Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

The Collaborative Alliance for Semiconductor Test (CAST) will join SEMI as a special interest group to better manage and accelerate industry progress on critical test issues. CAST expects to gain administrative efficiencies, global resources, SEMI International Standards support, and greater recognition for the CAST agenda. CAST will transfer its governance structure and agenda to SEMI and discontinue operations as a separate non-profit entity, but will continue to try to engage with other industry groups.

T2000 OPENSTAR-compliant test platform (source: Advantest)

T2000 OPENSTAR-compliant test platform (source: Advantest)

CAST was formed in 2008 by semiconductor device makers and OEMs to work on common industry issues related to test:  equipment utilization, lower costs, and greater standardization and ROI on test-related R&D. Charter CAST supporters include (alphabetically): Advantest, Amkor, Infineon, Intel, LTX-Credence, Qualcomm, Roos Instruments, Teradyne, and Verigy. Interestingly, both Infineon and Intel are also members of the Semiconductor Test Consortium (STC)—which aspires to many of the same objectives as CAST—so perhaps the two organizations will somehow be officially aligned.

CAST objectives include:
1. Pre-competitive collaboration on test cost and efficiency,
2. R&D and promotion of international standards (including interoperability) that enable productivity improvements,
3. Benchmarks for quantifying test efficiency and effectiveness,
4. Advocate for a better understanding of the strategic value of test to the industry.

“By joining SEMI as a special interest group, test suppliers and their customers throughout the world will be able to effectively collaborate on pre-competitive standards across company boundaries,” said Don Edenfeld, Manufacturing Test Equipment Development Manager at Intel Corporation, and CAST Co-chair. The advocacy role may be of subtle but significant value, since the value of test itself has often been questioned by naïve designers (and some fab engineers). Particularly in the era of nanoscale structures with inherent systematic variability, test may add more value than any other process step! –E.K.

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