Monthly Archives: April 2018

Examining a microchip

Best Practices: IC Troubleshooting & IC Failure Analysis

“Perception is reality,” we have heard this often. When an IC fails or the customer thinks that it failed, we must respond with an FA. Yet, to do that effectively, we must have accurate, pertinent information about the incident. That is the only way to avoid guesswork.


Let me relate an incident that happened not so long ago. A part was returned as a failure and we knew nothing else. We ran it on the automatic test equipment (ATE), bench tested, x-rayed, and decapped the part. We flooded it with soft electrons in an electron microscope to look for emission sites indicating damage. We measured its temperature using a liquid crystal coating. The part was perfect. We found no reason for failure, so the QA department said exactly that in the FA report. Why, we wondered, was the part returned as failed?


About two months later we learned almost by accident that the customer experienced this failure only when the part was heated above +60°C. We started the FA again. We tested the part at room temperature (+25°C), and we found… nothing. The part no longer functioned as it was destroyed in the process of testing it.


Ultimately, this was a one-time return event; it did not happen again. But there was something more important learned in this episode: without crucial performance (i.e. failure) data we were blind and guessing. We wasted considerable time and money for nothing.


An Exhaustive Exercise in QA Futility


Many times a failed IC is so damaged that the origin of the damage cannot be determined. One customer took a board from the assembly contractor back to their lab facility. There they removed the IC from the board and claimed that the IC failed. Very likely. The customer came to a conclusion: a “root cause” in the IC itself. They wanted an FA, but where was the failure data? Were the circumstances recorded carefully? What would prevent future failures? We were back to guessing, not fact checking—hardly a prescription for a meaningful FA.


In this case the customer had concentrated on three pins of a multioutput device. Here is what we did know: the part left the fab operating with a certainty of a few parts in billions; it operated in a circuit for hours before it failed. Was it an infant failure or was it damaged by external handling? Had it been in the customer’s circuit? In the application environment? Did electrostatic discharge (ESD) at the factory weaken the circuit so it failed later? Perhaps there was damage by a shipping clerk who ignored an ESD protocol? The list of possible factors seemed endless.




The first partial schematic received from the customer was not very helpful. It showed neither what drove the failed part nor what the part needed to drive. The local FAE was asked to check the ground. Were the grounds separated correctly? You could not tell from the schematic.


We received a few more pieces of the schematic, but now had more questions than answers. Why did the customer check at only three of many outputs? Were any input or output pins of the device connected with low impedances to board pins? Was the power and ground count as low impedance connections? Could ESD on the board pins be the issue? We were still guessing.



This is a guest post by Sage Analytical Lab


T2M announces availability of Bluetooth SIG qualified v5 Bluetooth Low Energy Controller, Stack and Profiles IP from Mindtree

T2M, the world’s largest independent global semiconductor technology provider, announced the availability of Mindtree’s BQB (Bluetooth Qualification Body) qualified Bluetooth v5 Controller, Stack and Profiles (Declaration ID #D038059 and #D038060). This makes Mindtree the first company to qualify a full featured Bluetooth Low Energy 5 IP with TCRL 2 Specifications. This IP has already been licensed to multiple Tier 1 microcontroller semiconductor companies and will be showcased in the upcoming Bluetooth Asia (May 30th, 31st 2018) in Shenzhen.


BlueLitE v5 Single Mode, Controller and Stack & Profile IP

Bluetooth v5 is the recent upgrade to the Bluetooth Low Energy standard. It provides a 2X increase in speed, 4X increase in the range, 8X increase in broadcasting capacity when compared to the v4.2 specification.


Mindtree’s certified BlueLitE IP, is a comprehensive offering for Bluetooth Low Energy v5, supporting all the mandatory and optional features. Architected for low foot-print and ultra-low power, the BlueLitE controller delivers best-in-class performance.


Mindtree’s Bluetooth Low Energy v5 Protocol Stack & Profiles software is BQB-certified and highly optimized to run equally efficiently on embedded platforms and host CPUs. The software is highly interoperable and designed for portability across OS, MCU architectures.





