How joint qualification of new memory devices helps to improve system quality, as well as chip quality

October 21, 2016 // By Marcel Kuba
Engineers in the automotive industry are subject to conflicting pressures. On the one hand, they are always looking for new products and technologies that will help to solve the pressing design problems that they face.

For a supplier of high-performance memory devices such as Cypress Semiconductor, this should mean that the obvious path to success is to introduce new technologies which offer higher data throughput and a faster boot time, or which satisfy system manufacturers’ demands for improved electrical specifications and timings.

On the other hand, it is also the duty of automotive design engineers to strive for perfect quality and a zero defect rate. This tends to give rise to a conservative instinct when faced with new technology. In fact, the automotive customer’s typical reaction, on being presented with a new product, is to ask: ‘Do you have experience with this technology? How does it perform in the field? How many parts have been shipped already?’

It can be a dispiriting moment when the semiconductor applications engineer has to tell his or her customer, ‘You would be the first to use it.’

Experience at Cypress Semiconductor, however, suggests that there is a highly effective way for automotive manufacturers to mitigate the risk of using a new semiconductor product, and to take advantage more quickly of the opportunities that technology presents to improve their products’ performance. Joint qualification (JQ) is a set of processes that enable a semiconductor supplier and an automotive customer to collaborate on in-application product qualification for mutual benefit. This article describes the benefits and outlines the main elements of the process.

 

Worthwhile return on time and effort

The essential difference between JQ and the ordinary product qualification process that semiconductor manufacturers normally implement is that, in JQ, the customer assembles a sample part in a real platform, which then undergoes testing by both the customer and the silicon supplier. For Cypress and its customer, the goal will be to validate not only a qualified memory, but also a complete qualified system.

By contrast, the conventional semiconductor qualification process produces a verified set of quality specifications measured against standard industry parameters and parameters set by the silicon supplier. But the specific application in which a customer intends to use the part could stress the part, or give rise to impaired performance, in ways that are not revealed by the standard qualification process and test platform.

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