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Anatomy of ATE PCB Assembly

An automatic test equipment (ATE) PCB (a.k.a. a test board) is at the heart of all major test activities targeted at verifying a specific semiconductor chip’s functionality.

Semiconductor chip technology has become so advanced that testing these highly complex devices must be performed effectively to ensure high reliability and functionality. This allows chipmakers to convey to their OEM customers their highest confidences that their products are of the foremost quality and have been verified to operate according to their specifications.

An automatic test equipment printed circuit board, or ATE PCB — serving as an interface to a large test system — is at the heart of all major test activities to verify a specific chip’s functionality.

This assures chipmakers their semiconductor products are good-to-go to an ever- burgeoning chip market led by newcomers, such as Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, handheld devices, and other similar products.

ATE PCBs are designed and assembled to test an array of different semiconductor chips, including microprocessors (µPs), memory, system-on-a-chip (SoC), field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and others. However, an ATE PCB is designed and assembled specifically to test one particular kind of chip set. Some of today’s highly advanced chips bring tens of millions of dollars into a chipmaker’s coffers.

In order to achieve that highly-prized chip-testing quality for chipmakers, a group of experienced program and project managers and highly-trained and savvy engineering personnel in ATE PCB assembly are of paramount importance. The requirements for disciplined administration management and assembly line technical knowhow are above and beyond that required for conventional PCB assembly. Considerable monetary loss and lost time-to-market are incurred if there’s a misstep along the way toward successful assembly completion of an ATE PCB.

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