Altera uses state-of-the-art equipment for failure analysis. Depending on the type of failure reported, Altera can perform various tests to resolve the issues, including: full functional and timing tests; C-mode scanning acoustic microscopy (CSAM); scanning electron microscopy; emission microscopy; x-ray, and liquid crystal testing.
The CSAM test is a nondestructive check for device delamination (shown in Figure 1). Improper solder reflow techniques or improper handling of moisture-sensitive devices can cause delamination, which is separation of the die from the molding compound. More information is available in AN 81: Reflow Soldering Guidelines for SurfaceMount Devices (PDF).
Emission microscopy (shown in Figure 1) can isolate the failure's specific location. This test loads the device with test vectors to verify all the device's routing paths. An emission microscope can detect excessive current and pinpoint damaged circuitry. Figure 2 shows the results of an emission microscope test; high current leakage is normally shown in red, but here the location is shown with arrows.
Altera can also use a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to analyze a device. In Figure 3, the SEM test found spiking under metal caused by electrical overstress.