The consumer product industry has been thriving for the past two decades and particularly achieved a huge growth rate after the announcement of smartphones. There are more than billions of IC chips embedded within these devices, including but not limited to, digital cameras, gaming consoles, smartphones, and so forth, creating huge revenue for semiconductor-related companies or manufacturers. By arranging the testing procedure on these IC chips, it is expected that these IC chips which passed the test can perform as intended.
Every single IC chip embedded in user’s devices has undergone several crucial production stages, including design, manufacturing, packaging, testing, and assembly. Testing is the last stage of the production line before assembly and is meant to ensure the functionality and interconnection integrity of IC chips are intact and operational, thus it requires specially designed test socket to achieve the testing function.
IC chip isn’t in chip form from the beginning, instead, it’s in wafer form during the stages before testing. The whole process is pretty complicated and requires lots of fabrication processes in between. In short, after finishing the manufacturing stage in foundry houses, these processed wafers are sent to packaging houses to do IC packaging. Different packaging methods can be selected based on the final application of the IC chips, and these diverse packaging methods will directly impact the type of testing sockets required. Before testing, IC chips are separated from wafer form and protected in encapsulating material with only pins exposed, ready for further assembly onto consumer products or motherboard. By arranging the testing procedure before assembly, it can ensure the operational or functional IC chips to continue on assembly and problematic IC chips to be discarded before assembly.
These test sockets used in testing are manufactured to meet the desirable packaging parameters. Since IC chips at this moment is encapsulated and with only pins exposed, these packaging parameters, including packaging type, packaging thickness, dimension, number of pins, pin type, pitch (the distance between each pin), were delivered to test socket manufacturer like TTS Group to design suitable test sockets for testing. Sometimes a test socket prototype is developed first to do a few testing trials before going into mass production. No matter how many types of test sockets are, the goal is the same, to transmit electrical signals from the IC chips to make sure it’s operational. Sometimes, there are testing sockets-specific issues, like socket tolerance, socket contact interconnection open/short, and so forth, need to be resolved in order for the smooth testing procedure. Communication and cooperation between packaging houses and testing companies are always crucial as test socket designs need to follow any packaging parameter changes made from the packaging house.
Every IC needs to be electrically tested to ensure its functionality, thus well-performed and lasting test sockets from the trustworthy company are crucial to not only increase the efficiency of the overall testing procedure but also capable of maximizing the lifetime of socket usage while preventing particular testing issues from happening during testing. The last thing we want is some potentially good IC chips to be successfully manufactured and packaged but eventually damaged during the testing process because of the poor design of test sockets.