Advantest Glossary / Business Briefing

A-D

Advanced package

Semiconductor chips are often integrated into packages. Compared to traditional semiconductor packaging, advanced packages enable higher device density and functionality with a smaller footprint.

Application processor

Sometimes abbreviated as APU, these semiconductors control the operation of smartphones. They are among the products facing the greatest increases in test complexity due to the adoption of leading-edge semiconductor processes.

ASIC

Application Specific Integrated Circuit. ASICs are integrated circuits designed and manufactured so as to combine all the functions required for a specific application. Designs can be optimized to meet the required specifications.

Automotive device

A general term for semiconductors installed in automobiles. Semiconductors are used to control most functions in modern cars, including collision avoidance, balance control, car navigation, and fuel injection control. Because a malfunction in a car can impact human life, automotive devices must be highly reliable and durable, and they tend to be carefully tested.

Burn-in test

A back-end test that uses specialized equipment to apply temperature and voltage loads to devices over long periods of time, accelerating the occurrence of failures. Early detection and removal of defects improves device reliability.

Capacity buys

Investment in testers to support increased production of semiconductors.

Communication IC

These semiconductors are used for wireless communications. The main applications are smartphones and their base stations. Communication ICs are also called RF devices.

Core test

Core tests are performed during memory semiconductor back-end test processes to confirm that memory cells can be read and written correctly. Core test does not have to be performed at actual operating speed, and medium- to low-speed testers are often used even for high-speed DRAM.

DI

Device Interface. A general term for adapters that electrically and physically mediate between a device and a tester. By using DI products optimized for the size and specifications of each device, manufacturers can test various types of devices with a single tester.

DRAM

Direct Random Access Memory. DRAM semiconductors are the most common form of high-speed memory device. Although their data writing and reading speeds are far faster than NAND flash, DRAM devices lose data when the power is turned off.

E-I

Fabless

Fabless semiconductor companies do not have manufacturing facilities, and only carry out design and sales.

Foundry

Foundries carry out semiconductor front-end processes. Fabless companies specializing in research and development can reduce investment risk by outsourcing front-end processes that require large capital investments, such as lithography, to foundries.

HBM

High Bandwidth Memory. HBM devices consist of multiple DRAM chips stacked into a single device. The stacked structure reduces mounting area and increases wiring density, achieving faster speeds, larger capacity, lower power consumption, and so on.

HPC devices

High Performance Computing devices. These semiconductors are designed to perform large-scale calculations at high speed in data servers, AI servers, etc. The market is rapidly expanding with the spread of AI, machine learning, and deep learning, and HPC has become an important driver for the tester business.

I/F Speed test

An important test that checks device operating speed, performed during back-end memory semiconductor test. Test at a speed equal to the operating frequency of the device is called "at-speed test." As device speeds increase, testers must stay one step ahead, as they are required to send and receive high-speed electrical signals that exceed the device specifications.

IC socket

A general term for test sockets that electrically connect packaged devices with testers.

IDM

Integrated Device Manufacturer. These vertically integrated chipmakers carry out the entire semiconductor manufacturing process in-house, from design and manufacturing to sales.

J-P

Known good die

An unpackaged chip (bare die) that is considered good quality. When front-end and back-end test processes are carried out by different companies, the front-end company guarantees that the bare die is a known good die before handing it over to the back-end company.

Logic IC

Logic ICs are semiconductors that incorporate logic circuits for digital signal processing. Types of logic ICs range from HPC devices that handle AI and machine learning, to application processors that control smartphones, power semiconductors, image sensors, and so on.

Mainframe

Sometimes abbreviated MF. A mainframe houses the tester's power supply, controller, cooling equipment, etc.

Memory

Memory semiconductors specialize in writing, reading, and deleting data.

Miniaturization

Also known as node transition or node migration, miniaturization involves narrowing the circuit width (distance between circuits) of semiconductors. As miniaturization progresses, more circuits can be packed into the same silicon area, enabling power saving, lower costs, and higher functionality.

NAND

NAND is the most common type of flash memory. Its advantages are large capacity and low price. Although these devices operate at slower speeds than DRAM, they can retain data even when the power is turned off.

NOR

Formerly the most common type of flash memory. NOR is more reliable than NAND, but has less storage capacity.

Optical devices

These components convert current into light, or light into current. They are used for light sources and optical transmission. LEDs are a representative type of optical device.

OSAT

Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly and Test. OSATs carry out back-end semiconductor processes such as assembly and test. The OSATs that only perform test are called "test houses."

Package test (final test)

A general term for back-end test. After wafer test, the semiconductor is diced into individual chips, which are then packaged. Package test is carried out at the final stage of packaging to ensure functionality.

Parallelism

The number of devices that a tester can test simultaneously. The higher a tester's parallelism, the better its productivity.

Power devices

These components control voltage and frequency, and convert direct current to alternating current and vice versa. They are widely used in electronic equipment, automobiles, industrial equipment, wind power generation, solar power generation, etc. They enable optimized power supply to equipment and play a major role in energy consumption reduction.

Probe card

A type of device interface that electrically connects the wafer and tester with a probe (needle).

Q-Z

Quality buys

Investment in testers to support increasing demands for semiconductor quality and reliability, which lengthen test times.

Semiconductor test

Semiconductor test includes various tests, depending on the function and application of the device. The main tests are:

  • Function test: Confirms that the device operates as designed
  • Timing test: Confirms that the device outputs within the specified time following input
  • Electrical characteristics test: Confirms that the device does not suffer from current leakage

Sensor

Components that convert external forces such as light and gravity into electrical signals, such as the image sensors used in cameras, acceleration sensors, pressure sensors, gyro sensors, and magnetic sensors.

SLT

System-Level Test. These tests are performed as an additional test insertion after back-end tests. The system-level test is conducted in final application mode in order to screen for defects that escaped regular semiconductor test. SLT is regarded as a growth area.

SoC

System on Chip. SoC devices are space-saving, multifunctional semiconductors that integrate multiple circuits (IP) onto a single chip.

Technology buys

Investment in testers triggered by technological advances such as improvements in semiconductor performance and increased device complexity, which lead to longer test times.

Test cell

A test cell is a collective term for semiconductor test equipment, handlers, and device interfaces, all of which are needed for automated semiconductor test. A front-end test cell consists of tester + prober + probe card, while a back-end test cell consists of tester + handler + performance board (load board).

Test head

Sometimes abbreviated as TH, a test head houses a module (card) that integrates all the functions and circuits needed for test. By swapping out the module, a variety of tests can be performed with a single tester.

Test module

An integrated circuit board housed in the test head. A module is a block of electrical circuits required for semiconductor test, whose specifications vary depending on the device to be tested. By swapping out the module, a variety of tests can be performed with a single tester. The test module is responsible for much of the tester's performance.

Test time

The time required to test a semiconductor. Higher functionality and quality mean that higher-end semiconductors tend to have longer test times.

TSV

Through Silicon Via. It is one of the technologies used to manufacture 3D ICs, where multiple stacked chips are electrically coupled with electrodes that pass through the stack (vias). Although TSV achieves significant power savings and high speeds, it is difficult to implement.

Wafer (sort) test

Wafer test refers to testing semiconductors while they are still in the form of a wafer, also called front-end test. Tests are performed by electrically connecting the tester and the wafer with a device interface called a probe card.

Wafer prober

Equipment that transports the wafer to be tested and connects it to the probe card during front-end test.

Yield

The percentage of semiconductors manufactured that are not defective.

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