Mindtree’s certified Bluetooth v1.0 Mesh is a full featured SW stack and the is the leading solution for enabling Bluetooth in IoT markets such as Connected Home, Smart Lighting and Industrial wireless sensor network markets.


Mindtree is the leading Bluetooth Technology licensing company with a proven track record of delivering mature, full featured, high performance and high-quality IP on time, every time, with several of our BlueLitE v5 licensees already having Chipsets ready for production.” said Partha De, Technical Director, Short Range Wireless Business, Mindtree Ltd. “We have always led the market, delivering BQB Certified technology to our customers ahead of competition. Mindtree was the first company to qualify 4.2 and now the first company to qualify full featured Bluetooth low energy 5.0 IP with TCRL 2 Specifications. This assures our customers’ project success”.


Nigel Dixon, CEO of T2M, remarked “Mindtree’s BQB qualified v5 Bluetooth Low Energy Controller, Stack, Profiles and MESH, in combination with other clients’ leadership RF IPs, provides our customers with a leadership certified system solution. Mindtree’s SW Stack is the most widely used and interoperability-tested independent stack on the market, ensuring our customers a state-of- the-art, trouble-free product. We are very proud to have been the global business development partner of Mindtree Bluetooth business unit for the past 5 years, and look forward to many more years of leadership in this exciting market”.



About Mindtree

Mindtree [NSE: MINDTREE] is the leading IP and Technology Services provider with 43 offices across 17 countries, with more than 15 years of expertise in Bluetooth technology development and IP licensing. Mindtree has consistently certified generations of its silicon and software IP from v1.1 to v5.0 by Bluetooth SIG. Mindtree’s Bluetooth technology is the most widely used and real world validated 3rd party Bluetooth technology, with 4 out of the top 5 microcontroller companies, as well as module makers, OEMs and ODMs having licensed Mindtree’s Bluetooth IP. Mindtree is acknowledged by the Bluetooth SIG as one of the co-creators of the Bluetooth 5, 4.2, 4.1, 4.0 specifications.



About T2M

T2M is the world’s largest independent global semiconductor technology provider, supplying complex IP, software, KGD and disruptive technologies enabling accelerated production of IoT, wireless, consumer and automotive electronics devices. Located in all key tech clusters around the world, our senior management team provides local access to leadership companies and technology. For more information, please visit


HardwareBee Lunches an Online Marketplace for FPGA Design Companies

 HardwareBee, an independent hardware blog, launched today an online marketplace linking electronic design service providers and companies in search of development services. Covering electronic design services, FPGA design services, embedded software companies, PCB layout services, PCB assembly & manufacturing services, and turnkey service providers. The HardwareBee site allows companies to easily find electronic development and production vendors anywhere in the world with specific domain expertise that matches their needs.


With over 4000 vendors providing electronic development services, HardwareBee helps companies in search of service providers to a wider set of options, particularly smaller vendors with limited online presence. For Hardware vendors, the platform offers the opportunity to showcase their offering, share their success stories, and generate leads.



About HardwareBee

Founded in 2017, HardwareBee is the best way to explore, find and contact electronic design service providers online. HardwareBee’s vision is to be the first place hardware engineers and decision makers go to search for electronic development providers.




vtran feature

VTRAN by Source III Supports Advantest SmarTest 8 Translations

Advantest has announced a new programming environment, known as SmarTest 8, for the popular V93000 tester. As more and more users switch to SmarTest 8, it becomes important to have a vector translation tool capable of converting between popular vector formats and SmarTest 8.


Source III is proud to announce that its leading vector translation program VTRAN provides full support for your SmarTest 8 vector translations. With VTRAN, you can now easily link test patterns from DFT tools and ATPG (which are typically in WGL or STIL format) to this powerful new program environment.




In addition, functional patterns from Logic Simulation – which are typically in VCD or EVCD format – can be translated into SmarTest 8 test programs.


