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Case History:  One board test platform or two?

An OEM introducing new products that are being built as multi-board panels and will require boundary-scan test and serial in-system programming (ISP) of flash memory devices. The test manager has determined there are two possible approaches to a new test strategy:
  1. Add in new boundary-scan and ISP programming upgrades into the existing Agilent in-circuit tester (Single-stage strategy).
  2. Leave the Agilent ICT “as is” and implement boundary-scan and ISP programming on a separate platformfollowing ICT (Two-stage strategy).
First, the manager evaluated the advantages and disadvantages of upgrading the existing Agilent ICT in order to perform boundary-scan and ISP programming on the same tester already being used for in-circuit test.
More and more options

Single Stage Advantages

  • “One stop” testing & programming reduces board handling and may speed throughput.
  • No need to familiarize test programmers with new platform.

Single Stage Disadvantages

  • Panelized boards and lengthy programming sequence required for the flash chips means each board will be at the Agilent ICT for minutes rather than seconds, creating a severe process bottleneck.
  • Existing Corelis Boundary Scan tests must be translated into Agilent proprietary code and debugged.
  • Costly hardware and software upgrades required on Agilent ICT.

The alternative approach was a two-stage strategy, performing boundary-scan and the serial ISP programming on a second platform immediately following the Agilent system. But to make economic sense a flexible, low-cost platform that would be quick to implement was mandatory.  CheckSum’s Analyst with its low cost hardware and straightforward software and its fit the bill:
Divide the work

Two-Stage Advantages

  • MultiWriter ISP system handles up to 24 boards in parallel, programming at data book speeds.
  • Corelis-based boundary-scan code can be implemented directly without translation and re-debugging.
  • Low-cost hardware and software and its hassle-free ability to add on third party test solutions.

Two-Stage Disadvantages

  • Requires familiarization with a new platform.
  • Must handle boards twice over two platforms.

Low Cost In-Circuit Test System Results

While upgrading the Agilent tester would have been fairly straightforward, the test manager concluded that retrofitting new hardware and software required would be costly in time, effort and dollars.  He chose the Analyst solution.

The complete Analyst boundary-scan and ISP programming solution was in full production in less than three weeks, much faster and at far less cost than estimates for completing the same tasks on the Agilent.

As this OEM discovered, using the flexible, low-cost Analyst platform to add test and ISP programming capacity is far more efficient and cost effective than seeking a comprehensive “does everything” solution on an already complex proprietary system.  In this case, two systems were definitely better than one.

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