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Super-Sockets: Integration of Technology from Test Board into Socket Assembly
Keywords: Test, Test Socket, Super Sockets
IC packages are shrinking. IC frequency requirements are increasing. The pressure to reduce test costs is relentless. The test board manufacturer has been the go to guy when IC Manufacturers have been faced with the need for designing test systems for the next generations of faster, smaller, and less expensive packages. Could the solution lie within another component of the test system? We think so. Let's look at the concept of allowing the test board design to remain static, while incorporating newer technology into the test socket assembly. Now, faster and smaller almost automatically incorporates less expensive. The footprint of the device under test typically dictates the socket design and the relationship of the socket with the test board. For example, a 0.4 mm pitch device means a 0.4 mm pitch foot print of the socket. Is it possible to separate the restraint of matching the device foot print or pitch? Could a 0.3 mm pitch BGA device have a 0.8 mm pitch QFN foot print on the test board? What would be the impact on cost and ability to create standard off-the-shelf boards if design engineers had this latitude? Size restraint may not be the only consideration. Sockets have typically functioned as a passive device. Their purpose has been to transfer bias, signals and temperature. Is it possible for sockets to take a more active role in the total test system? What would be the impact on board design and flexibility if electronic components could be integrated into the socket assembly? Add active circuitry and multi-nest capabilities to that assembly and a new world of capabilities may be unlocked. The test socket industry has been sequestered into an old paradigm of stamped contacts and spring pins. A new paradigm in test socket architecture will enable the IC manufactures on the frontier of technology to finally achieve faster, smaller and less expensive.
Tom Bresnan, Sales Manager
R & D Circuits, Inc.
South Plainfield, NJ

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