SAN JOSE -- Rumors are running rampant that Intel Corp. has placed a new and large order for automatic test equipment (ATE) from Japan's Advantest Corp., according to several sources and analysts in the industry.
Sources believe that Advantest is building a new line of "structural testers" for Intel. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant is reportedly using these testers for next-generation chip products, possibly even microprocessors, according to sources.
Nick Konidaris, president and chief executive of Advantest's U.S. subsidiary, Advantest America Inc., was out of the office and could not be reached for comment on Friday. A spokeswoman for Santa Clara-based Advantest America said the company does not comment on customer relationships. Intel could not be reached for comment.
Intel uses several ATE suppliers for chip-testing purposes. On the microprocessor side of the house, Intel uses testers from Teradyne Inc. and NPTest Inc., formerly known as Schlumberger Semiconductor Solutions.
The microprocessor giant also uses ATE from Advantest--at least to some degree. The Japanese company has made it no secret that it is the main test house for the ill-fated Alpha microprocessor.
The 64-bit Alpha processor was developed by Digital Equipment Corp. in the 1980s. Then, Compaq Computer Corp., which acquired DEC in 1998, assumed control of the chip and rolled a line of servers based on the technology.
Last year, Intel signed a deal to essentially take over Compaq's 64-bit Alpha processor technology and subsequently infuse it into future generations of Intel's own IA-64 processors following the Itanium. As part of the deal, Compaq will move all of its 64-bit server and workstations to Intel IA-64 bit processors by 2004.