This section provides a top-level view of the general challenges facing Semiconductor test.  It is organized into three sections

·        Key Drivers: These are the high level technical and economic trends which will drive IC test overall

·        Difficult challenges: These difficult challenges define areas where more development or understanding is needed in order to cost effectively meet the semiconductor roadmap.

·        Future Opportunities: These are longer-term areas of research and development that would address current or future challenges in the area of semiconductor test.

== 1.1     Key Drivers ==

Table TST1a- Summary of Key Test Drivers

Key Drivers (not in any particular order)

Effects & Solutions

Device Integration

Increasing package-level integration (PoP, SoC, SiP, MCP, 2.5/3D packaging)

•  Increasing reliance on Application-Level Test •  Increasing reliance on "Known" good die •  Full functional test at wafer •  Integration of non-electrical stimulus into test cells •  Increased need for standardized DFT in third-party silicon IP

Multilayer Silicon integration ("Monolithic 3D")

Integration of new RF and sensor functions on CMOS digital die.

Integration of non-electrical devices (optical, MEMS, etc)

Complex package electrical, mechanical, and thermal characteristics

Heterogeneous integration dependent on 3rd party IP test solution readiness

Process Technology and device architecture

Process variability that requires device modification post-fabrication (Calibration, Trim, etc.)

•  More iterative test flows based on measured results •  Increased need for device reconfiguration (one-time programming) •  Higher Accuracy and more stable Device Power Supplies

Fault Tolerant Architectures and Protocols (redundant components, Field Repair)

Lower voltage and more numerous Supply Voltages - Power Integrity (like signal integrity)

Increased Device functionality

Increasing device interface bandwidth (# of signals and data rates)

•  Higher performance instrumentation

Complex RF Modulation standards

Test process complexity

Feedback data for tuning manufacturing (fab, packaging, etc.)

•  Unique stimulus per device based on measured results •  Need to generate and transport large volumes of test data •  Need to dynamically alter test flow and test limits •  Ability to program device controllers to facilitate functional test

Dynamic setting of pass/fail criteria (outlier detection)

Dynamic test flows via Adaptive Test (skip or add tests, change flow based on measured results)

Device test after part is made secure

Integration of more complex test and device handling functionality in test cells

Maintaining Unit level Traceability Through manufacturing process.


Physical and economic limits of test parallelism

•  Improve test Fixturing to accommodate higher site counts •  Improve cost models to incorporate overall efficiency and effects of yield •  Improve instrumentation accuracy to lower guardbands •  Improve Parallel Test Efficiency •  Improve handling and interface equipment to support higher site count •  Increased need for thermal management at test

Managing overall test operating costs by balancing tester configuration, device-handling equipment, interface hardware and Overall Equipment Efficiency.

Additional test steps driven by customer quality requirements or packaging complexity

Increasing effects of device yield on overall production costs.

Increasing test times due to scan data volume and thermal limitations of scan shift rates

  ATE—automatic test equipment     ATPG—automatic test pattern generation     BIST—built-in self test HVM—high volume manufacturing  MCP—multi-chip packaging      MEMS—micro-electromechanical systems

=== 1.1.1    Increasing Device Integration ===

Device integration happens in two ways:

·        SOC integration adds more functionality on the same die

·        SIP integration integrated multiple die into the same package.  This path is chosen because different functions are implemented in different silicon processes or are produced by different manufacturers, and it is more efficient to combine them at the package level rather than moving functions to the same die.  It also allows combining purely electrical devices with mechanical/electronics devices like sensors, MEMs, etc.

These drive two increasingly important test trends

·        Before they are shipped to customers, the device must be validated to function in its end application.  Most manufacturing test has been migrated to a “superposition” model, where different portions of devices are tested in isolation through structural test, or parametric tests that are performed on isolated analog functions.  These techniques leave untested the ability of different portions of the device to function with each other, typically at different operating frequencies with random timing.  Increasing, test insertions are being added at which the device runs in “mission mode”.   Since this adds cost to the overall manufacturing process, techniques must be developed to provide the same test coverage more efficiently as an existing test insertion

·        If devices are constructed from multiple die, it is critical that the failure rate of any die be extremely low since having to scrap the final SIP is extremely expensive.  Thus these “known” good die must be exhaustively tested before they are integrated into the final package.  This will require improved signal performance at probe and the need to perform multiple probe tests without mechanical damage.

In addition, the need for non-electrical stimulus at test will become more prevalent in the test of more highly integrated devices.  Non-electrical stimulus and responses may include, but are not limited to:

·        Optical communications and contacting

·        Pressure including sound

·        Rotation

·        Gravity

·        Chemical, molecular, or protein sensing including Raman spectroscopy, florescence, and other techniques

·        Temperature

·        Humidity

·        Magnetic Field

·        Acceleration including vibration and shock

·        Fluid flow

=== 1.1.2    Process Technology and device architecture ===

Shrinking dimensions and new structures of silicon processes have evolved to the point where being able to produce devices that function precisely as designed cannot be relied upon.  There are two underlying problems:

·        Every wafer has enough variations is electrical performance that it is impossible to rely on each device to perform precisely the same.  Most high performance devices are designed with this in mind, so mechanism are built into the design that allows the device performance to be adjusted after it is built.  This includes “tuning” analog parameters such as voltage levels, frequencies and overall power consumption.  This final manufacturing step is now lumped into the “test” process.  As a result, the model of a known stimulus causing a known response has evolved to the point where device stimulus must be iteratively adjusted independently on each device based on the electrical characteristics measured at the beginning of the test process.  This is a significant change to the model of test as it has historically been done and will accelerate with future fabrication technologies.  This will require changes to the operation of test equipment in order to make that process as efficient as possible. 