Additional features of our SmarTest8 support include:


  • ReadBack for SmarTest 8 validation using Verilog Testbench or VHDL Testbench
  • Writer for SmarTest 8 that supports signal group, timing, wavetable, and several other file types.
  • XMode feature which gives improvements in tester speed and memory compaction of vector data by combining multiple devices into a single tester cycle.
  • Free running clock feature that provides the ability to handle asynchronous clocks, and more.
  • Multiport support, which provides a top-level specification file with period/frequency definitions and imports extracted from the timing file. After multiple multiport translations, these top-level files can be merged thus reducing the need for any post-processing of the timing files.


VTRAN is the most cost-effective, powerful vector translation system used in IC design and test. It is capable of converting to and between over 30 different test program and EDA formats and comes with several additional tools, such as VCAP, VGEN, and DFTView, that all assist with the translation process.


We’re pleased to be one of the first tools that can successfully support Advantest V93k’s newest programming environment, SmarTest 8, and we offer free evaluation licenses for those that want to try Source III’s VTRAN out for themselves. For more information, or to try VTRAN out for yourself, please visit today.



Amkor Factories Receive Key Automotive Certification

Amkor Technology, Inc., a leading provider of semiconductor packaging and test services, today announced that multiple factories have passed certification audits for IATF-16949:2016, a key certification required for manufacturers who supply products to the automotive market. IATF-16949:2016 replaces and supersedes the older ISO/TS-16949 standard.

Included in the list of factories that achieved certification is Amkor’s newest, K5 – a state-of-the-art facility with 2.3 million square feet of floor space located in Incheon, South Korea. K5 combines automation, world class particle control and automotive processes to meet stringent quality and reliability requirements.


“This certification is a testament to Amkor’s significant automotive experience, as well as our exacting quality standards,” said YongChul Park, Amkor’s executive vice president, Worldwide Manufacturing. “Semiconductors are the foundation for automotive electronic systems that help keep passengers connected and safe. Certifying our factories for automotive applications offers significant growth opportunities for Amkor and enables us to deliver the leading-edge solutions our customers and automotive OEMs require.”

Automotive ICs must perform reliably under harsh conditions for extended periods of time. To deliver the durability and accuracy expected by automakers, IC suppliers are required to use specialized packaging techniques with additional process steps and controls.


Amkor has factories in several countries that have achieved IATF-16949:2016 certification, including ATK, ATP, ATM, ATT, and ATC; IATF-16949:2016 certifications for J-Devices and Amkor Technology Portugal are in process. For more information, visit


Learn more about Amkor’s automotive solutions by downloading our Automotive IC Packaging brochure in EnglishJapanese or Korean



About ISO/TS-16949 and IATF-16949:2016


ISO/TS-16949 was jointly developed by The International Automotive Task Force (IATF) members and emphasizes the development of a process-oriented quality management system that provides for continual improvement, defect prevention, and reduction of variation and waste in the supply chain.

About the International Automotive Task Force (IATF)

The IATF is a group of automotive manufacturers and their respective trade associations, formed to provide improved quality products to automotive customers worldwide.

The IATF members include BMW Group, Chrysler Group, Daimler AG, Fiat Group Automobile, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Renault SA, Volkswagen AG, AIAG (U.S.), ANFIA (Italy), FIEV (France), SMMT (U.K.) and VDA (Germany).


Understanding High Temperature Storage Life (HTSL) in IC Qualification

For ASIC or IC, there are recommended environmental conditions for their storage which allows them to perform at proper functionally. However, it is well known that storage may not always be close to the recommended standard. This is where the high temperature storage life (HTSL) test comes into play, testing the parameters of the device, so that it can be determined what damage will result from being stored in less-than-ideal conditions.


The HTSL test in response to how many businesses and consumers may put away an electronic device for a considerable length of time in conditions that may include exposure to high temperature.


This type of test is used to screen, monitor, qualify, or evaluate all ASICs, which means they have no moving parts. The test itself is used to determine the overall effects of temperature and the passage of time for devices that are stored. This means that the device is tested to see how it reacts to being stored in high or low temperature environments along with the time it may spend in storage before being used. This includes data retention failure mechanisms or non-volatile memory devices.