Do you design and fabricate custom VLSI chips? Do you find that testing
the chips for functionality can be as much work as designing them? If
so, TestosterICs is for you!
TestosterICs is a low-cost functional chip tester for digital VLSI
chips. High end chip testers with all the bells and whistles sell for
$1M and up. A logic analyzer / signal generator combination
supporting 256 pins may cost $40K. TestosterICs brings the cost of
chip testing down by an order of magnitude while providing a very
straightforward user interface.
A functional chip tester applies digital test vectors to your device
under test at low speed and measures that the expected results are
produced. One application is testing chips fabricated by students in
university classes through services such as MOSIS. Another is testing
research prototypes; such prototypes use the chip tester to scan configuration into the chip at modest data rates, then probe a handful of mixed signal or
high speed I/Os connected to signal generators and oscilloscopes.
TestosterICs tests packages with up to 256 I/Os running at 5v, 3.3v,
or at an externally adjustable voltage in the range of 1.5-6.5v at a
(slow) maximum speed of 240 vectors/sec. It
provides a simple user interface from a host computer over a serial
port so that you can use the same test vectors for hardware
verification that you used during logic simulation.
How It Works
The TestosterICs chip tester comes in three modular units to permit
testing a wide array of packages at any voltage you need.
The TestosterICs BrainBox plugs in to a host PC or Sun workstation
using a standard serial port. It receives digital test vectors from
the host, passes them to the DUT Board over another cable, then
samples the outputs and returns them to the host.
Device Under Test (DUT) Board
The DUT Board holds your chip under test in a ZIF socket. Two
standard DUT boards are available:
DIP socket for DIP packages up to 40 pins
PGA socket for PGA packages with up to a 16x16 array of pins
You can also build your own DUT board to accommodate chips with very
high-speed I/Os or for special applications like thermal testing.
Contact us if you have specific needs.
The DUT Boards also have jumpers to connect logic analyzer probes or
to supply VDD and GND to your chip.
Pin Electronics Adapter
Pin Electronics Adapters drive and sample the DUT pins at the voltage
levels you need. Each adapter controls up to 64 pins, so you need one
adapter to test DIP packages or 4 for 16x16 PGA arrays. Three types
of adapters are available:
Variable voltage (1.5 - 6.5v)
TestosterICs is easy for novices to use, yet allows flexible control
for sophisticated users. You may either apply your test vectors from
the design process using a program called TesterGen or write your own
test scripts using a Java API. The software requires a host computer with a
standard 9-pin serial port. It has been tested on Windows
machines (98, NT, or later), Linux, and Solaris.
Contact us about other platforms.
A student can test a chip fabricated for a class project by simply
dropping it in the ZIF socket and using the TesterGen software to send
the same set of IRSIM test vectors that were used to test the chip
during design. These vectors consist of simple commands to set an
input high or low and assert statements to check that an output
matches its expected value. The inputs and outputs are displayed on a
graphical user interface with any errors highlighted.
TestosterICs Java API
TestosterICs also offers a Java API for advanced users to write test
programs. This permits maximum flexibility in performing conditional
operations during testing.
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