Thanks for your reply. In fact I have used IC testers myself and have written test programs and managed a sub-contractor doing the same thing! I guess what I'd call an IC tester is used to test that the IC has been made right; our ATE is used to check it's been designed right.
@jack, I tend to think of lanes in more-or-less the same way as Lance, a differential pair that makes up a transmission line. For example, a 100Gbps serial link is made of 4x25Gbps "lanes." Actually, its more like 28Gbps given overhead. In effedct, you have a parallel-serial bus.
@Jack, When I was editor of Test & Measurement World (print), I ran across the same thing. ATE means different things to different people, as we see here. At T&MW, we referred to ATE as those "big iron" testers similar to Lance's definition. But yes, I often ran into people whose definition of ATE was a bunch of instruments controlled by a PC, as you've stated.
ATE as we defined it at T&MW was usually used for testing ICs, often digital such as memory and processors.
The military uses many test stations for functionl testing where the station is made of instruments (box and modular) controlled by a PC. But, they are often called ATE. In writing about military test, I could never use ATE because our copy editors would tell me that's wrong according to our definitions.
At the time, we had two technical editors. I covered test stations according to your definition and the other editor covered ATE per Lance's definition. But then, we shared attending Autotestcon, which is all about military automated functional test, not IC test. I never understood why.
Lanes are simply P/N pairs of a transmitter, reciever or transciever or the chip itself. The article is really about the load board, system board, or evaluation board design and interface, not the actual ATE itself. Ballout is the pin out of the device(IC) you are trying to test, if you are testing a board or a subassembly this would not apply. High speed test of IC's themselves can't have IC's soldered to boards. These chips are being tested before they go into further assemblies. Certainly if you are performing board, subassembly or system level testing you would have the parts already assembled to the board instead of using a socket. The ATE's being refered o here are really what we call the semiconductor testers from companies like Advantest, Verigy, LTX, etc. It could also be a rack and stack test setup, but still targeted at the IC.
Testing our ICs using ATE is very important to our business and it always takes forever to run. So, I thought, an article about high-speed ATE looks interesting...
So, let's start with some of the easier and more obvious requirements...
- lanes? PN pairs? what?
- we find ICs perform better when they're soldered to PCBs rather than in sockets
To me ATE is a load of testgear controlled by software running on a PC. Lanes and ballout (whatever they are) don't come into it. Isn't it amazing how different two people's interpretation of something can be?