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,
Today’s microcontrollers have a complex mix of digital and analog technology. There are typically several different IP modules pulled together to form a complete solution. The heart of these devices can consist of 8, 16 or 32 bit processing units, and are augmented by a memory for both user and program space, communications ports for connecting to other parts of a system, and a plethora of interfaces to the external world (data converters, comparators, RF ports, general purpose digital ports, etc…).
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.
So what are the key test challenges for microcontroller testing? From a technical respective what will the tester require?
- Digital pin resources for the computing core and external digital pins
- APG capability for the embedded memory core
- Current measurement capability to verify the extremely low power mode for these devices.
- Small signal source and measure capability to handle 16 bits of resolution and beyond for ADC or DAC testing
- Emulate “capacitive” touch
- Instruments for power management that provide voltage source and measure accuracy
- RF signal source and measure capabilities in a low cost platform
- High multi-site test capability
- Focused, low cost solutions
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.
So what are the LTXC tm solutions for different types of microcontrollers?
Our Diamond platform is the primary platform used for most microcontrollers, The Diamond platform has several innovative features that make it a leading solution for testing microcontrollers. Among the stand out features are:
- Flexibility in the digital pin for better triggering, configurability and granularity
- High density digital channel cards with 96 channels per board
- A high density V/I board with 72 channels of voltage/current source and measure capability
- Multiwave instrumentation for mixed signal test requirements
- Scalable to over 2200 digital and analog channels using IMA technology. IMA technology allows customers to combine multiple Diamond testers into a single system on their production floor, providing industry leading multi-site counts and test time efficiencies
- Very high MTBF and very low operating costs
- Compact footprint
The Diamond provides an unsurpassed combination of test technology and innovation, designed to deliver customers the lowest cost of test for high volume microcontroller testing. Talk to us about using Diamond to cut your production test costs in half!
Learn more about the Diamond Test Platform.
For microcontrollers with specialized requirements like RF or high power, the X-Series is the recommended product. The X-Series, LTX-Credence’s most diversified test platform capable of testing a wide range of devices from RF power amplifiers to complex SOCs is well suited to test even the most complex microcontrollers. With the X-Series engineers have access to some of the industry leading mixed signal test technology including:
- Program and DUT site compatibility across the entire platform (LX, MX, EX)
- Full featured mixed signal digital pins, up to 1024
- RF port scalability to 40 ports and 8GHz
- Tester-independent feature-rich software environment
- Broad range of DC instruments including high current or high voltage options
- DSP instruments support both modulation and DUT-centric testing
So if you have a microcontroller with complex analog or RF requirements then the X-Series can get the job done.
Learn more about the X-Series Test Platform.