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Programming Microcontroller Embedded Flash at ICT

This block diagram shows an In-Circuit Tester with a fixture that is connecting directly to the Unit Under Test. The fixture has no unnecessary hardware.

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This block diagram shows a programming POD and FrameScan hardware installed. The POD is used for In-System programming and the FrameScan is used for a pseudo pin-test because the test engineer did not have the library model to do vector based test. The relays are added to isolate the programming POD from the Unit Under Test and keep stray voltages off of the UUT during shorts test and un-powered analog tests. Does this remind you a little bit of that Mousetrap game you had when you were a kid?

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The data below is a financial comparison between programming a Microcontroller embedded flash using the pin system of the TestStation and the use of FlashRunner installed in the fixture. I do not even take fixture cost into account. This comparison uses the Infineon XC2287 as an example, programming 768KB of flash. The program and verify times for the TestStation are the actual numbers that I have collected from the use of several samples. The program and verify times for Flash Runner are taken from a SofTec document that was presented to me. If SofTec wants to challenge these numbers I will gladly update this page.

I left out the option of full read-back verify from this comparison table. Both methods have this option, it is 10.59 seconds for the TestStation and 40.85 seconds for the FlashRunner.

As you can see, after the numbers are on the table, the cost to program with the TestStation directly is $0.48 cheaper per piece. Now, assume that your total volume until end-of-life were one million pieces. The CM using the FlashRunner would spend $480,000 USD more to produce this product.

In addition to that, the TestStation has provided the CM with a full pin-test of the device. Something that the FlashRunner could not do.

FlashRunner

Pin Test

Not Available

 
Device ID

Not Mentioned

 
Erase Time 0.95 seconds
Blank Check Time 1.30 seconds
Programming Time 40.94 seconds
Checksum Verify Time 9.21 seconds
Total Time 52.4 seconds
Production Cost per piece based on TestStation machine cost of $0.017 per second  $0.89 USD

Test Station

Pin Test 0.64 seconds
Device ID 0.31 seconds
Erase Time 1.02 seconds
Blank Check Time 0.95 seconds
Programming Time 20.39 seconds
Checksum Verify Time 0.80 seconds
Total Time 24.11 seconds
Production Cost per piece based on TestStation machine cost of $0.017 per second  $0.41 USD
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Are you planning to program Microcontroller-Embedded Flash on your ICT?

There is a right and a wrong way to do this. Most ICT Engineers are blinded by the idea that test fixtures need PODs to handle the programming interface of the Microcontroller. This is rather inefficient, this is today's industry standard!

The POD might provide some ease of use and some visibility at first. But it complicates your fixture, it makes it more expensive, and it will slow you down and cost you more when you ramp up your volume. A Teradyne TestStation or a GR228X with a DSM already has the hardware equivalent of a programming POD behind every dozen pins.

My best analogy if this: When Teradyne sold you your TestStation they gave you the ruby slippers. So, why do you go for this balloon ride? The answer I always hear is "Because Teradyne didn't give me software tools to click my heels together".

Talk to me, I will sell you the tools or I will develop them for you.

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