Chroma ATE Spotlights AI and IoT Chip Test Solutions to Address Soaring Demand in Edge Computing

11 Jan 2024

The rising popularity of generative AI is spurring demand for high-performance computing. This in turn fuels demand for edge system components and related applications, all of which bring along stringent testing requirements. Chroma ATE, an industry leader in the power test & measurement industry, has also secured a prominent position in the increasingly critical field of semiconductor component testing. To address the continually rising testing needs of domestic and international customers, Chroma recently hosted the Chroma ATE Semiconductor Test Seminar in Hsinchu, Taiwan, one of Asia’s premier tech hubs. The event focused on sharing Chroma’s next-generation solutions for GaN and RF component testing, all set to provide customers with exceptional test performance.

Continued Excellence in ATE Market, Focusing on AI, IoT, GaN/SiC Power Component Testing Demands

George Chang, President of Chroma’s Semiconductor Test Equipment BU, stressed the significance of this event—the second of its kind—during his introductory remarks. He explained that the challenging journey Chroma ATE has undertaken in the global semiconductor test equipment field for over two decades was a major reason for hosting this seminar. As of December 2023, Chroma had over four thousand semiconductor test systems deployed globally, firmly establishing itself in the top four of the global semiconductor Automated Test Equipment (ATE) market.

Eugene Lin, Vice President of Chroma’s Semiconductor Test Equipment BU, discussed the recent growth in the markets of AI, IoT, and third-generation semiconductors (GaN/SiC). With the expanding demand for semiconductor components, particularly in AI and IoT applications, he highlighted the complementary relationship between these two markets. As IoT devices and AI applications become more widespread, Edge AI, enabling real-time computation directly from endpoint devices, is proving to be a vital emerging technology. Chroma's advanced SoC test system, the 3680, is well-suited for Edge AI and IoT communication chip testing, meeting the high-speed and high-precision mixed-signal testing requirements of AI chips. When coupled with the wireless/RF function board HDRF2, it can perform tests on RF chips for satellite-based navigation such as GPS, BeiDou, and Galileo, as well as common wireless network technologies like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and LPWAN. Catering specifically to GaN/SiC component testing, the Chroma 3650-S2 is purpose-built to meet the high-power needs of these applications.

▲Chroma ATE's Semiconductor Test Equipment BU General Manager, George Chang, stated that as of December 2023,
Chroma had shipped over four thousand semiconductor test equipment units globally. In terms of global ATE market rankings, Chroma sits among the top four players.

Power Performance Comparison, Precise Measurement of Leakage Current Emerges as Key

Spancer Lee, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at Chroma’s Semiconductor Test Equipment BU, delved into the challenges of testing GaN components. As power levels continue to escalate, the leakage current in GaN components increasingly impacts the power performance of the overall system. Achieving precise measurements at the scale of nanoamperes (nA) is crucial, especially given the rapid switching speeds involved. This is why for engineers, precise measurement capabilities are indispensable when it comes to automated test equipment (ATE). Mr. Lee highlighted that the Chroma 3650-S2 addresses the need for accurate measurement of small currents. To handle the high-frequency characteristics of GaN components, the pulse signals provided by the test platform meet the requirements of being small, precise, and fast. This capability enables engineers to observe the overall performance of the component. Since its launch in 2022, the tester has been capable of handling voltage levels of 3000V, which had already been upgraded to 3750V in 2023. Anticipations are set for the system to surpass the 4000V milestone in 2024, thereby fully meeting the test requirements for high-power applications.

▲Live demonstration of the Chroma 3650-S2 High-Performance Power IC Test Platform.

Addressing IoT and 5G Demands, Introducing New HDRF2 RF Test Module

Lenskin Tsai, Director of Business Development at ADIVIC Technology, a Chroma Group subsidiary, shared insights into wireless and RF signal measurement. ADIVIC specializes in wireless communication measurement and is a key subsidiary within the Chroma Group. Mr. Tsai explained that the Chroma 3680 test platform, when paired with the HDRF2 module, assists customers in meeting their wireless and RF testing requirements even with limited resources. In recent years, high cost of test has significantly impacted the 5G sector, leading to fewer investments by industry players. However, based on Chroma’s observations, this challenge has been acknowledged on a global level by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), the global mobile communications standards organization. As part of future spectrum planning, the organization plans to open up the 7-24GHz frequency band in a bid to reduce testing costs. At the same time, Chroma ATE has initiated development of its next generation of RF test modules to continue meeting the wireless signal testing needs of both domestic and international service providers.

▲ Live demonstration of the Chroma 3680 Advanced SoC Test System and HDRF2 RF Test Module.

Beyond Hardware – Chroma ATE Provides Customers with Platform Conversion Tools

Shih-Fang Zeng, Technical Support Manager at Chroma’s Semiconductor Test Equipment BU, approached the topic from the angle of a very tangible customer need: platform conversion. He explained to the audience how to transition from competitors' semiconductor test platforms to the 3680. Mr. Zeng pointed out that traditionally, platform conversions could take around three to six months, potentially causing missed market opportunities. The conversion process does indeed present numerous challenges. However, by adopting Chroma’s comprehensive conversion solution, customers can complete the transition in about a month, with relatively simple steps. Relevant information during the conversion process is displayed directly on the system to aid customers in making adjustments, enhancing efficiency while reducing conversion costs.

As a key player in the global ATE market, Chroma ATE remains proactive in responding to market trends and customer demands. By targeting applications with high-growth potential in the semiconductor market, Chroma is poised to expand its market footprint, with efficient platform conversion support as a crucial asset. Evidently, the company is well positioned to sustain stable performance and maintain its leadership in AI, IoT, and third-generation semiconductor testing.

Chroma 3650-S2 SoC/Analog Test System


Chroma 3680 Advanced SoC Test System


▲The Chroma ATE Semiconductor Test Seminar attracted nearly 200 industry experts.