FAQs about ATE ICs

By: Madhura Vitthal Tapse


This application note answers general frequently asked questions (FAQs) about automated test equipment (ATE) ICs. The FAQs also cover topics specific to Maxim’s ATE portfolio, addressing some of the more common issues that arise when using Maxim ATE ICs in new or existing designs. The questions are divided into different categories based on specific information areas such as driver/comparator/load (DCL), parametric measurement unit (PMU), and device power supply (DPS).


This application note answers the most commonly asked questions about Maxim's automatic test equipment (ATE) products. It provides helpful suggestions and hints on various measurements, functionalities, and user settings of these ICs. The application note includes general as well as specific questions about the products.

Driver and Comparator ICs

This section covers commonly asked questions about ATE driver ICs related to performance, evaluation techniques, and various settings.

How do I calculate the maximum supported data rate of an ATE driver IC from the voltage swing?
How do I measure/evaluate the DUT signal? What is the recommended instrument/method?
What is temperature monitoring in ATE ICs?
What is the impedance termination at the DUT_ pin of the MAX9979?
What is the power dissipation per channel in the MAX9979?
What is the driver operation range in the MAX9979?
How do I set the voltage clamps of the driver in the MAX9979?
Will the leakage current on one channel of the MAX9972 be seen on the other driver channels?
Consider an ATE driver IC, such as the MAX9972, with drive current that is more than ±40mA. Which voltage rail supplies the current?
DLV/DHV/DTV (used to set voltage of DUT) or VDD/VSS (power-supply rails)?
The power dissipation for the MAX9972 is a maximum of 1.5W. What is the relationship between the dissipation and DUT current? For example, if the DUT current is 40mA, is the dissipation still 1.5W, or is it higher?

Comparator ICs

Parametric Measurement Unit (PMU) ICs

This section covers commonly asked questions on ATE PMU ICs related to PMU architecture and hardware settings.

What is the difference between a PMU and a PMU switch?
If the VHH, +13V output is not required, then is it necessary to provide +17V VHHP to the MAX9979? Can only PMU functionality be utilized without applying a +17V supply to the VHHP pin?

Device Power Supply (DPS) ICs

This section covers commonly asked questions on ATE DPS ICs related to various hardware settings.

In device power supply ICs, how do I calculate the sense resistor value based on maximum load current?
In the MAX9959, what voltage clamp settings are required to maintain the force-voltage linearity?
In the MAX9959, what are the clamp settings and range-change glitch control?


The speed and resolution of the pin driver and the number of pins supported determine the capability of the automated test equipment. Maxim's ATE ICs were designed primarily for use in semiconductor device test equipment.

Maxim's ATE ICs support variable data rates, suitable for a broad range of ATE applications. The MAX32000 supports a maximum data rate up to 2.5Gbps, making it suitable for DDR2 memory testers, GDDR3, and GDDR4 for ATE applications requiring 2Gbps performance and waveform fidelity control. This application note addresses questions about how to determine the maximum data rate of these ATE ICs.

The low power consumption of these ICs makes them good choice for low-cost, low-power ATE pin electronics for memory, burn-in, and structural automated test equipment. Answers to various questions on power consumption, impedance termination, and driver operation range not only help to select the correct ATE IC for your application, but also to test it in your system.

PMU or PMU switch capability in these ICs allow extension measurement capabilities of test units. Calculating correct sense resistor value in device power-supply ICs facilitates the usage of complete full-scale current range of device power-supply ICs, which are suitable for industrial test and instrumentation applications.

For more details about Maxim's ATE products or any other aspects of using these ICs, contact Maxim's Technical Support team.