Prototyping a new circuit design requires several iterations to arrive at the perfect solution. This iterative process is essential to ensure that design is flawless before moving to the production phase. IC sockets play a vital role in semiconductor testing and prototyping by allowing you to insert and remove ICs from a circuit board without soldering them in place. This makes it easy to swap out ICs and test different configurations of the circuit.
Using IC sockets allows you to insert and remove ICs from a circuit board – without having to solder them in place. This makes it easy to swap out ICs and test different configurations of the circuit.
Let’s look at the steps to prototype any new circuit design. The relevance of IC sockets then become apparent:
Step 1: Create a schematic of your circuit.
Step 2: Choose appropriate IC sockets for your needs. Ironwood Electronics offers a wide range of IC sockets to choose from, including:
Standard IC sockets: Standard IC sockets are available for a wide range of IC package sizes and shapes.
High-pin count IC sockets: High-pin count IC sockets are available for ICs with up to 1,000 pins and pitches of 0.5mm or larger.
Fine pitch IC sockets: Fine pitch IC sockets are available for ICs with pitches of 0.3mm or less.
Custom IC sockets: Ironwood Electronics also specializes in designing and manufacturing custom IC sockets to meet the unique needs of our customers.
Step 3: Assemble your prototype by fixing the IC sockets to the circuit board. Now, insert the ICs into the sockets.
Step 4: Test your circuit. After powering up your circuit, use a multimeter to measure the voltage and current at various points in the circuit.
Step 5: If you need to make changes to your circuit, simply remove the ICs from the sockets and make the necessary changes.
Step 6: After you are satisfied with the operation of your circuit, you can solder the ICs in place.
How to choose your IC Socket
Now that we know it’s significance, it’s important for us to consider the following factors before buying an IC socket:
Bandwidth: Because the IC has to perform certain functions at specific speed, the signal loss has to be minimal. But a socket interface introduces losses in the signal loop – to compensate the socket has to have sufficient bandwidth to pass signals without insertion/return losses, or the socket specifics have to be de-embedded in the functional verification. Since it is very complex to de-embed specific parameters, a safer solution is to find a socket with higher bandwidth.
DC series resistance: Look for a socket technology that can provide low and consistent contact resistance to avoid false failures.
Current carrying capability: This is dictated by your application. An image sensor may require a low current whereas a power management device may require higher.
Contact technology compliance: The devices have wide coplanarity, the contact technology should accommodate the flatness variations.
Temperature requirement: Various socket contact technologies include embedded wire-on elastomers, plated flex circuit capped elastomers, diamond particle interconnects, silver particle matrix elastomer, stamped contacts, spring contacts, hybrid contacts and other variations. Also socket features such as small footprint, easy chip replacement, easy mounting methodology, moving socket from board-to-board,and low cost are a must for this market.
Benefits of using IC Sockets:
Convenience: IC sockets allow you to easily insert and remove ICs from a circuit board – this helps you test different designs or troubleshoot problems.
Protection: When you are prototyping, you may make mistakes that could damage your ICs. IC sockets can help to protect your ICs from these mistakes.
Flexibility: You can use different types of ICs in your prototype, and you can also easily swap out ICs for different versions of the same IC.
USP of Ironwood Electronics
The primary benefit of custom sockets are that they are designed to support high pin counts and fine pitches.
Standard IC sockets are typically limited to supporting ICs with up to 1,000 pins and pitches of 0.5mm or larger. However, with Ironwood Electronics that’s not the case.
Here are a few examples of how Ironwood Electronics has helped our customers with their custom IC socket needs:
Case Study 1: A customer needed a custom IC socket for a new high-performance computing processor. The processor had a unique package shape and size, and it also had a high pin count and fine pitch. Ironwood Electronics designed and manufactured a custom IC socket that met all of the customer’s requirements.
Case Study 2: A customer needed a custom IC socket for a new medical device. The IC socket needed to be small and lightweight, and it also needed to meet high electrical and thermal performance requirements. Ironwood Electronics designed and manufactured a custom IC socket that met all of the customer’s requirements.
Case Study 3: A customer needed a custom IC socket for a new military application. The IC socket needed to be rugged and reliable, and it also needed to meet stringent electrical and thermal performance requirements. Ironwood Electronics designed and manufactured a custom IC socket that met all of the customer’s requirements.