With the exception of general purpose computers, microcontrollers are the brains behind most electronics and have a very wide range of end applications, including automotive, industrial and consumer products.
As the number of bits in the core processing unit increases, so does the complexity of the end application. For example, 8 bit microcontrollers are used in applications such as toys, home appliances and game controllers. 16-bit microcontrollers are the brains behind medical devices, security systems and hand-held instruments. At the 32 bit level the end applications for these microcontrollers include smart phones, tablets, bank ATMs and automotive infotainment applications. In smart phones and tablets the touch screen microcontroller represents a very high growth market segment.
A microcontroller interacts with the real world by taking inputs from its surroundings and converting them into a format that can be used to make decisions via the internal processor or drive other devices in the system. This information may be RF, power, capacitive or resistive inputs or other technologies. In automotive safety applications microcontrollers may have Radar-based RF technology integrated into the device for the purpose of detecting potential collisions with people or objects. The information from the RF port provides a stimulus to the microcontroller, allowing it to determine if an alarm needs to be sounded based on the proximity of an on-coming object. Microcontrollers in the smart phone or tablet market receive inputs based on the capacitance of a finger as it makes contact with a touch screen directing the phone or tablet what to do next.
Microcontrollers are a high volume market and depending on the end application can be very cost sensitive. In fact most of the growth associated with microcontrollers over the last twenty years has been driven by the growth in consumer electronics.
The extremely cost sensitive nature of this market puts an excessive amount of pressure on the test community to constantly drive down costs. Microcontroller manufacturers seek to drive down the cost of test by testing high volume parts in high levels of multi-site test. Very high volume devices can be tested in strip form to take advantage of massive multi-site techniques. The benefit of strip testing is the ability to test a very high number of devices in parallel, many more than for stand alone, singulated devices.
Strip Testing of Microcontrollers
Because of the high volume of certain types of microcontrollers, strip test methodology has gained in popularity. LTXC has a unique solution to address strip test requirements. Our IMA, technology allows customers to combine multiple, individual test systems into one large system capable of massive multisite test. This solution for the production floor provides customers the ultimate in flexibility.