·        Defects will always occur in the fabrication process, usually measured in terms of defects per area of the wafer (N defects per square millimeter, for example).  As die become smaller, the chances of having some defect on a given device increases greatly.  To compensate for this, increasing amounts of redundant circuitry is added that can be used to replace defective portions of the device, either when the device is manufactured or later when the device is being used in its final application.  This has long been a technique used on memory manufacturing, and will become more prevalent in SOC devices over time. Again, this will drive the need for test to very efficiently adapt to the functionality observed during initial testing.

Another artifact of new process technology is that operating voltages are steadily decreasing.  This will drive the need to greater accuracy in test equipment at these lower voltages in order to optimize yield.

=== 1.1.3    Increased device performance ===

Analog performance of devices will continue to improve.  A good example of this is the increased performance required of RF modulation/demodulated circuitry as wireless data rates are increased.  In concert with cost reduction enabled by Design-For-Test features, the electrical performance of certain test instrumentation will need to continue to match these improvements.

=== 1.1.4    Test Process Complexity ===

In addition to the requirements described above, the test process has evolved in two significant ways based on the capability to better integrate test into the overall production process.

·        Test Flows and limits are adjusted based on statistical analysis of results either at the current test insertion or information fed forward from earlier in the production process.

·        Test results are fed back to the design and fabrication much more quickly to improve device yield.  This correlates to the shorter timelines required to development new device and deploy them to high volume manufacturing.

These developments are driving a rapid increase in the amount of data produced by the test process, and the need to transport and analyze that data quickly and securely.  In addition, the collection of that data cannot reduce the throughput of the test cell.  This will drive new standards for data file formats and transportation mechanisms to and from the test cell.

1.1.5    Cost Edit

Economics are the prime driver for any high volume manufacturing process.  Historically, test costs have been reduced by reducing the amount of capital equipment required to produce a given number of devices.  This has accomplished by improving parameters such as cost per pin of test equipment, test time and test parallelism (site count or concurrent test).

This approach will have to change for several reasons

·        The cost of test has become a very small fraction of the overall cost of producing semiconductors.  The return on investment for new avenues of test cost reduction is very limited as compared to investment in other aspects of the manufacturing process such as reducing fabrication costs and improving Time To Market

·        Site count as a test cost reduction technique is naturally limited by handling and interface costs, as well as the volume of devices tested.  Since the number of devices to be produced is finite, so are the gains from increasing the throughput of a given test cell.

·        Improvements in test time that can be achieved are decreasing asymptotically.  Equipment overhead has been reduced to the point where it is a very small portion of the overall test time.  In addition, average test times are increasing due to increased device complexity, manifested in the form of increased scan test times and overall increases in the number of tests required per device.

·        Improving quality of test has is much more beneficial economically than reducing cost of test.  Any extra costs caused by test are more than compensated for by the reduction in scrap costs that are achieved by improved yield.  Focusing solely on test costs ignores the much greater benefits of reducing fab costs (which are far greater) by investing in better test equipment that would drive an increase in yield.  See section 4 for a more detailed discussion on this topic.

== 1.2     Difficult Challenges ==

Listed below is selected group of technical challenges for test that will drive new capability.

Table TST2b- Summary of Difficult Challenges

Difficult Challenges

Effects & Solutions

Test Development as a gate to volume production (Time to Market)

Increasing device complexity driving more complex test development and significantly higher pattern lengths.

•  Improve software generation tools •  Improve offline software quality tools •  Improve tools to manage software from multiple developers •  Improve handling of larger programs and patterns •  Reduce complexity of interface hardware

Maintaining Test Program quality

Complex Test hardware development time

Lead time to implement design/coverage changes (new or iterating tests)

Accommodating multiple developers working simultaneously

IP protection / Security requirements limits collaboration and adds delays to test program development

Automatic Code Generation (Analog and Digital)

Detecting Systemic Defects

Testing for local non-uniformities, not just hard defects

•  Correlate ATE-based parametric measurements, structural tests or functional tests to system-level faults

Embedded software/firmware flaws corrupting test results

Erratic, non-deterministic, and intermittent device behavior in end use configuration

Mechanical damage during the testing process

Concurrent Test

Implementation Complexity

•  Refocus efforts on multi-die packages which have inherent partitions

Limited number device types which will benefit

Wafer Level Packaging

"Known" Good Die

•  Improve performance of probe interface hardware •  Development new handling technology for singulated / thinned die •  Reconstituted wafer testing

Singulated die testing

=== 1.2.1    Test Development As A Gate To Volume Production ===

The desire to reduce the time required to start high volume production of new, complex devices in a constant force in the semiconductor industry.  Test development and debug is one of the most “exposed” portions of the process given that it is gated by the device design and fabrication and is the last step before production can begin.  There are a number of contributors to this process becoming more complex.

