Semiconductor industry forms alliance for testing | Automation.com

Semiconductor industry forms alliance for testing

October 28, 2008 - Leaders from the semiconductor and test community have formed a new organization to foster pre-competitive collaboration and standards development to improve semiconductor industry productivity. To emphasize the nature of this organization, it has chosen the name, "Collaborative Alliance for Semiconductor Test" (CAST).

CAST seeks broad participation within the industry to engage in and resolve common industry issues that will ultimately lead to higher equipment utilization, easier line balancing and greater return on investment for equipment users, and lower redundant R&D costs in non-differentiating product areas for test equipment providers. Supporters represented in the new organization include a range of semiconductor industry leaders from automated test equipment (ATE) companies, integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) and outsourced semiconductor assembly and test (OSAT) companies.

"Our goal is to collaborate across company boundaries in critical areas of concern while retaining free and full competition," said Debbora Ahlgren, vice president and chief marketing officer of Verigy, and co-chair of the CAST planning group. "Our intent is to formalize the organization within one of the existing associations serving the industry in the very near term."

R. Keith Lee, Advantest America's president and CEO, sees the formation of this alliance as a "natural outgrowth of collaborative efforts that have taken place within the industry over the past several years," and is "excited for Advantest to again play such a central role in the formation of an industry partnership that promises to benefit the entire semiconductor ecosystem."

"This new consortium provides the opportunity for LTX-Credence to continue to drive key initiatives that improve the productivity of the complete test process," said Steve Wigley, vice president of marketing at LTX-Credence. "We see CAST as the necessary next step to advance pre-competitive, collaborative initiatives that address the future test challenges of the semiconductor test industry, for the benefit of both customers and suppliers."

Rod Stewart, general manager for the SOC Business Group at Teradyne, added, "Teradyne is pleased to support the CAST initiative, since it has the potential to provide real benefit to the industry overall, including both consumers and producers of test equipment. The framework that is being put in place not only provides tangible benefits in terms of efficiency, but also includes a business model that will ensure continued innovation and customer choice of commercial ATE."

"The formation of CAST is a significant and a natural next step in the evolution of the semiconductor test industry. CAST's charter combined with broad industry participation presents a unique opportunity to collaborate on standards and define clear and achievable goals that will benefit the entire industry," added Don Edenfeld, Intel, and CAST planning group co-chair.

CAST's objectives include:
1. Foster pre-competitive collaboration, with emphasis on manufacturing process cost, efficiency and yield, beginning with wafer test and ending with shipment to the customer. This includes eliminating barriers to participation, enabling a broad membership and providing a level playing field inclusive of all semiconductor industry participants.
2. Research, develop and promote standards that enable industry productivity improvement, specifically to enable efficient and effective interoperability in an environment that encourages fast development, deployment and usage of specifications and standards.
3. Define and measure benchmark criteria for quantifying end-user process efficiency and effectiveness, and identify opportunities to improve that efficiency via collaborative efforts.
4. Act as a representative and an advocate for the members, with a focus on fostering a better understanding of their strategic value to the semiconductor industry.

Charter CAST supporters include (alphabetically): Advantest, Amkor, Infineon, Intel, LTX-Credence, Qualcomm, Roos Instruments, Teradyne, and Verigy.

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