Automotive ICs – the key driver of innovation in test

By Tessent Solutions

Industry luminary and IEEE Fellow Janusz Rajski will present a keynote at the IEEE European Test Symposium on 28 May in Bremen, Germany. Rajski, who led the development of embedded test compression and of Cell-Aware test, is a trusted voice in DFT. In this keynote, Rajski turns the topic to automotive ICs. He will discuss available state-of-the-art solutions used by the industry leaders and some ways to address future challenges.

The rapid development of advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous vehicles has grabbed the world’s attention and imagination. While true autonomous driving is still many years off, the promise of incremental advances in driver assistance systems is of immediate concern to the entire automotive supply chain from OEMs to IC designers.

The quick growth in the market for automotive ICs stems from the demand for massive amounts of computing power needed to process the huge volume of data generated by the sensors used in automotive system. These ICs targeted for use in automotive systems bring a new set of requirements to designers. In particular, the very complex safety-critical components present notable challenges regarding the requirements for extremely high quality and long-term reliability.

The performance, quality, and reliability demands of automotive ICs are also fueling notable innovation. In order to meet the performance demands, advanced technology nodes are being adopted at an accelerated rate. Automotive ICs were once comfortably designed at legacy nodes. It is not uncommon for new designs to target the most advanced process nodes. The new process technologies come with new more complex defects and reliability risks.

Rajski will review the test innovations needed to meet the automotive requirements. Including:

  • Meeting the highest IC quality requirements with improved manufacturing test.
  • Satisfying the different modes of in-system test for power-on,  power-off and on-line testing during the lifetime operation of a vehicle.
  • Dealing with defect sensitivities that are unknown at the time of IC manufacturing.
  • Adapting high-performance cores originally designed for other applications for use in automotive safety-critical systems.

High-quality manufacturing test for automotive ICs is facing challenges because of the move to smaller process geometries and larger designs. There are newer methods that are very effective at finding all the defects in a device, whether in the interconnect or inside the transistors. This is an important distinction for devices that use FinFET transistors.  Using this cell-aware test greatly improves defect detection. We’ve seen innovations that improve analog/mixed-signal test as well, particularly in the area of automation around evaluating existing analog tests so you can eliminate those that are not useful and generate new ones that are.

Automotive ICs are expected to work for 20 years in a car. To ensure functional safety throughout their lifetime, they are periodically tested during operation to make sure that they are free of defects. Our knowledge what defects are likely to occur will undoubtedly be refined and will be used to increase functional safety. The semiconductor industry and its EDA partners must be prepared for the continued evolution of standards for quality and functional safety. We can assume that detecting a higher percentage of realistic defects will at some point be mandated.

Many high-performance chips and cores originally designed for consumer products will be used in automotive applications. However, they may not meet the stringent requirements for quality of manufacturing test and functional safety requirements. Without some re-work, these ICs may not achieve high enough coverage of the classical fault models, let alone automotive-grade quality of test. Even more challenging is achieving the required levels of periodic on-line testing when real-time constraints are added. Rajski will discuss how leading IC companies are addressing this challenge.

For more information on testing automotive ICs, download the whitepaper IC Test Solutions for the Automotive Market 

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at