Taoyuan /PRNewswire/ - The breakneck speed of innovation and evolution happening in the semiconductor manufacturing space requires capital equipment that can accommodate several device generations and applications to justify the cost of ownership.
And in the test and measurement (T&M) sector—a key part of the IC design and manufacturing industry—system versatility, performance, and capability are critical factors to consider when choosing the testing solution amid the increasingly complicated semiconductor designs and packaging.
"I would say 2023 is a year of transformation," says Eugene Lin, Vice President of Chroma ATE Inc., a Taiwan-based supplier of precision test and measurement instrumentation, automated test systems, and intelligent manufacturing systems and turnkey solutions. "We see chips getting more complicated, and devices not just doing digital logic, but also power. Advanced packaging technologies now enable the combination of digital logic ICs and power devices in one chip, making the impossible possible."
And then there is artificial intelligence (AI), he adds. "It is not just driving the high-end HPC chips, which are enabled by a lot of sensors to collect data; but is also driving edge AI."
That increase in sensors and edge AI applications, and the continuously growing activity around that ecosystem, has provided Chroma a lot of opportunities this year.
"More and more, we are seeing growing demand for multipurpose testers because of the increasingly complicated device designs, which feature higher power and faster switching speeds," says Lin. "It is not just a digital tester or an analog tester—now we are talking about a combination of digital-analog and mixed-signal functions altogether in one tester."
He adds that because of the increasing volumes of IC designs from fabless companies being driven to foundries like TSMC, parallel testing is becoming more important to enable higher density during tests.
"Those are the good challenges for us, which are also making Chroma more successful in that area," says Lin.
Unparalleled test versatility
One of Chroma's test solutions that accommodate the latest generations of IC designs and their complicated architecture and test requirements is the Chroma 3650 Series 2. Featuring a variety of options such as AD/DA converter test, ALPG for memory test, high voltage PE, multiple scan chain tests, and analog test, Chroma's 3650 Series 2 provides wide coverage for different kinds of devices with flexible configurations. Suitable for testing power management chips and ICs, the 3650 Series 2's diverse offering of floating ground VI boards, HDDPS2, HVVI, PVI100, and MPVI can cover high-precision, high-voltage, and high-current testing requirements.
Moreover, its high throughput and high parallel test capabilities provide the most cost-effective solution for fabless, IDM, and testing houses. And for these features and capabilities, Chroma's 3650 Series 2 is one of the recipients of the Best Test & Measurement of the Year award at EE Awards Asia 2023.
Now in its third year, EE Awards Asia—organized by AspenCore—celebrates the best products, companies, and industry executives making a difference every day in Asia's electronics industry. It honors the people and companies in Asia, which are behind the technologies that are changing the way we work, live, and communicate over the past year.
"Chroma really feels honored to receive this award from the readers of EE Times Asia," says Lin. "The 3650 Series 2 platform is a digital IC tester with built-in power options. Now, we are offering customers a maximum of 3000V of voltage and 320A pulse mode current to satisfy the demanding needs from customers in the semiconductor sector, particular in the gallium nitride [GaN] and silicon carbide [SiC] space. The Series 2 tester provides resources that make testing more stable. Also, the floating resources are making parallel and serial outputs more flexible. Customers can do in parallel or in series the output of our floating instruments to fulfill the needs of their devices under test. Lastly, we are offering a lot higher resource density and enough electrical power to make sure all that resources get powered to maximize parallel testing."
Lin adds, "EE Times is one of the most influential media in the electrical/electronics industry. When I started my job as an engineer in—you know, now some of the world's largest test and measurement companies——every time, we receive product awards. But for me, made in Taiwan products, for instance, Chroma receiving this award, is kind of a dream. It is a no-brainer when working for global brands; but now that we are working for a local Taiwan company, and we receive this recognition, it is exciting news for us and further encourages us to do more. This is really making Chroma one of the globally recognized test and measurement companies, and a good symbol that the electronics industry in Taiwan is reaching global standards. So, I encourage more Taiwan-based companies to join us in making more contributions to the global electronics industry."
Chroma is focused on integrating digital and analog capabilities in its testers as well as addressing the advanced packaging trend in the IC industry.
"What we see is advanced packaging and a combination of analog and digital capabilities. We will have more products and instruments targeting this need," he says. "For 2024 and beyond, we will also have higher density and higher speed digital engines to make our platforms even more established in the market."
Meanwhile, Lin expects more and more AI integration into people's lives. "Starting from next year, we will see these kinds of products in the market—AI combined with mobile phones, or combined with PCs, or combined with home appliances. You will see it more and more, and 2024 will be the starting year of it. I am not too worried about the overall economy next year, because I am very sure those new products will be driving another wave of demand. Because everything will be kind of connected to generative AI, whatever company is offering this AI, the driving force will be multiple in the future," says Lin.
And not just in home appliances, he says, but also AI in cars and smart audio.
"Those will drive new parts, new components, and new products in the market. Of course, eventually, those will also be driving the central HPC AI core, there will definitely be a need for that," says Lin. "This whole trend that will spread out into our everyday lives will really be making a big difference. So, I see 2024 will be good; and 2025 and beyond will be even better."