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Ever wondered how they test memory?

by Nick Haywood on 21 November 2007, 13:49

Tags: Geil

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Stuff MemTest, this is the hard-core way!

Dragon 07 Testing thousands of memory chips a day is probably as enjoyable as having root canal work using a garden hoe. So, of course, companies such as GeIL will look for some sort of automated system…except that fully automatic machines drop in at around a cool US$3,000,000 - putting them out of reach of smaller memory-makers.

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But what can you do if you want to up production? It's a Catch 22 situation… you need the machine to be able to test more chips accurately and quickly but have to be shipping in volume to be able to afford the machine. Well, GeIL took another path and just went and designed its own hardware for the job.

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And, doing it that way, cost GeIL around a tenth of the price of a machine bought off the shelf. Better still, what the company got was a machine built to its own specs. Although the tester is currently alone in its room, there will soon be another three joining it - so it looks like GeIL is going to be seriously ramping up production.

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But no machine is perfect and what you can't afford to do is bin a chip just because it's been declared dodgy by some jumped-up automaton. So GeIL double checks and triple checks before discarding any chip as a dud.

The GeIL lab people first use semi-automatic machines. If the chip is still giving erroneous results, they then slot it into a test module and bung that into one of these mainboards. And if THAT doesn't do it, they take it outside and beat the hell out of it with baseball bats… alledgedly.

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HEXUS Forums :: 8 Comments

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“But if a chip fails testing in the automated machine, GeIL will double and triple check it before discarding as a dud. First Geils lab guys will use their semi-automatic machines and then, if the chip is still giving erroneous results, the chip is slotted into a test module and slotted into one of these mainboards”

So…….If a memory module fails 1 test, they keep testing it until they find a test that it can pass?
Hardly a mark of quality :S
I would imagine testing is quite rigid and unforgiving and that closer inspection may be required to verify if what the machine thinks is bad behaviour, is actually perfectly OK.

Of course, it may well be that it ends up on a slower module, where it'll operate fine…
Exactly, only the best of the chips which pass the first test go in the more expensive faster modules.
Yep, that's exactly it.
My guess, and this is important, Geil will then work out which other chips from that batch have the same erroneous error and look at Production and System, to see why it went wrong, and nail the issue.

If I was a major, high spec, well respected memory company, I'd wanna find dud units and test them to the nth degree…..

Nick…that was one of the most interesting, and coolest things I've read for months matey. I love this tech stuff….it's just so interesting and I want MORE!!! :)