1998 Southwest Test Workshop
(View the proceedings - a "large" Adobe Acrobat file)

The Southwest Test Workshop was held at the Princess Resort Hotel in San Diego from May 31 to June 3, 1998. This was the fifth year the workshop focused on microelectronic wafer level testing, and 415 wafer test professionals attended. It was a record attendance for the SWTW and surprising in light of the severe travel restrictions in place at numerous semiconductor manufacturers.

The workshop began Sunday afternoon with special activities for early arrivals. There was an excursion to the nearby Torrey Pines Hang Glider port where we enjoyed taking photos of gliders and parasails overlooking the Pacific on a beautiful afternoon. We were all surprised to discover that the glider port was just a little north of San Diego's famous, bathing suit optional, Black's Beach. Out came the telephoto lenses! Meanwhile, 175 attended the SWTW first Probe Technology Tutorial. Three presentations were given on Gauge R&R, probe card manufacturing and metrology, and a description of the SEMI task force Probe Standards recently sent out to ballot.

The official workshop began at 5:00pm with registration, a get acquainted reception, and a Mexican buffet dinner. This year, the customary Sunday evening panel session took on a unique challenge. One mission of the SWTW has always been to inform the equipment and service suppliers about the needs and expectations of the semiconductor manufacturers, but we had never specifically addressed this task. Therefore, the six panel members, all semiconductor manufacturers, describe in detail what they wanted and expected today, and in the future, and their priorities in terms of price, performance and other factors. Their opening statements were followed by an active audience discussion.

The technical sessions began Monday morning with a contact resistance session including a presentation on the theoretical aspects and two presentations on the extensive empirical data taken for a Sematech study. The next session focused on two brand new probe card technologies and unique advances made in probe needles. After lunch, we had a session on probe needle cleaning including insitu methods on probers, unusual tricks and lessons learned, and an excellent survey of five different cleaning methods (which ended up winning the best presentation award).

Following the afternoon break, we had three non-overlapping parallel breakout sessions. The first session was in the specialized area of RF probing where three presentations discussed RF characteristics of materials used in probe test fixturing, new RF software simulation and modeling tools, and characterization of some membrane probe cards. The second parallel session was a panel and audience discussion of activities to reduce the cost of wafer testing. Discussion topics included baselining where the costs were, improved equipment utilization, sample probing, reduced test times, and many others. One important point discussed was that sometimes wafer test cost is actually increased to achieve reductions in the back-end test cost; the goal is to reduce the overall product cost. The third session was also a panel and attendee discussion. It concentrated on the somewhat unique technologies of memory probing including massively parallel probing, offline redundancy repair, BIST, and full wafer burn-in.

After a hard day of probe technology, the attendees enjoyed a cocktail party at the hotel's Barefoot Bar, and then a great dinner in the Sunset Ballroom overlooking Mission Bay. After dinner, everyone was invited to continue informal technical discussions, have a little more dessert, and enjoy some after-dinner "cordials" in another conference area.

Tuesday morning began with a session on overall probing accuracy. Four presentations discussed the effects of docking, prober accuracies, and temperature on the ability to hit within a few microns of the center of the probe pad, every pad, all the time. The next session focused on area array probing, where the probe pads are distributed over the entire area of the die instead of being restricted to the perimeter. The first presentation was an overview from Sematech describing interesting technology drivers, the present and future trends, and some informative cost benchmarks. The next presentation was an excellent summary of the over 20 years experience of IBM, and this was followed by another presentation of the cost issues of vertical probe cards.

Tuesday afternoon was dedicated to social interaction. Since everyone knows that more than 50% of the value of a workshop is the informal technical discussions, the SWTW does not simply encourage them; it makes them happen. Three activities were available. Thirty-seven people played miniature golf at the hotel course and a few more opted for a higher level of play at a nearby Torrey Pines course. Two hundred and fifty attendees and spouses spent the afternoon at Sea World. About 125 boarded a misplaced Mississippi Stern Wheeler from the hotel dock for a two-hour sightseeing cruise around Mission Bay. Official SWTW hats and suntan lotion were passed out to all.

Tuesday evening we had another cocktail party and then our awards banquet. Awards were given for the best data presented, best overall presentation, lowest miniature golf score, and poorest disguised sales pitch (The Royal Order of the Golden Wheelbarrow full of Crap). It is somewhat unusual to have an awards banquet before the workshop is completely over, so the SWTW also gives an award to all the Wednesday presenters. The coveted Worst Sunburn Award could not be given because the SWTW had accidentally received only SPF4 suntan lotion, and there were too many qualified recipients.

Our first session Wednesday morning was on fine pitch probe cards. With higher I/Os and device shrinks, tighter pitch perimeter cards are becoming more important. This session had three presentations on cards with pitches of 67, 45, and 40 micrometers. The final session was on the various issues of wafer testing in order to supply Known Good Die. The first presentation was an overview of KGD including the activities of a Die Products Consortium of major manufacturers. This was followed by a presentation on full wafer burn-in, and then a presentation of the EIA/JEDEC JC-13 KGD standard. The final presentation described the successful approach for testing a complex 1500 I/O device requiring over 70 watts, appropriately entitled, "Scotty, I need more power!"

By most measures the 1998 SWTW was the best. We tried some new things such as the Probe Tutorial, and we increased the activities for informal discussions. We had 3 excellent panel and audience discussions and 29 technical presentations. A copy of the presentations will be posted on the Computer Society web, a CD ROM is being made for the attendees in addition to the printed conference proceedings handed out during the workshop, and we plan to give copies of the CD ROM to attendees of the special probe session at the 1998 ITC. The next SWTW will begin Sunday afternoon, June 6, 1999 at the Paradise Point Resort in San Diego