Fast testing and reduced costs of semiconductors at a time of high-demand can boost the potential of 5G-driven technologies.

Semiconductors and electronics are the engines of advanced computing, connectivity and sensory technology.

Successful innovation and meaningful adoption of these engines require rigorous and agile testing that integrate with their rapid advancement, assuring reliability, enabling scalability, and accelerating progress.

That is what a firm specializing in 5G testing sees amid the current global shortage of semiconductor: its role is make the most of its business resilience to help the sector during the slowdown.

DigiconAsia welcomed the chance to hear from Chandran Nair, CEO of AEM Holdings on his firm’s role in using AI and machine learning to prop up the 5G economy during these anxious times.

Chandran Nair, CEO, AEM Holdings

DigiconAsia: The pandemic-driven surge in demand for electronics during the pandemic has caused a semiconductor shortage. How does 5G testing help?

Chandran Nair (CN): The high demand for electronics, power and Wi-Fi facilities due to the pandemic lockdowns and remote-working caused the semiconductor industry to experience a huge demand but supply chain disruptions did not help the industry to keep up with the demand.

That said, our organization was able to maintain operations through business continuity planning, since the semiconductor industry is considered an essential one.

Going forward, the trend for semiconductor demand is likely to continue, and at the same time, this means that we will need innovative 5G testing solutions to help the sector keep up with this growth amid reduced resources.

Testing solutions need to encompass a breadth of functionality and technology in order to ensure a shorter time to market, and excellent test coverage as well.

DigiconAsia: How significant is the reduced time for delivery to the market, and reduced cost when machine learning and data analytics are used?

CN: With the increase in complexity and sophistication of user applications, it is critical that advanced testing solutions are in place to ensure excellent test coverage, functionality of products, and achieve quicker production. Our organization invests in data analytics and machine learning to reduce the cost of testing, while also increasing coverage and improving time to market. With the ability to take data all the way from the design to prototype, manufacturing and testing, companies can shorten the time of deployment of their product.

A reduced time of delivery to the market is significant as it allows companies to increase production during periods of high demand, and the time in market constraints can be managed optimally. Consequently, quicker time to market can increase sales, customer satisfaction, and the company’s bottom line. Moreover, in a consumer-focused world, product life cycles and time to market are key to capture market share.

In the case of machine learning and data analytics, not only do they reduce the cost of manufacturing complex chips, but they can improve quality as well. With machine and data analytics, advanced testing solutions are able to identify patterns from data and make better predictions on products during tests. This in turn allows manufacturers to adopt targeted testing, which reduces the overall time for manufacturing, and ultimately the costs of production while improving the quality of products.

DigiconAsia: Could you provide a clear picture of how detailed testing solutions have become in the current 5G economy?

CN: The semiconductor industry is expected to continue to be driven by the 5G economy with technologies that will enable new applications in autonomous driving, computing, IoT, AI, and more.

With the advancement of 5G technologies, demand for semiconductors is seeing enormous growth. This in turn also raises the demand for innovative test solutions due to the increasing complexity of products.

The whole concept of the smart world and IoT revolves around three central pillars:

  1. cheap and extremely fast computing
  2. easy access or quick access to telecommunications and broadband communications
  3. cost-effective sensor technology

These pillars bring about the true potential of 5G, and semiconductors have a role in all of these. Due to the progress in packaging, multiple IP blocks can now be merged into a combo chip. This means that traditional testing solutions, which can test monolithic IC packages, will no longer be effective.

In recent years, system-level testing has become the preferred solution for customers. A system-level test is the ability to test a chip, or multiple chips in a package, in the context of how it ultimately will be used. System-level testing allows us to test the SoC (System on Chip) or SIP (System in Package) in its use-case application environment, which increases reliability and test coverage.

System-level testing will enable companies to scale their testing to meet high volume manufacturing needs at a lower cost, and achieve quicker time to market.

Enhanced system-level testing enables people to test these high-end semiconductor devices including logic, automotive devices and mobility devices.

DigiconAsia thanks Chandran for sharing his thoughts on 5G testing amid the semiconductor shortage.