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.


BiTS Workshop – The Next 15 Years

March 26, 2014

Thanks to the BiTS Committee for the hard work to make this a great event!

Thanks to the BiTS Committee for the hard work to make this a great event!


Wow! The Burn-in and Test Strategy (BiTS) Workshop just turned 15! The world of semiconductors has certainly changed over the years. And the BiTS Workshop has kept up with what is “Now & Next” in the burn-in and test of packaged integrated circuits (ICs). These achievements were celebrated in style by the more than three hundred participants at the recently held 2014 BiTS Workshop in Mesa, Arizona.

“When the BiTS Workshop started in 2000, there were no 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 – Welcome & Session 1 (Monday)

June 21, 2012

Semiconductor wafer test workshop swtw sign 500x352

Here are the highlights from the Welcome and Session One “Process Improvements for HVM” of the 22nd annual IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop (SWTW) from Monday June 11, 2012.

Jerry Broz (SWTW general conference chair) started with several sets of numbers: SWTW attendance (up), semiconductor revenue and wafer statistics (problems). and probe card market (up). The problem with semiconductor statistics are  Read the rest of this entry »


Silicon Valley Test Workshop – 2nd Year “Rocks”

November 28, 2011
2 5D? 3D? What? 3D IC Packaging - Ira Feldman

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Back for the second year (with a minor name change), the Silicon Valley Test Workshop is an unpolished gem. Looking past the rough edges (minor logistical issues), what really shines through is the interaction of the participants. This conference really has Read the rest of this entry »


Probe Card Cost Drivers from Architecture to Zero Defects

June 17, 2011

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As the final presenter at this week’s IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop (SWTW), I outlined how critical it is to understand the true cost of a product’s architecture in “Probe Card Cost Drivers from Architecture to Zero Defects“. Without a proper understanding of these costs – especially for fully custom high technology products such as wafer test probe cards – it is impossible to maintain a sufficient gross margin. Gross margin is essential to maintain the health of a company and to fund the research & development required for innovation.

Many companies in the semiconductor test market have entered a period that Steve Newberry identified in his 2008 speech “Semiconductor Industry Trends: The Era of Profitless Prosperity?” that parallels the aluminum industry in the 1970’s. And without the means to fund innovation, companies have no future especially when faced with the double threat of Moore’s Law – increasingly harder technical requirements delivered at lower cost.

Yes, there were a few in the audience who appeared pleased since they are confident that their products are on the right path. There were others who may have been upset based upon their company’s direction. I would argue that a proper diagnosis – regardless of how disturbing – is essential to drive the proper cure.

There is plenty of opportunity in the test market and reasons for optimism. The key to long term prosperity is to really understand the fundamentals of the business and not be blinded by the technology.

I thank those who stayed for the entire conference and welcome your thoughts below. And I will be posting more about the conference (including my summaries) in the next few weeks.