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iNU Semiconductor – Bring-Up

All Hail the Product Engineer

The Bring Up stage of the semiconductor development process is often carried out by Product Engineers. The people at 3 NRIT summarised the role of the Product Engineer in the diagram opposite, as you can see this is a very varied an important area for product development.

Many of these steps are carried out in the lab, using various pieces of hardware for taking measurements and will most probably be controlled by some kind of custom build software.

Our approach to this process is to use a standard hardware platform along with code that is built to be re-useable. The reason for this is simple, having a standard platform means only one type of connection (often Ethernet) and allows hardware to be easily shared between lab desks. Building code to be re-useable means that after 2 or 3 products have passed through the department, you could have around 80% of the code already written, ready and waiting for product number 4.

Bring Up PE
http://www.3nrit.com/sw-product-eng.php
Below is some of the basic hardware found in a test engineers lab, along with some tests that can be automated to save significant time.

Hardware

Voltage Source

A voltage source is used to control the supply voltage to the DUT, modern devices have various inbuilt functionality that allow testing to be semi automated.

Current Source

A current source is used to control the supply current to the DUT, modern devices have various inbuilt functionality that allow testing to be semi automated.

Oscilloscope

Used to view signals from the DUT, such as output waveforms and frequency values

Digital Pattern Generator

Digital patterns are often used to set memory location values that alter the device behaviour, these devices can send preprogrammed sequences as part of the testing process

Thermal Chambers

Thermal chambers are used to simulate extreme conditions to test the DUT, this can be high levels of humidity, high temperatures and freezing conditions.

Test Types

Current Sweep

By sweeping the current across a certain range the device characteristics can be tested. This test can be combined with the control of a thermal chamber to test operation at extreme temperatures

Voltage Sweep

By sweeping the voltage across a certain range the device characteristics can be tested. This test can be combined with the control of a thermal chamber to test operation at extreme temperatures

Frequency Sweep

Maintaining a constant supply voltage, sweeping the input frequency allows the device characteristics to be checked against the design spec

Memory Retention

Maintaining values stored in memory without corruption is important in many devices, testing for it can be tedious without using en automated process

Platforms

PXI

PXI is our standard “go-to” platform when designing test systems. PXI forms the basis for many ATE setups, allowing for easy exchange of hardware with minimum impact on mechanical design. Companies such as National Instruments, Keysight and Rhode & Schwarz all provide a wide range of hardware in PXI format.

ATE

ATE (or Automated Test Equipment) is a complete system that can be used to carry out many tests using the same hardware setup. Often based on PXI, they are versatile and can be re-used over again for many devices.

Component

Every engineer has their favourite piece of kit, be it a voltage source or a highly accurate current source. Incorporating this into your automated test setup is of course possible.

The one size fits all approach of standardised testing is convenient but lazy

– Sir James Dyson