Embedded instrumentation set for takeoff

Test may be poised to make another transition, moving to a technique called embedded instrumentation. It’s being touted as a way to overcome the challenges of reaching hidden contacts, and probing circuits that run above 5 Gbits/second adds capacitance that can impact performance.

Embedded instrumentation is an extension of boundary scan and built-in self test, in which more testing happens within silicon. Non-intrusive testing that’s handled by the silicon on a board has become more feasible, and more necessary, as line geometries on ICs get finer.

“None of this could have happened at 135 nanometers,” said Glenn Woppman, president and CEO of Asset InterTech. “As we’ve moved down to 60 nm and below, it takes less and less of the chip real estate to address embedded instrumentation. Semiconductor suppliers are finding it more compelling.”

Frost & Sullivan agrees. “This has to happen,” Sujan Sami, industry manager for measurement and instrumentation, said in a recent Webinar.

Woppman and Sami predict that embedded instrumentation will loosely follow the path of virtual instrumentation, the PC-oriented approach driven in large part by National Instruments. It started slowly and never saw hockey-stick growth, but the concept saw steady double-digit growth as it became a mainstay in the testing world.

Many chipmakers are still offering extensive capabilities on limited number of chips, but embedded instrumentation may start impacting EMS providers sooner than some might expect. “I think there will be some early adoptions that get to EMS companies soon, some of them this year. Intel’s IBIST (Intel Interconnect Built-In Self Test) is going into broader manufacturing this year,” Woppman said.

For more information on trends in test technology, come to the free Test & Inspection Summit moderated by Test & Measurement World at IPC APEX EXPO conference and exhibition on April 6. There’s no charge for pre-registered attendees. The Summit will be on the show floor for maximum interchange with exhibitors and peers.

2 Comments

  1. Posted May 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Are there any standard embedded instruments or embedded modules available off the shelf?

  2. Posted June 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Hello Aniket: I haven’t been able to find anyone here who knows much more about this topic, Aniket. I’m sorry. You may want to try http://www.ieee.org.

    Kim S


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