STMicro and Advantest Work to Improve Semiconductor Testing

December 24, 2020 by Stephanie Leonida

STMicro and Advantest create an advanced test cell to help improve efficiency of semiconductor testing and overall operations.

Swiss-based worldwide manufacturer of electronics and semiconductor technology, STMicroelectronics announced its recent collaboration with Advantest Corporation. Advantest is an industry leader in automated testing technologies used to verify the performance, quality, and reliability of semiconductors. Together, Advantest and STMicro developed a cutting-edge fully-automated final-test cell system. The system is hoped to be beneficial to global customers wishing to improve overall equipment efficiency and quality in semiconductor test and packaging operations.


STMicro and Advantest jointly developed the final-test cell system
STMicro and Advantest jointly developed the final-test cell system. Image used courtesy of STMicro 


What is This Test Cell System?

For industrial plant and warehouse owners, system operators, and engineers, the performance of employers, the machines they utilize, and streamlined workflows allowing for minimal production downtime are all important factors to successful operations. 

The final-test cell developed by both STMicro and Advantest has been developed to help reduce downtime, ensure lot testability, and smart re-testing. For this, a wide range of predictive-maintenance and operational features have been incorporated into its design. 

The advanced test cell is constituted of Advantest’s T2000 SoC test system and M4841 tri-temp automotive handler. It also comes with a fleet of Autonomous Robotic Vehicles (ARVs). The ARVs are programmed to transport trays of devices between the material repository and handler. This process is made operational through an ST Test Cell Controller (STCC). The tester and handler are controlled and monitored through the STCC software which also interfaces with ST’s Manufacturing Execution System (MES).This is a real-time Industry 4.0 tracking system that manages work in process and activity of equipment within a facility. More advanced interconnected hardware and software systems utlizing smart technology are fast becoming the framework for factories of the future. Part of making these factories materialize depends on the optimization of plant structure, plant processes, and plant digitization. Manufacturing facilities are turning to automation and complex machine learning as part of the digital transformation of their processes and operations. 

In a recent news release Fabio Gualandris provided his comments: “We have numerous ongoing projects addressing automation, analytics, and robotization across our global back-end operations, all designed to make our manufacturing processes more efficient and to meet the increasingly complex needs of our customers.” Gualandris is Executive Vice President, Head of STMicroelectronics’ Back-End Manufacturing & Technology organization. Gualandris added: “The close collaboration with Advantest is a good example of what can be achieved to support a network of fabs that tests billions of chips a year.”


Advantest’s M4841 Test Handler
Advantest’s M4841 Test Handler. Image used courtesy of Advantest 


The final-test cell system developed by STMicro and Advantest combines hardware and software that allows for fully automated test operations. These operations utilize machine learning and smart monitoring to help increase yields and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), while also helping to cut the cost-of-ownership (COO).

 “Helping our customers achieve a fully ‘lights off’ automated semiconductor test production floor is one of our strategic goals,” said Yoshiaki Yoshida, Advantest President and CEO in the same news release. Yoshida continued to add: “We are proud to partner with ST on this venture, which enables them to achieve their operational goals of employing ARVs and overhead transport to strategically improve their test-floor efficiencies. Advantest’s test cell is designed for this purpose, with our M4841 handler delivering an abundance of unique intelligent features that give customers a significant advantage in an evolving semiconductor supply chain.