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Quality and Reliability

Analysis capabilities

Functional analysis of products such as microprocessors and chipsets is a key element of Intel's quality management system. During technology development, product development, and for customer support, the goal of functional analysis is to provide root cause information in a timely manner. This is enabled through the use of highly advanced analytical capabilities that are located in a network of twelve product functional analysis laboratories and customer support centers. The labs are geographically dispersed throughout the US, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, and Asia regions.

Worldwide locations of product functional analysis labs

Worldwide locations of product functional analysis labs


Product functional analysis

Based upon the product behavior and complexity of the analysis required, the functional analysis labs may use all or parts of the following capabilities:

  • Electrical testing
    The purpose of electrical testing is to exercise the electronic device and to capture functional and parametric information. First, testing is done on a platform that simulates the customer use environment and is referred to as PC platform validation (PPV). This is followed by testing on automated production testers (ATE for automated test equipment) under quality assurance conditions. If the testing concludes with deviations from specifications, the analysis proceeds with fault isolation (FI).
  • Parametric fault isolation
    The objective of parametric FI is to localize the source of leakage, open/shorts, or voltage level spec deviations. A Semiconductor Parametric Analyzer (SPA) is commonly used to capture I/V characteristics of inputs, outputs, or the power grids. In conjunction with non-destructive testing techniques, the first goal is to determine whether the source of the issue is on the silicon die or the package. If necessary, the analysis is complemented with photon emission and electrical probing analysis.
  • Non-destructive testing
    The advantage of these techniques is that they provide information without physical destruction of the electronic device. The five major techniques used are: X-ray, scanning acoustic microscopy (SAM), scanning quantum interference device (SQUID), time domain reflectometry (TDR), and thermal imaging. These tools are used early in the functional analysis flow often in conjunction with parametric FI.
  • Logic fault isolation
    The goal of logic FI is to identify the circuitry on the silicon that explains a functional non-conformality of the electronic device. It involves iterative steps of collecting data on a specialized FI tester and simulating the results using design tools. Special design for testability (DFT) features can be activated, and photon emission and electrical probing are used to find a region of interest that conclusively correlates to the functional misbehavior.
  • Photon emission and probing analysis
    The physical principle of these tools is based on either analyzing light emitted during transistor switching or using light or heat to affect the state of transistors or metal lines. The four major techniques used today are infrared emission microscopy (IREM), laser voltage probing (LVP), time-resolved emission probing (TRE), and laser-assisted device alteration (LADA). For functional analysis these tools are docked to a FI tester such that a device can be electrically "powered up" while simultaneously monitored using one of the four methods noted above. In addition, IREM and LADA can be used in various modes as standalone tools for parametric FI.
  • Electrical probing analysis
    Electrical probing is used to characterize the parametrics of components such as transistors, diodes, capacitors, and resistors. Depending on the size and geometry involved, electrical probing is done through micro-probing, pico-probing, or atomic force probing (AFP). In addition, scanning capacitance microscopy (SCM) is used to create charge contrast maps of cross-sections to analyze distributions of implants in the silicon-based integrated circuit.
  • Physical and composition analysis
    Physical analysis in form of de-packaging, de-layering, and cross-sectioning combined with optical and electron beam based analysis, such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), are used to identify the physical nature and material composition of defects. During sample preparation, the focused ion beam (FIB) tool is often used for precision cross-sectioning. The FIB is a versatile tool that is also used during electrical probing analysis to edit circuits. The end results of the physical and composition analysis are usually the key components of a customer report, which are used to help identify the root cause source of the device defect.