Testing RF Front-End ICs With STS

Publish Date: Feb 13, 2017 | 4 Ratings | 5.00 out of 5 | Print

Overview

The Semiconductor Test System (STS) series features production-ready test systems that combine the NI PXI platform, TestStand test management software, and LabVIEW graphical programming inside a fully enclosed test head. Its “tester-in-a-head” design houses all the key components of a production tester including system controllers; DC, AC, and RF instrumentation; device under test (DUT) interfacing; and device handler/prober docking mechanics.   Download an in-depth white paper that uncovers how a platform-based approach can bridge the gap from characterization to production.

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Table of Contents

  1. Video Demonstration
  2. STS Overview
  3. STS RF Subsystem
  4. STS Software
  5. Interfacing and System Calibration
  6. Next Steps

1. Video Demonstration



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2. STS Overview

The Semiconductor Test System (STS) series features fully production-ready test systems that use NI technology in a form factor suitable for a semiconductor production test environment. The STS combines the NI PXI platform, TestStand test management software, and LabVIEW graphical programming inside a fully enclosed test head. Its “tester in a head” design houses all the key components of a production tester including system controllers; DC, Digital, and RF instrumentation; device under test (DUT) interfacing; and device handler/prober docking mechanics. This compact design eliminates the extra  floor space, power, and maintenance required by traditional ATE testers that unnecessarily increase the cost of test. Additionally, with the open, modular STS design, you can take advantage of the latest industry-standard PXI modules for more instrumentation and computing power.

 

Target Devices
  • RF Power Amplifiers
  • RF Filters
  • RF Switches
  • RF Front-End Modules (FEMs)
Test Coverage
  • EVM
  • IMD/TOI
  • ACPR
  • Spurs and Harmonics
  • S-Parameters
  • Noise Floor
FPGA Capabilities
  • Envelope Tracking (ET)
  • Real Time Digital Pre-distortion
  • Measurement Acceleration



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3. STS RF Subsystem

To lower overall cost of test and shorten time to market for radio frequency integrated circuit (RFIC) manufacturers, STS for RFICs comes with an RF subsystem, which is a configurable multiport RF subsystem built around the NI vector signal transceiver (VST). The VST combines a vector signal generator and vector signal analyzer with FPGA-based real-time signal processing and control. Overall, STS for RFICs offers a fully integrated RF test capability to meet the stringent measurement and scalability requirements for RF production test.

 

Key VST features include:

  • Fast measurement speed and small form factor of a production test box 
  • Flexibility and high-performance of R&D-grade box instruments
  • User-programmable FPGA
  • Industry-leading instantaneous bandwidth

 

The rest of the RF subsystem includes:

  • RF Quad Port Module and optional high-power RF ports with up to +38 dBm TX and +40 dBm receive
  • 26 GHz S-parameter measurements
  • Automatic Multiport RF Calibration Module

 

 

Figure 1. STS T2 Configuration With Integrated Multiport RF Subsystem


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4. STS Software

At the core of STS is TestStand ready-to-run test management software, which is designed to help engineers quickly develop, debug, and deploy test programs. 

 

Key features include:

  • Test Sequence Editor with multisite support
  • Operator interface
  • DUT binning
  • Flexible debugging tools
  • Handler/prober integration
  • Standard Test Data Format (STDF) with database connectivity
  • Pin and channel mapping for DUT-centric test programming
  • Integration with third-part instrumentation

 

Figure 2. The STS operator interface provides a single powerful interface to select, run, and view all key data.

 

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5. Interfacing and System Calibration

Figure 3. The spring probe interface includes Coax, DC, and RF (blind mate). STS comes with system-level calibration to spring probe interfaces (coax and DC) and RF blindmates.

 

Figure 4. The automatic RF Multiport Calibration Module provides efficient in-situ system-level calibration to minimize system downtime. To ensure accurate measurements at DUT, the RF subsystem comes with the capability to de-embed RF paths on the device interface board.

 

RF Subsystem
  • STS T1: Up to 12 RF Ports with one VST
  • STS T2: Up to 24 RF Ports with two VSTs
  • STS T4: Up to 48 RF Ports with four VSTs
DC Source Measure (SMUs)
  • Precision System SMUs (up to 24 channels per system)
  • 4-channel SMUs (up to 96 channels per system)
Digital Instruments
  • 100 MHz Vector Rate
  • Multiple drive formats, timing sets, and op-codes
  • Fully-featured pattern editing and debugging software with history RAM (HRAM), real-time pin view, Shmoo, and more
  • Up to 256 pins per digital sub-system
Optional Instruments

Table 1. Common System Resources for RFIC Testing in STS

 

Figure 5. Example  Configuration of an STS T2 with One VST and 12 RF Ports

 

 

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6. Next Steps

  • Download the white paper to learn how you can bridge the gap from characterization to production with STS
  • For more information on configuring an STS or to speak with a semiconductor expert, email: sts@ni.com
  • Learn more about PXI, the industry-leading modular instrumentation platform

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