DC Parametric Semiconductor Validation: Software Components

Publish Date: Jun 23, 2010 | 0 Ratings | 0.00 out of 5 | Print

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

1. Overview

This document will discuss the software components of a DC Parametric Semiconductor Validation test system created in PXI. To learn more about the hardware components, click here. To return to the DC Parametric Semiconductor Validation Reference Architecture main page, click here.

Introduction to Software Components

In this reference architecture, the DC parameters of a CMOS chip (such as voltage thresholds, input leakage currents, and power consumption characteristics) will be tested using two software packages: NI LabVIEW and NI Switch Executive. LabVIEW is used as the primary Application Development Environment (ADE) while Switch Executive is used to configure routes on the high-density matrix.



NI LabVIEW 8.5 Graphical Application Development Environment
Switch Executive 3.0 Switch Management Software

 Table 1: Required software components for DC Parametric Semiconductor Validation in PXI


LabVIEW is a graphical development language that helps engineers and scientists create flexible, scalable test applications rapidly and at minimal cost. LabVIEW uses a graphical development paradigm instead of relying on text based programming as implemented by other programming languages such as Visual Basic, C++ and C#. The LabVIEW graphical dataflow language and block diagram approach naturally represent the flow of your data and intuitively map user interface controls to your data, so you can easily view and modify your data or control inputs. NI DC-Power (SMU driver software) and Switch Executive have intuitive APIs for LabVIEW. These APIs offer high-level programming tools (e.g. NI-DCPower Express VI) for quick deployment of hardware as well as low-level functions for greater control.










Figure 1: NI-DCPower and NI Switch Executive APIs for LabVIEW

The presentation and reporting features of LabVIEW make it especially suited for software development in test applications such as semiconductor validation. LabVIEW contains multiple graphs, charts, meters, knobs, and switches both in 2D and 3D in order to facilitate the representation of measurement data graphically. The ADE also includes the LabVIEW Report Generation Toolkit, which facilitates the creation of reports in MS Word and Excel format. In this DC Parametric Semiconductor Validation test system, LabVIEWs power graphical user interface is used to develop an intuitive front panel (see Figure 1). The upper block of this front panel is used to configure the high-speed digital board, SMU and switch while the lower block represents test results in a graphical manner.

Figure 2: Front panel of the DC Parametric Semiconductor Validation test system created in LabVIEW

NI Switch Executive

Testing the DC parametrics of a CMOS chip requires the ability to connect to hundreds of test points. This is done by configuring the switch matrix in to different states. NI Switch Executive is an intelligent switch management and routing application that makes this complex task, simple. With Switch Executive, you gain increased development productivity by interactively configuring and naming switch modules, external connections, and signal routes. You also increase test code reuse and system performance with switch programming in conjunction with test executive software such as National Instruments TestStand, LabVIEW, LabWindows/CVI, and Measurement Studio. Ultimately, Switch Executive accelerates development and simplifies maintenance of your switch system and therefore reduces costs in ATE switching systems.

The switch hardware in this DC Parametric Semiconductor Validation test system is deployed using Switch Executive in two steps. First, a Switch Executive “virtual device” is created. Next, this device is deployed using the Switch Executive API in LabVIEW. To learn more about NI Switch Executive, watch this 6-minute video

If you are familiar with performing data acquisition measurements using Measurement & Automation Explorer (MAX), creating virtual devices is similar to creating virtual channels. Using the graphical configuration utility, you can then configure your switch hardware by creating channel alias names and  routes. The alias feature of NI Switch Executive  greatly simplifies the management of hundreds or thousands of switch channels in large switch systems because you can refer to a channel as "SMU" or "Pin_0" instead of "c0" or "c2".

Figure 3: Graphical configuration of switch hardware in Switch Executive

Once configured, you can programmatically deploy the Switch Executive ‘Virtual Device’ using the Switch Executive API in LabVIEW.


Figure 5: Deploying an Switch Executive ‘Virtual Device’ in LabVIEW

This page describes the software components required to build an DC Parametric Semiconductor Validation test system in PXI. To learn more about this system’s hardware and software architecture and download example code, view the ‘DC Parametric Semiconductor Validation Testing: Technical Details’ page accessible from the 'DC Parametric Semiconductor Validation Semiconductor Test Reference Architecture'.


  1. DC Parametric Semiconductor Validation Semiconductor Test Reference Architecture
  2. DC Parametric Semiconductor Validation Testing: Hardware Components
  3. Open and Short Circuit Test
  4. Power Consumption Tests (IDD, IDDQ)
  5. Input Voltage Threshold Test (VIL, VIH)
  6. Input Leakage Test (IIL, IIH)
  7. Output Voltage Level Test (VOL, VOH)
  8. Output Short Circuit Test (IOS)
  9. NI PXI-4130: Power Source Measure Unit for PXI
  10. NI PXI-2535: 544-Crosspoint FET Matrix Switch


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