Every one of the billions of ICs that are produced each year has to be tested with automated test equipment. A manufacturer of IC testers was asked by their customer to increase the functionality of a product, but space was at a premium. Voler was selected to do this project because of our expertise in analog circuits and FPGA design.

High Density IC Tester Card

Voler designed and built a card that increases the functions available on an IC tester. At the heart of that equipment are circuits that apply precisely controlled voltages or currents and measure voltages and currents (called a VI for short). A limiting feature for many IC tests is the number of these VIs that are available in the tester. This required squeezing three VIs onto one small card. It wasn’t certain that it could be done at the beginning of the project.

There were numerous difficulties in making a dense complex layout with a precision analog circuit and a fast digital circuit on the same board. There are fast clock signals that are only ¼ inch from the most sensitive analog circuit. The coupling capacitance could not be more than 0.001 pF to meet the analog specifications. This is 100 times smaller than the coupling capacitance between typical circuit components.

We were able to fit all three VIs onto the card, and, because of the high quality of the design work, we eliminated a redesign cycle, finishing the project ahead of schedule and under budget. The card worked so well that the first prototypes were sent to their customer.