1997 Southwest Test Workshop
(View the proceedings - a "large" Adobe Acrobat file)

Southwest Test Workshop started in 1990 as a small, regional meeting of test professionals who gathered to discuss general IC test topics. After three years of following that format the organizers, recognizing a need for a meeting focused on wafer testing, asked TTTC to approve a change of mission the rest is history. Workshop attendance grew to 148 that year, 238 the next year, and 288 last year.

This year, the workshop, which was held at the Princess Resort Hotel in Mission Bay, near San Diego, California, June 1-4, educated and entertained 400 enthusiastic participants.

In spite of its dramatic growth, SWTW still tries to maintain its workshop identity rather than become a formal symposium or conference. For example, the organizers believe that half the value of a technical meeting is in the informal interactions, so they devote a sizable portion of the workshop to long breaks and numerous social activities, such as a Mexican Fiesta, a Hawaiian Luau and three hosted cocktail receptions. Also, recognizing that unrehearsed panel discussions often reveal issues that would be too politically incorrect to present in a formal setting, SWTW '97 had four panel or open discussion sessions, all actively involving the audience. The initial Sunday evening panel discussion was video-taped. The tape was distributed to all attendees at the conclusion of the workshop.

SWTW's regular technical program began on Monday morning with a session on RF probing. One presentation concerned probe activities as evaluated by an ATE vendor. A mini-tutorial described the relationship between RF terminology and the high-frequency testing vernacular. After the morning break, the session dealt with the automatic probe-mark inspection features now included by the three major prober manufactures. Each manufacturer described their APM features and performance parameters, and then, to keep them honest, members of the audience shared their actual experiences in an open discussion.

Monday afternoon featured a variety of elective group activities designed to encourage informal discussions. The hotel's 18-hole miniature golf course entertained "golfers" in a putters-provided, shotgun-start tournament. Other attendees took a 2-hour San Diego sightseeing-trolley tour that included Old Town, downtown and other city sites, the wharf area, Coronado Island and Balboa Park. Another group took a San Diego Harbor Cruise and toured one of the largest recreational harbors on the West Coast, plus the fishing fleet, North Island Naval Air Station, and the US Navy fleet in dry dock. On Monday evening, all attendees enjoyed a Hawaiian Luau buffet dinner around the hotel pool.

The first session Tuesday morning discussed the issues of docking a many-hundred-pound test head with an even heavier prober, while requiring accuracies of a fraction-of-a- mil and gram. The first presentation covered the problem of conventional and newly developed interface solutions. The next two presentations provided detailed models and error-budget analysis as they relate to the interface itself and probe-card requirements. After the morning break, there were four presentations on high-temperature probing. These included an overview of some Sematech activities, a new matched-expansion probe card, an analytical model for probe-card performance at elevated temperature, and measured thermal-probe chuck performance.

Multi-die probing was the topic of the first session after lunch. Advances in cantilevered probe cards and newer probe technologies have found increasing applications in multiple die testing, so three microelectronic manufacturers presented their experiences with different probe technologies. Then, for the first time, the SWTW had two parallel breakout sessions in the afternoon. Each session had a panel which began the discussion and then the attendees, who had been enticed with cookies and soft drinks, were encouraged to share their views. The topics were probe operations and new probe technologies.

Tuesday evening, attendees enjoyed a formal dinner banquet which included awards and an after dinner speaker. Our after dinner speaker discussed the issues and potential solutions for a completely automated, lights-out, probe test operation. Then awards were given for the best presentation, best data, lowest miniature-golf score, worst sunburn, and the infamous SWTW award for the poorest-disguised sales pitch.

Wednesday morning featured a general session entitled Probe Potpourri. Three presentations covered: probe-needle materials; the roadmap to 50-micron probe pitch; and advanced technology in cantilever needle-probe cards. After the morning break, there were three excellent presentations on new probe-card technologies. The workshop adjourned Wednesday at noon.

Southwest Test Workshop 1998 is scheduled to begin with a tutorial Sunday afternoon, May 30,1998. Please contact the TTTC Office, EdDor@aol.com, if you would like to be on the mailing list for SWTW.