Emanuele Bardo, Sales & Development Semiconductor Director
There is no argument that semiconductors are the fundamental prerequisite of today’s technological innovations, including IoT, 5G, autonomous vehicles, and more. However, the ever-evolving technology and added device complexity are putting additional pressures on industry leaders to enhance their testing capabilities while keeping a check on surging expenses, which is undoubtedly, a much larger share of the overall manufacturing cost. As traditional test solutions are struggling to keep up, organizations are obligated to adopt advanced techniques that help increase throughput and lower testing costs.
Established to help organizations enhance their semiconductor testing capabilities is SPEA. This Italian-born independent semiconductor company designs and delivers Automatic Test Equipment (ATE) to test semiconductors, MEMS, electronic boards, growing at a rate of 30 percent per year in the semiconductor business. SPEA recently came up with a revolutionary device-oriented testing (DOT) architecture, representing a new way to test semiconductor components.
“Instead of having a big-iron cabinet containing analog instruments, digital instruments, power instruments, and so on, connected to an interface that is customized on the products to be tested, we have introduced the ‘tester-in-a-board’ concept” says Emanuele Bardo, Sales & Development Semiconductor Director at SPEA.
“On a single board, we incorporated all the resources to test one or more semiconductor components. The board is configurable, and can be replicated inside the machine to reach the required multi-site capability, with practically 100 percent of efficiency”.
The advantages of this architecture are tangible: zero footprint (the entire tester can be docked on the wafer prober, with no additional space occupation), reduced power consumption, simplicity of programming, use and maintenance. And, above all, the biggest benefits are brought in terms of costs, with savings on the cost of test per device that are two-digit, often exceeding 60 percent.
The DOT platform is positioning SPEA as the most innovative company for testing semiconductor components. Demonstration is that several major IDM companies across USA, Europe and Asia started switching from the old big-frame test architectures to the new zero-footprint test concept.
“In the last two years, SPEA became the exclusive supplier for one of the biggest IDMs worldwide” adds Bardo. “We have been benchmarked on two of their most complex products, addressing smartphone and automotive market respectively. With our DOT technology, we reduced the cost of test by 60 percent for the automotive device, and by 86 percent for the consumer device. Moreover, they appreciate the DOT open architecture, which is modular and continuously evolving to match the customer’s roadmap”.
Two additional factors give SPEA’s DOT ATE an extra edge. First, the equipment portability and simplicity make it suitable for demonstrations directly at the customer’s site: instead of basing on a paper testability analysis made upon device specifications, it is possible to quickly demonstrate the tester capabilities.
Second, DOT ATE is designed to be an interactive part of an Industry 4.0 production floor. SPEA’s smart system is designed with the capability to assess its performance by looking at the data and calibrate itself, instead of physically doing it, in a true prescriptive maintenance perspective.
With several such success stories, SPEA has witnessed a massive growth in its business trajectory and is currently working to increase its production capabilities to align with the growing demand. The company is also planning to hire more industry experts to provide the best customer support to its huge client base across the globe. “Our innovation labs are continuously working to enhance the capabilities of our solution by incorporating new technologies, aiming to further bring in revolutions to the semiconductor testing space,” concludes Bardo.