The ongoing progression of semiconductor technology is resulting in more sophisticated devices with higher degrees of integrated functionality. As a consequence there are a multitude of different parameters that now need to be tested, with every stage in the overall development and production process requiring the use of distinct pieces of instrumentation. This has serious implications when looking to source these items in a convenient, cost effective and risk-free manner. In response to these dynamics, Microlease has just introduced its Semiconductor Tool Box.
This highly versatile, multifaceted test solution allows semiconductor manufacturers, foundries and design houses to deal with all aspects of test and validation activity – from initial research and development, through to design test, prototype test and finally production test. Customers can choose a sourcing package that best suits their needs, comprising hardware, software and probing elements. This may be for short term rental, longer term leasing, or the acquisition of new or used equipment. Rented items can easily be upgraded or swapped with other pieces of equipment should the required test framework change at any point.
Here are some of the aspects covered by the Semiconductor Tool Box now available from Microlease:
* Power Testing – Clearly one of the major challenges faced by the semiconductor industry is keeping IC power losses in check. Doing this means that the end products into which such ICs are incorporated will have lower power consumption and therefore benefit from longer battery lives (in the case of consumer electronics goods) or be able to attain higher energy saving ratings (in relation to domestic appliances). In addition, advances in power technology result in there being less heat to dissipate, so the accompanying thermal management can be scaled down (with system cost and space utilisation advantages thus derived). Among the many rental/leasing/purchasing options available from Microlease are an extensive portfolio of power supplies and power test solutions, such as Keysight’s B1500 parameter analyser (with a 100µs sampling rate) and the Keithley/Tektronix 26xx series of power source meters.
* RF IC Testing – With new wireless standards being introduced, such as LTE Advanced Pro, 5G and 802.11ax, as well as next generation techniques to enhance RF performance, like envelope tracking (ET) and digital pre-distortion (DPD), test engineering teams are being placed under greater pressure than ever. They have to find more effective ways of making test times as short as possible and keeping throughput high, without incurring additional costs or compromising on accuracy. Among the tools offered by Microlease for RF testing purposes are the Keysight N9040B signal analyser (which has up to 50GHz bandwidth and 78dBc spurious-free dynamic range) and the E8267D high performance signal generator (with broad scope for configuration).
* Design Testing – Oscilloscopes form the basis of nearly all semiconductor test procedures. Thanks to its comprehensive oscilloscope offering, Microlease is able to supply customers with a solution that is fully optimised for their particular technical and budgetary criteria. It encompasses standard analogue and digital models, right through to high performance 40GHz models. Mixed signal units (where the oscilloscope is combined with a logic analyser) and mixed domain units (with the oscilloscope plus a built-in spectrum analyser) are also included.
* Physical Layer Testing – Making sure the physical parameters of ICs meet the expected specifications will often call for the employment of an RF network analyser with time domain reflectometer (TDR) functionality. Microlease stocks an expansive portfolio of such equipment from leading manufacturers. Among these are the 4-port port 67GHz ZVA-67 from Rohde & Schwarz and the 50GHz PNA-X series from Keysight.
“With annual IC shipments closing in on the 1 billion mark, smaller architectures being utilised and new processes emerging, such as GaN and SiC, plus greater proliferation of MEMS devices, the semiconductor business is setting more exacting test demands than ever before,” states George Acris, Marketing Director, Microlease. “Through the strength and depth of Microlease’s inventory, backed by our expert application support, test professionals are presented with almost limitless scope when it comes to accessing the advanced test technology they need in the most economical and flexible way possible. Furthermore, this can be achieved without having to be concerned about prolonged lead times, equipment obsolescence, or hidden costs due to maintenance or calibration.”