1994 Southwest Test Workshop

One-hundred and fifty-two test professionals attended the two-and-a-half-day long 1994 edition of the Southwest Test Workshop on May 23-25 at the San Diego Princess Hotel, Mission Bay, California. Sixty-six companies were represented, with two-thirds of the attendees from microelectronic manufacturers and one-third from companies who supply services and equipment to the wafer-sort industry. The 1994 workshop was the first in the series to focus on wafer-level testing, addressing a need perceived by Bill Mann, the workshop organizer. Workshop participants generally agreed that the meeting was indeed timely and was apparently the first national technical forum on wafer-level testing.

The program consisted of 26 technical presentations, two open discussions, two panel discussions, and a guest speaker. One-third of the presentations were from industry and two-thirds from vendors. The vendors generally did a very good job addressing issues and discussing technology instead of presenting product sales pitches. While there were a few who momentarily lost control and reverted to "sales" mode, the audience quickly snapped them back into line. In the post-workshop survey, 83% of the attendees felt that the numerous vendor presentations worked out well. Even the 17% attendees who thought there was a little too much "selling" going on rated the overall workshop as 13% excellent, 50% very good, and 25% good.

The workshop began Sunday evening, May 22, with registration, a reception, and a buffet Mexican dinner. A panel discussion on the mechanical and electrical interface between probers and testers followed. Three prober vendors and three ATE vendors discussed their experiences, alliances, and some lessons learned.

Formal technical presentations began Monday morning with the participants discussing needle-probe cards and membrane cards. After lunch, the three major production-prober manufacturers presented their vision of next-generation equipment. Bill had planned that everyone would then participate in a miniature golf tournament to promote professional networking, but workshop attendance was much larger than the hotel's course could hold. Consequently, the more athletic attendees golfed while the rest enjoyed an impromptu panel on probe-card technologies.

That evening, everyone enjoyed dinner and then heard from guest speaker Jim Mulady, a veteran in microelectronic testing, now editor-publisher of the Final Test Report. The presentations continued Tuesday with probe-card standardization, sub- contracted probe-card fabrication issues, and open discussion. The next session dealt with the impact on the sort business of the JEDEC Known-Good-Die standard. Experiences with hot-chuck probing were described, followed by another open discussion. That afternoon the workshop discussed off-line inking and inkless probing. On Tuesday evening everyone enjoyed a beautiful Sunset Dinner Cruise around Mission Bay. Wednesday, the workshop addressed the demands of new higher- performance devices. Presentations described ultra-high-performance probe cards, extremely low-capacitance prober-tester interfaces, and area-array die probing (flip chip or C4 type devices). The final theme was identifying and correcting probe-card wearout.

The workshop was an almost overwhelming success. Originally planned for 50 to 75 participants, it quickly grew and registration had to be limited to 150 participants two weeks before the workshop. Wafer testing has always been a critical and highly specialized area of microelectronic testing, and the attendees truly appreciated the opportunity for a national technical forum on the topic. The overall rating from attendees was 45% excellent, 45% very good, and 8% good.

The workshop's success has led to a special panel session at ITC '94. Panelists who participated in the workshop will present workshop highlights and then will join an open discussion with the audience. The panel session will be held on Monday evening, October 3, at the Sheraton Washington Hotel, Washington DC.