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Key Design Steps for DUT Areas on ATE PCBs

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.

High-speed automatic test equipment (ATE) printed circuit boards (PCBs) are often called “a different beast” compared to conventional PCBs. This is because a lot of careful design attention goes to the device-under-test (DUT) area of the board. Here, the DUT is characterized by high-speed 30 to 40GHz and beyond ATE PCB traces and trace length matching. Plus, the designer has to contend with curve routing and loop back traces, which can be challenging.

Traditional boards include analog or digital circuitry; in some cases, they feature “mixed-signal” (both analog and digital) circuits. Many of these boards boast high-speed clocks and data pathways, but their signal speeds may or may not be as high as some of the ATE boards, which can touch 40+GHz, in some cases. With these high speeds, there comes a set of special constraints that need to be addressed along with the standard design/layout knowhow.

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