Sockets Power Up

Last week, I tried spring skiing in New England. I didn’t know if I’d remember all the necessary techniques. After a bit of weight shifting and knee bending, I discovered that no matter what my upper body did, my nose had to be pointed downhill constantly; otherwise, I’d catch an edge. When I began this renewed experience, my toes curled from an atavistic attempt to grip the slope, my body shifted in jerks, and muscles burned. But after a while, I relaxed instead of fighting the experience. As long as my nose pointed downward in focus, an easy alignment and a relaxed enjoyment took over.

On March 12-15, 2006, we attended Burn-in & Test Socket Workshop (BiTS; in Tempe, AZ. The opportunity to talk to 370 attendees, 53 exhibitors, and keynote speakers all gathered in one location to concentrate on burn-in and test sockets was another nose-forward-type experience.

Just as our magazine addresses all issues having to do with advanced packaging, this focused workshop offered 25 presentations on socketing delivered by authors from user communities. Keynote speaker, John Harris, manager of worldwide test and engineering, IBM Systems and Technology, predicted burn-in challenges ahead. As microprocessors and graphics chips used in high-end gaming systems enter the marketplace, test and burn-in technology limits also push forward. Test and burn-in has changed from a process that sorts good die from bad to being a data feedback and analysis source for wafer fab and design teams. The challenge for the test and burn-in communities is to control costs while meeting new demands.

“Reducing the cost of test and lead-free challenges are the most difficult problems we face at present,” said Mark Murzda, director of Marketing at UMD Advanced Test Technologies, explaining that lead-free materials tend to be harder, more abrasive than those with lead, and have high contact resistance. Murdza was also eager to explain the company’s name change from WELLS-CTI, DB Design, and DCI to UMD Advanced Test Technologies. The merger provides a broader approach, and the company’s focus is now back-end test consumables, offering burn-in sockets, ATE consumables, and thermal management solutions.

Other attendees and exhibitors had plenty to say about sockets. Gordon LaPorte, director of sales and marketing for Qualmax American Inc., discussed lead-free testing, and his company’s ability to do lead-free testing using a “harder” probe. Business is up for Qualmax. 3M offered a couple of new burn-in socket solutions with open-top BGA products, both large and small. Gryphics enthusiastically demonstrated their new Grypper, a near-device-size connector. The contact design uses the same basic structures as their BGA socket with an integration of geometrical solder-ball-gripping contacts.

Industry consolidations, K&S dropping sockets, new products, and the needs of the future were all discussed. Look for more information on sockets in upcoming issues.

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Gail Flower


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