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Test (and Diagnostics) ... it is now a "Value Add" Operation (how are we measuring up?)

Comments(1)Filed under: Test, Logic Design, fault model, test escapes, defect testing, chip design, digital design, DFT, quality, diagnostics, design for manufacturing, DFMA quote from Defect and Fault Tolerance (DFT) 2008 Symposium Key Note Speaker – Phil Nigh, IBM, PhD Carnegie Mellon University: “The role of IC testing is changing – from being viewed as mainly a non-value (cost) operation – to one which provides additional value to products.  Historically, the role of Test was to separate the good devices from the faulty ones.  The emerging role of Test/Diagnostics is to provide feedback to product designers (performance, functionality, power) and to the fab (variability, sources of yield loss, defect characterization).  Test is also the focal point for product dispositioning; applying unique methods to maximize yield while still achieving high levels of Quality and Reliability.”

MY VIEW: with increasing pressure to improve efficiency and reduce development and manufacturing costs (e.g. improve predictability, increase yield ramp, reduce return material costs, ...), design-process information should be quickly and accurately captured for FEEDBACK to improve modeling (device and faults), DRC, etc.

QUESTION 1:  With this quote in mind - can we continue viewing design and test communities separately?  Should test and diagnostics become an integral part of design and development? If we consider our design and manufacturing flows in the context of theater seating, can or should logic designers remain in one row and test designers in another? 

QUESTION 2: If the answer is no, how should EDA companies help merge these communities better? Is this necessary to continue improving FEEDBACK efficiency? Do you agree that FEEDBACK is an important component?


By John Ford on October 13, 2008
As a DFT engineer (and former test engineer), I've always had better luck the closer I worked with the design team - no question.  I agree with your statement of the pressures on the test function (increasing predictability, reduction of the product ramp time, and reduction of manufacturing costs).
However, I'm unsure, so far, just exactly what test information can be fed back that _designers_ can use.  When I think of designers - I think of the chip designer, who, in most cases, doesn't do much low-level modeling.  This is something that is usually provided by the fab.
Information that I see coming BACK from test is useful for improving the test itself (better DFT), that is until you get to the high volume stage, where diagnostics can play a role in tracking down something amiss in the layout.
So, if I answer your first question NO - then the answer to the second question is, to me, that EDA companies can improve the ease with which one can translate test results to physical and logical design information - and do so in a vendor independent way.  It doesn't help to constrain the process through tight intra-vendor tool flows.
Yes, feedback is important.  

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