“Seeking Growth” the topic of the panel discussion at Semicon West:

Xcerra Meets Current Trends in the Semiconductor Business with a Most Comprehensive Approach

The semiconductor test and packaging industry segment is being driven by adoption of increased integration, advanced packaging, and adaptive test. Well-balanced and innovative strategies will be needed to ensure further productivity gains at the semiconductor manufacturers. Equipment suppliers have to reconsider both – their portfolio and organizational structure to meet the new market challenges with innovations starting at products but reaching up to full system level solutions. A comprehensive understanding of the overall electronic market trends ranging from components to assembled modules to end products is required to actively contribute to the next generation technology in test and packaging.

Main technology drivers that will enable future market growth

Social megatrends of globalization and mobility paired with ongoing efforts for optimizing processes and speed directly influence the demand for electronics. Three major technology drivers will shape the industry while moving forward:

  • Wireless connectivity
  • Internet of Things
  • Broader usage of advanced sensors

In the test and packaging market this will enforce advanced packaging such as 3D and WLCSP. The new packaging technologies are redefining how and where (at what stage) test ought to be performed. A lot of challenges (therefore opportunities) for new handling and contacting techniques can be anticipated. From a pure “test” point of view, known good die, partial stack test, interposer and substrate test are also new “frontiers” to be explored.

Larger volumes of advanced sensors will need to be tested. Depending on the end application different cost and test quality level have to be achieved. The larger volumes will be split in a growing variety of sensor types. So flexibility in test will be a major differentiator.

In many cases these drivers will combine to drive new applications. Test cells will have to efficiently deal with more complex packages and heterogonous stacks.

How the significant productivity gains over the last decade can be continued

Over the last 10 years the focus has been on getting more productivity at lower cost from the tester. These efforts were followed by similar approaches for handling equipment and test interfaces. All these conventional ways to reduce cost and increase productivity by optimizing tester, handler, interfaces as single elements are reaching their limits. No significant returns can be expected from here. It is time to focus attention on the complete test cell.

Parallel to integrating more functions on an IC – integration can lead to higher performance at lower cost. Today OEE of the test cell with optimized single elements is at best in 70% range. There is a need to harmonize the performance of the test cell elements to effectively improve the overall OEE. The test cell needs to be considered as ONE integrated tool while maintaining widest flexibility. The ATE multisite capabilities, and probecards. Advanced packaging processes such as 3D packaging and WLCSP as well as integrated MCU/RF/Sensor applications will require more focus on the back end manufacturing flow rather than just test insertions.

For the overall semiconductor manufacturer‘s business the test cell approach will significantly contribute to their success by reducing the time to market – particularly for challenging applications. To gain security here, introduce new products as scheduled and be first to market, will easily multiply the direct from increasing test cell OEE.

Xcerra addresses the requirements for future gains

Xcerra is the parrent company for four powerful players in the electronic industry. For the semiconductor market Xcerra consolidates the product portfolio of LTXC’s ATE with Multitest’s handlers and interface products. Everett Charles Technologies and atg Luther & Maelzer expand the portfolio for the electronic market beyond semiconductors.

The market already appreciates Xcerra as a convenient and time-saving one-stop shop. Xcerra will be able to provide a fully harmonized and performance optimized test cell. Shipping a prequalified test cell will significantly accelerate time to volume for the semiconductor manufacturer. Time to volume is now a bigger issue than time to market. End customers like Apple, Samsung expects ramp from 0 to a few millions with 0dppm in a few weeks. For high growth market segments Xcerra sees additional potential in new products integration handler, contactor, loadboard and tester technology.

For developing new solutions Xcerra has a complete set of technologies and experienced resources “in house” ranging from hardware design and software engineering, to precision mechanical design to fabrication. This will ensure leading-edge solutions and fast availability.

Finally, being connected at all nodes of electronics manufacturing gives Xcerra significant insight and therefore a strategic advantage. Trends in PCB assembly and test will allow for anticipating changing demands in packaging and test.