The first marvel of modern semiconductor IC design is their ability to contain highly complex electronic circuits in such a small space. Manufacturers of these technological marvels must ensure that the equipment they produce will meet end-user performance expectations and meet expected service life requirements.
It’s a tall order; however, that’s not all. Chips must also compete effectively in the market. Designs must work reliably in all types of environments if manufacturers are to be profitable. And, to complicate matters, the device also had to enter production before it could compete.
The tension between proven reliability and speed to market raises the question: How can a device be guaranteed to be reliable over its typical service life, measured in years, without causing unacceptable delays in production? To solve this problem, engineers came up with the concept of reliability testing.
Reliability testing functionally accelerates the burn-in process by applying greater stress to the device under test (DUT) in the form of higher temperature, voltage, and other environmental factors. Statistical analysis of the chip’s operation at different stages of this “derating” process revealed potential weaknesses in the design.
Manufacturers can reduce risk by conducting various reliability tests before DUTs enter mass production. They reduce the likelihood of releasing defective products that lead to numerous field repairs or even recalls. Ultimately, reliability testing increases a company’s chances of profiting from new designs and helps spur more innovation in the industry.
Types of Reliability Testing
Reliability testing focuses on making equipment fail due to overvoltage. During this process, operational tests show how well the chip remains functional. Whenever a component reaches its breaking point, the analysis shows whether its design is inherently sound. The method predicts whether the device will perform at acceptable levels once mass-produced and deployed in the field.
In the decades since IC chips first appeared, test engineers have developed different types of accelerated life tests (ALT). Various factors determine which tests are appropriate for a given device. Operating specifications and reliability databases from previous generations form a statistical baseline from which new device test results can be derived.
Appropriate reliability test parameters are established by semiconductor standardization organizations such as JEDEC. Some of the most common tests include:
- High Temperature Operating Life (HTOL) – This reliability test method accelerates the life of the DUT by increasing the temperature and voltage. The Accelerated Aging Factor (AF) multiplier allows the DUT’s expected life to be calculated based on the length of test time. HTOL tests every substructure of an IC design, so testing can reveal precise information about device life and possible failure points due to stress.
- Highly Accelerated Temperature and Humidity Stress Test (HAST) – Evaluates the reliability of device packages in wet environments. By increasing the temperature and humidity in a pressurized environment, this test accelerates the degradation of package seals by moisture. Once moisture destroys the seal, it is likely to fail due to corrosion of the device substrate and connecting leads.
- Thermal Cycling Test (TCT) – Often used with ruggedized equipment, TCT checks the ability of the equipment to withstand extreme high and low temperatures. Temperature cycling accelerates fatigue failure of IC device packages, leads, and seals.
- High Temperature Storage (HTS) – Simulates long-term storage of equipment in a high temperature environment. HTS is considered a passive test because there is no electrical stress to act. HTS helps determine whether equipment can remain reliable when exposed to high temperatures for extended periods of time.
Many types of reliability tests exist to simulate specific conditions under which equipment may have to operate. Companies commission test engineers to determine the best way to evaluate specific ICs.
Test validity assesses whether the test measures the correct parameters to determine whether the chip will perform as designed. To create a reliable product, testing must not only recreate an accurate representation of accelerating stressors, but must also select the correct criteria for evaluation.
Accurate reliability testing that collects the correct data is critical to the long-term success of any electronic product sold, as it is verification that the product will perform as promised.
If a large number of equipment fails in the field, the company suffers monetary gain and reputational damage.
Towards greater reliability
To remain competitive, companies must find cost-effective ways to predict the performance of newly manufactured devices. One answer is to use a professionally designed test platform that is flexible enough to perform tests on different products.
Maintaining a versatile test bench helps production facilities avoid the pitfalls of cobbling together home-made solutions that may prove less than satisfactory. Investing in testing programs to ensure the effectiveness of various products can help companies stay ahead of the fierce competition in IC manufacturing.
About Electronic components distributor FAST TURN CHIP
FAST TURN CHIP is a B2B electronic contract manufacturer, with a number of electronic components procurement points. We can find and purchase hybrid electronic components and ics at competitive prices to meet customer needs. No matter what components you want, no matter how many, you can buy from Cocreate At a reasonable price and with traceable quality.
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