PXI goes semi – shrinking the big iron footprint

20 April 2015

The ever evolving PXI standard continues to expand its capabilities. The PXI Systems Alliance (PXISA) and PXI suppliers are working to ensure that PXI continues to be the preferred test instrumentation standard for most test, measurement, and data acquisition applications.

This includes increased performance and capabilities to allow PXI to better address the current markets it serves and to allow PXI to expand to new markets.

PXI has been providing test instrumentation to the semiconductor industry for nearly a decade but these products have been typically used on the fringes of the semiconductor test market. A market dominated by high-performance “Big Iron” testers, the semiconductor industry has been on a perpetual drive to identify solutions that will reduce the footprint of testers and the Cost of Test (CoT).

High-performance PXI test products that address semiconductor test started to appear in the last few years. These were RF test products and high-performance digital with Per Pin PMU (Parametric Measurement Unit) capabilities. However, PXI digital products lacked edge-placement capabilities and the density needed to reduce both the footprint and the Cost of Test. 2014 saw the introduction of new PXI products and solutions that were specifically designed to address semiconductor test applications. These are new products offer high-performance digital with per pin PMU and 1nanosecond edge-placement. 

With the density offered by some PXI products, customers can now support more than 512 high-performance digital pins in a single 3U chassis. This represents a major improvement in both footprint and CoT that has captured the attention of many semiconductor companies. Further, two PXI suppliers now offer, not only test products, but fully integrated test solutions (i.e. test systems) and these solutions are finding their way to the semiconductor manufacturing floor.

Other than the standard/mainstream semiconductor test solutions, there’s also a growing need test MEMS. The MEMS test market requires high throughput and a high level of parallelism, with testers supporting 64 devices or more. At least one PXI supplier now offers an integrated MEMS tester capable of testing up to 96 devices in a very small footprint, helping MEMS customers further reduce the tester’s footprint and Cost of Test.  

As PXI continues to expand its capabilities and markets, PXI continues to experience a robust annual growth rate of >15% with the overall market size expected to surpass $1.1B USD in 2017 (Frost and Sullivan). Seventeen years after its introduction, PXI not only retains its status as a viable test platform but actually is getting better every year. 

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