Within a few months, the first PCs will emerge bearing 400-MHz Rambus memories. This has been assisted, in part, by test technology from Tanisys Technology Inc., Austin, Texas. The latest member of the Tanisys test stable, the DarkHorse SIGMA3 Model 800 was unveiled at last week's Nepcon West '99 show in Anaheim, Calif. The unit tests 800-MHz (data rate) Rambus-in-line memory modules for less initial hardware cost than what's currently on the market, according to the company.
Competitive solutions in the form of large ATE systems with Rambus test facilities start at more than $1 million, and up to $4 million for eight sites. By comparison, the Model 800 ranges from $225,000 to $995,000.
The Model 800 uses the same technology that future PCs will use to interface with the Rambus memory. And the new member of the DarkHorse family does not turn to exotic semiconductor technology for its drivers, using instead an undisclosed ASIC company's fast CMOS process.
Tanisys appears to have another technology advantage. Two months ago, the company signed an agreement with Rambus Inc. to co-develop affordable testers for RIMM modules using the Rambus 800-MHz memory-interface technology.
For those testing memory modules, Tanisys said the com-pany's design lets it turn around a new tester in only four weeks, cutting months from lead time in adding new test capacity.
In operation, the Model 800 tests modules at their full operating speed, verifies the connectivity of all inputs and outputs, checks the RDRAM's leakage currents, initializes the RDRAMs for accessibility, and performs a full functional test on the RDRAM cores to verify all cells. In addition, the unit performs data retention and other tests.
Other features of the Model 800 include a single socket for all device testing, which the company says will save test time; variable loading and timing plug-in cards; scripting-language development tools; a temperature test option; data logging; a monthly test capacity of up to 2 million devices; and a wide line of automation accessories.