·        The sheer number of Lines of Code in test programs is continuing to increase to implement device characterization, as well as the requirements for variable device flows and the implementation of tests to trim various device parameters.  In addition, the volume of pattern data continues to grow (See section 7 for a more detailed analysis).

·        Multiple test developers are deployed to simultaneously construct different portions of the overall test program.  It must be possible to seamlessly combine the work of these developers, and the work of one developer cannot interfere with work of any other.  Furthermore, the number of collaborators may be restricted by IP security or similar concerns.

·        Operation of the device during test is dependent on embedded software and firmware which may itself be defective.

All of this combines to drive extremely complex code, typically developed by engineers with limited software expertise.  The resultant issues in the quality of the test code are the primary source of overall test quality problems.

The issue of test program quality must addressed by techniques common to the software industry overall.  For example:

·        The automated generation of pattern data from devices simulation data is a well-controlled process.  This automated process must be extended to the test program itself through the use of standardized code libraries and test definitions.  While this has been a goal of the test industry for many years, success to date is not widespread for complex SOC devices.

·        Offline software test must be further developed to simulate various program flows, undefined or incorrectly defined parameters, incorrect program flow paths and binning, etc.

·        Tools for the integration and management of multiple stand-alone test programs must be improved.

=== 1.2.2    Detecting System Defects ===

As noted earlier, the desire to eliminate the need for system-level test insertions to guarantee the quality of complex devices is driven by the need to reduce overall production costs.  Finding a way to provide test coverages for these types of faults is a continuing challenging.  See the discussion in the next section for possible paths to solve this problem.

=== 1.2.3    Concurrent Test ===

The adoption of concurrent test has been on ongoing challenge, mostly owing to the inability of most devices to utilize it.

=== 1.2.4    Wafer level Packaging ===

Wafer level packaging will continue to proliferate and will drive the need for more efficient handling of singulated die and need for additional wafer test insertions for temperature test or other reasons.

== 1.3     Future Opportunities ==

Listed below are several areas with the potential to yield significant improvements in test efficiency and effectiveness

Table TST3c- Summary of Future Opportunities

Future Opportunities (not in any order)

Combine Multiple Test Environments

Merge Lab, Silicon Test and System-Level Test environments to reduce costs and improve Time To Market

Test Environment Simulation

Integrate various simulation capabilities and methodologies for device and test equipment into one.

Improved Fault Modeling

Eliminate redundant testing with more sophisticated  modeling to find system-level and other un-modeled faults

=== 1.3.1    Combine Multiple Test Environments ===

There are essentially two environments for device testing.

·        The first is used for device bring-up and silicon debug, mostly in a laboratory environment.  This environment uses tools and software associated with the design environment and/or end-use programming.  It provides the ability to manipulate various device functions via JTAG or some similar path and uses code that is easily ported from EDA tools.  End-use customers also use this environment for developing embedded software and firmware to enable applications development for the device.

·        The second programming environment is that used for high volume manufacturing test on traditional ATE.  The purpose of this environment is to find manufacturing defects and assumes the design of the device has already been validated.  The link to the design environment is more indirect, typically just consisting of the ability to convert device simulation data into test patterns.

As noted earlier, devices with multiple heterogeneous cores have manufacturing defects that are only found through functional “mission mode” test of the device, which is almost always developed as BIST functions in the development software environment.

Device bring-up and transfer to high volume manufacturing would be made far more efficient if these two environments were both available on ATE.  Benefits would include:

·        The ability to easily correlate scan or parametric tests to system-level faults

·        The ability to develop BIST functionality that works together with the “external” test capability of the ATE to facilitate system-level test coverage on an existing ATE insertion

·        The ability to run tests developed in the engineering development environment on a large population of devices on the ATE hardware utilizing the handling, temperature control and data collection capabilities on production-oriented equipment.

·        Shortening the test feedback process to design engineers by having test, DFT and design engineers working on the same equipment.

=== 1.3.2    Test Environment Simulation ===

Numerous attempts have been made over the years to provide a single simulation environment that encompasses device simulation with simulation of the tester environment.  Functional simulation of the tester and device has largely been abandoned due to its complexity and the more effective solution of improving device simulation capability, improving the EDA to test software path, and improving and standardizing test implementation on ATE.

There are still benefits to be gained, however, by focusing on the analog simulation of the signal transmission path from the tester to the DUT itself, especially in the context of improving the design and fabrication of tester interface hardware.

=== 1.3.3    Improved Fault Modeling ===

In conjunction with the discussion in 2.2.1, the detection of system-level faults would be facilitate by more comprehensive device fault modeling, including the interaction of heterogeneous cores in the device operation in their end application modes.