring 5 gF this is approximately equal to 1 ton (2205 lbF) of applied force. To reduce these force requirements wafer chuck and prober structure, Advantest and JEM have Read the rest of this entry »


IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop 2012 – Session 4 (Monday)

June 28, 2012

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Here are the highlights from Session Four “New Contactor Technologies and RF PCB Design” of the 22nd annual IEEE 
Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop (SWTW) from Monday June 11, 2012.

A last minute change to balance the schedule moved my paperThe Road to 450 mm Semiconductor Wafers” from the previous session:

Many believe that Gordon Moore in his famous 1965 paper “The Experts Look Ahead: Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits” that has become know as Moore’s Law, said that the number of transistors on a device would double every year (later revised to every two years). He did not say quite that. What he said was  Read the rest of this entry »


IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop 2012 – Session 3 (Monday)

June 26, 2012

Semiconductor wafer test workshop swtw sign

Here are the highlights from Session Three “Probe Potpourri” of the 22nd annual IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop (SWTW) from Monday June 11, 2012.

Larry Levy (FormFactor, Inc.), “Is Parametric Testing About To Enter a Period of Growth and Innovation?”:

Upwards of one thousand facilities perform parametric wafer testing (based on 2009 market data) with over a third of these using obsolete test equipment. There have been no really new testers in several years – Agilent still has their 40xx series and Keithley has their S530 tester. And several companies have exited the market and some companies (including Keithley) are no longer supporting older models of testers. Since parametric testing remains an essential process, this has forced a high number of these facilities to use obsolete equipment or find other approaches. A few companies are going as far as using an Advantest 93000, a significantly more expensive and highly sophisticated digital tester, for parametric test. [Updated to clarify Keithley’s status.]

Parametric testing can be divided into three categories: in-line, end of line (EOL), and quality and reliability. In-line testing is  Read the rest of this entry »


Change the Rules to Win!

April 26, 2012

Some consider the many of billions of dollars invested in the semiconductor supply chain to be huge bets on yet to be proven technology and future business. Even if you take a strict view of this as simply business it is possible to learn something from gambling.

The Atlantic tells the fascinating story of how Don Johnson took Atlantic City casinos for $15 M playing blackjack. Last year he won $5 M from Borgata in February, $4 M from Caesars in March, and $6 M from Tropicana in April. This wasn’t luck and he wasn’t card counting. How did he do this and how does this connect to semiconductors and Apple?

Read the rest of this entry »