At a recent press conference, leading manufacturer of automatic test equipment for the semiconductor industry, Advantest Europe, presented a range of solutions suited to what it termed the ‘Age of Convergence’.
The company states on its website that more than half of the world’s microchips, such as those manufactured for use in smartphones, laptops and cars, pass through its hands. Indeed, despite the pandemic, the company experienced record high orders, sales, and net income for the year 2020. And, as next generation technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to develop, demand for enhanced testing equipment will only increase. Here’s a rundown of Advantest newest solutions as we enter the ‘golden age of semi-conductors’.
Updated SoC system
The first development Advantest presented was its updated V93000 SoC test system. As devices becomes more complex, with billions of transistors all needing to be tested, SoC systems need to deliver higher scan volumes, more power and more multi-site testing, Markus Knoch, director of product marketing at Advantest Europe, explained. “As mobile processors, high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) ICs evolve, the amount of data being processed continues to grow exponentially. Along with these advancements, new testing challenges like very high scan-data volumes, extreme power requirements, fast yield-learning, and high-multisite configurations need to be addressed.”
The company says the newest generation of its V93000 EXA Scale system, which began life over 20 years ago, addresses these challenges. One of the additions to the system is the Pin Scale 5000 digital card which, the company says, has been designed to “address the explosion of scan data volumes which are inherent to large digital designs”.
“The Pin Scale 5000 is setting a new standard for scan test with 5Gbit/s speed and the deepest vector memory available on the market.
“The XPS256 power supply covers all power requirements with a single DPS card: fine-granular power, unlimited and flexible ganging and exceptional static and dynamic performance.
“With 256 channels on the Pin Scale 5000 digital card and XPS256 power supply card, high-multisite configurations can be implemented in smaller physical systems, reducing infrastructure cost and floor-space requirements,” Knoch explained.
The company added that existing V93000 load boards and Smart Scale cards are compatible with the new system and scalable solutions extend across test heads of different sizes, including the ability to test a mix of device functions, like digital, RF, analog and power on one test system.
Test-Cell & Automation
In response to enhanced industry needs including Smart Factory and Industry 4.0 requirements, better Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE), reduced Cost of Test (CoT) and improved test data quality, the company has also developed what it calls a one-stop-shop test cell, which provides fastest time-to-yield for customers.
“The Test-Cell & Automation initiative is one crucial element of the Advantest Grand Design Strategy,” the company said. “It achieves improved OEE by reducing unscheduled downtimes and setup times whilst improving the ratio of disabled contact sites. Several features such as predictive maintenance, lot cascading and auto socket cleaning have been introduced to support this.
“Major CoT savings are also achieved by minimizing the need for human assistance. Technically, Advantest has established advanced automation features, such as auto retest or an interface for Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs).”
The company says it also ensures better test data quality by eliminating errors caused by machine malfunctions or human mistakes together with full traceability on unit level.
“All components can easily be integrated into a test-cell integrated data exchange network. Compiling and processing data from the individual components, additional benefits for test-cell internal process automation are achieved.”
Lastly, the company discussed one of its newest projects known as Advantest Cloud Solutions, launched in 2020.
“Extending Advantest’s leadership in semiconductor test equipment, Advantest is building a Single Scalable Data Platform deeply integrated into their equipment,” the company explained. “Since the single scalable data platform is based on PDF Exensio technology, customers can easily integrate third-party data sources and equipment. This allows customers to develop solutions with a standardized, stable, secure and high-performance set of APIs. This single scalable data platform is also open for partners, enabling an open solutions ecosystem.”
Benjamin Loebmüller, who presented on the topic explained that a single scalable data platform could be used to combat the recent chip shortage to improve visibility into the semiconductor supply chain.
Customers can efficiently respond to the industry’s increasing process complexity and quality requirements with AI solutions while minimizing time to market. Solutions are developed by Advantest, together with partners like PDF Solutions, by third-parties or by customers themselves.