ATE is widely used in the electronic manufacturing industry to test electronic components and systems after being fabricated. ATE is also used to test avionics and the electronic modules in automobiles. It is used in military applications like radar and wireless communication.
ATE in the semiconductor industry
Semiconductor ATE, named for testing semiconductor devices, can test a wide range of electronic devices and systems, from simple components (resistors, capacitors, and inductors) to integrated circuits (ICs), printed circuit boards (PCBs), and complex, completely assembled electronic systems. ATE systems are designed to reduce the amount of test time needed to verify that a particular device works or to quickly find its faults before the part has a chance to be used in a final consumer product. To reduce manufacturing costs and improve yield, semiconductor devices should be tested after being fabricated to prevent defective devices ending up with the consumer.
Components of ATE
The Semiconductor ATE architecture consists of master controller (usually a computer) that synchronizes one or more source and capture instruments (listed below). Historically, custom-designed controllers or relays were used by ATE systems. The Device Under Test (DUT) is physically connected to the ATE by another robotic machine called a Handler or Prober and through a customized Interface Test Adapter (ITA) or "fixture" that adapts the ATE's resources to the DUT.
The Industrial PC is nothing but a normal desktop computer packaged in 19-inch rack standards with sufficient PCI / PCIe slots for accommodating the Signal stimulator/sensing cards. This takes up the role of a controller in the ATE. Development of test applications and result storage is managed in this PC. Most modern semiconductor ATEs include multiple computer controlled instruments to source or measure a wide range of parameters. The instruments may include Device Power Supplies (DPS), Parametric Measurement Units (PMU), Arbitrary Waveform Generators (AWG), Digitizers, Digital IOs, and utility supplies. The instruments perform different measurements on the DUT, and the instruments are synchronized so that they source and measure waveforms at the proper times. Based on the requirement of response-time, real-time systems are also considered for stimulation and signal capturing.
The Mass interconnect is a connector interface between test instruments (PXI, VXI, LXI, GPIB, SCXI, & PCI) and devices/units under test (D/UUT). This section acts as a nodal point for signals going in/out between ATE and D/UUT.