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Burn-in is the process of increasing the quality of a product and its components by testing the operation of the components under normal and accelerated environmental conditions prior to service. The testing procedure involved in burn-in helps in that it allows substandard components to fail and be replaced before the device reaches the consumer.
Burn-in testing is not required for all product classes. In order to have any benefit from the testing, the analysts/engineers should be able to collect the failure information to decide if the burn-in is absolutely needed for the product. Effectiveness of burn-in testing is evaluated based on maximum probability of success after the process of burn-in, the maximum mean residual life obtained and other factors. The cost involved in the burn-in process includes the cost of the test, cost of components damaged in testing, cost of failure and the cost of warranty claims.
Burn-in testing strategies are devised based on the objectives of the test, such as the time required for the test to last and which components to focus on. One of the major objectives of burn-in testing is to eliminate failures in the initial high-failure rate portion in the bathtub curve of component reliability of electronic devices. If the components in the electronic devices are able to sustain for long periods during the burn-in conditions, the device can be considered reliable. Any weak parts of the device are expected to fail during the burn-in period, and these parts can be replaced. This in turn helps in proactive prevention of device failures and other latent failures.
There are many advantages associated with the burn-in testing process. Burn-in testing ensures delivered products have higher reliability and that fewer customer returns happen. Burn-in also assists in estimating the useful lifespan of a product.
There are a few drawbacks associated with burn-in. The efficiency of the burn-in test is impacted by power consumption and voltage scaling. Burn-in does not provide, in most cases, uniform distribution of stress on the equipment. Another disadvantage associated with burn-in is the high cost involved.