Semiconductor Sockets – A Guide‍ to IC Test Sockets

Semiconductor Sockets – A Guide‍ to IC Test Sockets

Semiconductor sockets primarily referred to as IC sockets or test sockets are interfaces used to test the effectiveness of the components fabricated throughout the semiconductor manufacturing process. This blog post takes a look at what semiconductor sockets are, how they work, the different types of sockets, and much more. Stay tuned to learn more. 

What Are Semiconductor Sockets?

What Are Semiconductor Sockets | INQUIVIX TECHNOLOGIES

The term is used to describe test sockets, which are mechanical electronic interfaces customized to test the functionality of the chip associated with the integrated circuit. These test sockets are used in automatic test equipment (ATE) systems which is the actual tester, while the test sockets simply facilitate the testing, by carrying out signal responses from the chip to the ATE, to show how effectively it can perform in real-life applications.

To elaborate further, semiconductor development has two vital processes that require the most amount of testing. The first is the wafer test, while the second is where the diced chips are tested in the final stage while assembling before transporting the final products after complete semiconductor fabrication. These devices used in the final performance tests to test the effectiveness of the final diced chips are known as IC sockets or test sockets.  

How Do Semiconductor Sockets Work?

The most important factor is that the semiconductor test socket must be designed for the solutions the final device is going to facilitate. The test socket itself must be developed according to the right measurement that is suitable for the system and chip that it aims to connect for testing. 

The test socket must not react or be affected by temperature and other factors, while also ensuring low resistance, high durability for multiple rounds of testing, low contamination capabilities for the chips, and many other criteria to make sure the responses recorded are not hindered by the characteristics of the test sockets. The design of a test socket is made with extreme accuracy to match a chip’s specifications in terms of electrical and mechanical characteristics, while also being able to be simulated. 

Once these criteria are met, the socket is mounted into a load board that connects it to the ATE. A handler will hold the devices that need to be analyzed and a plunger or vacuum will pull and attach them to the test sockets while the ATE runs its tests, and return them to the handler once completed. The systems will simulate real-life scenarios that a chip will undergo according to the application it is created for. Its performance and accuracy will be tested, while tests will also focus on printed circuit boards and device packaging as they are vital contributors to the last stages of the performance socket system. 

The simulations will generate responses from the chip, which will be shown and recorded in the ATE system to ensure that the final product is stable before it is ready to hit the market. In the case it is not, the device will undergo an appropriate search to figure out the erroneous area, and conduct the relevant procedure to eliminate the error or discard the component altogether.  

The Different Types Of IC Sockets In the Semiconductor Industry

The IC sockets can be broken down into two main categories based on their functionalities and characteristics. The test sockets aid in performance-checking within a lab, to ensure effectiveness outside of it. We have explored them in detail below.

Burn-In Sockets


These sockets are used to test for reliability, as well as how long-lasting the device will be. Burn-in sockets conduct testing for semiconductor devices in high temperatures to ensure smooth working despite being subjection to high-stress conditions.  

Test Sockets


These are used to test the electrical properties of the device. The test socket must be undeterred by the conduction that it analyzes with a low generation of contaminating particles while assuring minimal electromagnetic interference on the signal path to the ATE. Test sockets evaluate the efficiency of the semiconductive capabilities under varying conditions.

The Components Of A Semiconductor Test Socket

The Components of a Semiconductor Test Socket | INQUIVIX TECHNOLOGIES

Test sockets are made up of three primary components, while others are added depending on the device they intend to test.

Socket Body/Cartridge


This is made of plastic or metal and has accurate holdings or cavities in place for the device to be tested. The materials to develop the socket body must be able to withstand high-stress conditions without disfiguring or emitting particles that may hinder the testing results. 

Spring Probes And Pins


A spring probe and pin are used to set the path for electrical conductivity from the chip to the ATE. These components must be designed and placed in a way that they maintain optimal conditions of capacitance, inductance, and other vital factors. Fine pitch affects capacitance which can alter the result of the test. Spring probes and pins must be placed and designed to minimize similar impacts that will influence the final result.  

Mechanical Components

Lids, retainer plates, and frames are just a few of the mechanical components used to ensure a sturdy interface according to the device and its design. One or more of them can be used according to the requirement of the test socket.    


What Is A Reliability Test For A Semiconductor?

Semiconductor devices like integrated circuits are put through reliability testing which involves subjecting the device to various extremes of voltages, temperatures, and humidities to find the points of failure.

What Are The Properties Of Semiconductors?

The main three properties of semiconductors are as follows.

  1. Semiconductors have a resistivity that is between that of an insulator and a conductor.
  2. They also show a negative temperature coefficient of resistance. This means that their resistivity decreases as the temperature increases.
  3. At absolute zero, semiconductors behave as insulators.

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