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Brother Can you Paradigm – Jeff Rearick’s Invited Address

Jeff Rearick closed out Wednesday of ITC with an invited talk titled “DFT and Testing vs. Inflection Points and Paradigm Shifts.” He described the concept of a paradigm shift, with some quotes from Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” which I agree everyone should read. The most interesting part of the definition is that a paradigm shift is something you can’t reverse. For instance the disaggregation of the supply chain is one, and once a company goes fabless it doesn’t reverse itself and build a new fab.

I’m sure all were disappointed that he didn’t tell how you can tell if you are in the middle of a shift or just an improvement , or worse, a fad that would soon die out. (, anyone?)  Knowing that could make us all rich. I won’t list his set, but here is one I think he missed.
I think the invention of practical ways of measuring fault coverage was the crucial development in DFT. It is certainly something we can’t retreat from. Once we could measure coverage, we actually found out how good our tests were, not how good we thought they were. Worse (or better) our managers had a number they could handle. And they wanted more. The feedback loop between test creation and test quality assessment went from years to days. Test writers and designers could no longer escape to a new project. No wonder scan caught on – better some overhead than some 12 hour days.
All DFT since has been just extensions of this basic idea: to make your boss happy by making this number he or she can understand higher.

The ITC Election Party

I’ll write about the Plenary and the first few sessions when I recover a bit, but for now let’s talk about the Welcome Reception/Election party, one of the best I’ve been to at ITC and I’ve been to about 30 of them, MSNBC was on TV on  the left of the hall, with blue decorations, Fox News on the right with red decorations. Good food, plenty of wine and beer, and in an outstanding piece of party planning the networks called the election just before the party ended. Our Arrangements Committee refuses to tell me how they pulled this off.

A great day at ITC.

The CEO Panel

Too late to write much about the Monday panel, featuring five CEOs. All these comments are mine alone, and not those of my company, ITC, D&T, or my dog.

Bill Bottoms of 3MTS, taking the VC role, described why the current ATE paradigm is probably not worth investing in, but a totally new paradigm might be (assuming the right people are making the proposal.) What is a good new paradigm? He proposed, among other things, putting more test resources in the chip/package, understanding that die will wear out, so continuously test the part while it runs, allow dynamic self repair (of logic) and allowing for graceful degradation. One wonders why design companies can’t do all of this – and in fact some of it is done already.

Besides this, the panelists gave interesting stories of how they started and how they became successful. One issue was a self-funded start-up vs. a VC funded start-up. One advantage of self funding is that it is easier to pivot (make a 90 degree turn) if you don’t have to answer to someone else. Many of the panelists had to do just that.

There was then an interesting discussion on the role of software in ATE, and how software that is tied to the instrument is valued differently from software that performs an independent function.

Favorite quote from Dan Glotter of OptimalTest “Test is far beyond pass/fail – test is a data gold mine.”


Here is the first of several blogs from ITC.

The weather in Anaheim is sunny and warm, but it is nice and cool in the Disneyland Hotel Convention Center.

Right now the tutorials are going on. The next big event is the Monday CEO panel, 4:30 in the Disneyland Grand Ballroom. I just added some info about it at the  ITC home page at  This is followed by a reception.

As usual, we give out totes and T-shirts. I’d seen the pdfs of our designs already, and now I see them in the actual items. In your ITC tote you get

  • a T-shirt
  • The final program
  • Two yellow sheets for the Passport Program. For the destination passport visit the four sponsors (Mentor, Asset, Aries and Atrenta) get your passport stamped, visit at least one corporate forum, get your passport stamped for that, and drop your form in the booth. The drawing is 4 pm Wednesday. For the general passport, visit at least 25 exhibitors, get your passport stamped, and drop it in the booth. The drawing for that is the same time. You get Disney Dollars as a prize – plenty of places to spend that around here.
  • Information on our supporters Optimal Test, IDI, Cadence and Cisco, and from our media partner Evaluation Engineering.
  • A copy of Design & Test of Computers. The theme of the issue is Smart Silicon, but there is a Last Byte (on the last page) about ITC. But it is not by me, it is by Doug Young, our general chair, and Tim Cheng, our Program Chair. I’m just the editor, but never the final version to proofread.

More from ITC later

The ITC Blog

This is Scott Davidson’s ITC Blog. I’ll be using it to blog about ITC up to this year’s conference November 4 -9 2012 at the Disneyland Hotel, Anaheim California, and then giving some interesting behind the scenes fact on next year’s conference.