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Jul 12th, 2012
 
Microprobe charts technology milestone with breakthrough benefits for consumer mobile chipmakers
 
Company demonstrates 90µm pitch full-grid array probe cards with >1 amp-per-probe current carrying capability.
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At the SEMICON West tradeshow and conference in San Francisco, MicroProbe announced a technology breakthrough that promises substantial enabling advantages for makers of consumer mobile integrated circuits (ICs).  The world’s top provider of advanced SoC [Systems-on-Chip] probe cards said that its VxTM vertical MEMS product now provides a Current-Carrying Capability (CCC) of >1 Amp per probe in 90µm pitch full-grid array configurations.  The enhanced CCC makes the probe card more robust to transient high current events–a benefit that drives higher wafer test cell uptime and better overall wafer test efficiency.  The CCC breakthrough enables customers to shrink their IC probe pitches well below today’s 130-150µm standard—without compromising production efficiency.

The enhanced CCC capability solves a problem commonly seen in aggressive SoC test regimes.  Here, the actual transient current flowing through a single probe often exceeds the steady state average current expected from a given IC design.  This imbalance can cause that single probe to burn, forcing a test cell shut-down for probe card maintenance to replace the burnt probe(s).  As probe pitches follow Moore’s Law-like trajectories and relentlessly shrink below 90µm, the CCC challenges only intensify due to the smaller available probe cross section.

MicroProbe’s VxTM products address today’s SoC probe challenges in several important ways:

High-precision MEMS-based probes enable the necessary pitch shrinks to achieve sub-90µm grid arrays.
A composite (multi-material) probe structure that allows for independent optimization of probe metallurgy choices for both electrical and mechanical characteristics.  This enables ultra-low-contact resistance during probing which enhances wafer test yield, especially in emerging IC packaging materials like copper pillars and SnAg bumps.

A heterogeneous array option that allows for mixed probe choices to test different parts of the chip.  For example, by using a probe configuration with a higher current rating for the power-delivery pins, burn risk is reduced and protection improved.

Commenting on the high-current breakthrough, MicroProbe’s CTO, January Kister said, “Our continued focus on the specialized technology challenges of advanced SoC probing has allowed us to meet and even exceed the critical requirements for sub-90µm pitch grid-array applications.  We are very pleased to be able to provide solutions for the most demanding challenges in SoC wafer test, enabling sustained cost reductions for our customers and others in the broader mobile consumer supply chain.”

MicroProbe executives will discuss the breakthrough at SEMICON West Test Vision 2020.  The event will be held tomorrow and Thursday at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel.

To view a presentation on MicroProbe’s CCC-enhanced probe cards, please visit:

http://www.microprobe.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/S03_01_Kister_Rev1_5-29-2011_Final.pdf

For an in-depth look at wafer probe parameters for Current Carrying Capability in semiconductor test, please visit: http://www.microprobe.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/110620-1046e-Eprint.pdf

About MicroProbe
MicroProbe provides advanced wafer test solutions to global semiconductor manufacturers. The company’s probe card technologies and products lower the overall cost of test by delivering higher yield and throughput, and better quality die. Headquartered in California, MicroProbe maintains a network of manufacturing, sales and support operations worldwide. The company is privately held with investors that include Flywheel Ventures, Intel Capital and Gemini Investors. For more information about MicroProbe, please visit the company website at www.microprobe.com.


 
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