Test Connections - April 2021

Redefining 5G mmWave Semiconductor Device Test

The challenges of mmWave test
Beamforming is a key technology in 5G mmWave communication systems which enables reliable and efficient communications in the mmWave band by transmitting a focused signal using phased-array antennas.

5G test in the sub-6 GHz range is significantly less complicated than that for mmWave devices.  But as we move into the mmWave test arena, many aspects of test become more complicated, and this impacts almost every area of the test system, including instrumentation, interconnects and cabling, software, and calibration.

Marvin Test Solutions’ GENASYS Semi mmWave test solutions provide production proven 44 GHz signal delivery to the device under test and independent, non-multiplexed multi-site test performance up to 53 GHz. GENASYS Semi delivers a full suite of digital and parametric test capabilities, advanced software tools, and a SPI/I2C interface for controlling and monitoring the device under test.

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The transition to production test
The key challenge for our customers is how they can efficiently transition to the manufacturing phase, without sacrificing measurement accuracy, all while increasing throughput.

To ensure reliable 5G communications, component performance must be tested under linear and nonlinear conditions across the entire workflow from design to verification to manufacturing.

Interconnects and cable considerations
Basic interconnects and cabling are almost an afterthought when dealing with many lower frequency applications.  Careful selection of cabling, interconnects and blind mate interfaces ensures repeatable test performance to the DUT.

Automating test
While the use of laboratory instrumentation and a manual setup will certainly yield acceptable test results, we must be aware of issues associated with this including long-term repeatability, and the potential for damage from handling cables that are removed and reconnected repeatedly.

Additionally, test speed and footprint will definitely be unacceptable with this type of configuration for most production environments.

Moving into automated test, GENASYS Semi mmWave semiconductor device test solutions leverage an open architecture design that simplifies expansion and instrumentation updates, with the base configuration being capable of supporting up to 20 independent VNA ports.

System level measurement performance up to 44 GHz has been validated in multiple production environments, with independent, non-multiplexed multi-site test performance up to 53 GHz made possible by selecting higher frequency VNAs.

Vector Network Analyzers are a key part of mmWave system level measurement accuracy and repeatability; we’ve partnered with Keysight Technologies to provide industry-leading VNA instrumentation.

GENASYS Semi systems also support the most common probers and handlers, allowing reuse of existing assets on the test floor.

Modular test platform flexibility
Test system flexibility, and the ability to easily update instrumentation and capabilities, is a key concern expressed by many in the semiconductor test community.

The PXI platform, or PCI eXtensions for Instrumentation (PXI), is used because the modular instrumentation architecture delivers a compact, PC-based solution that incorporates high-performance instrumentation with the benefits of an open industry standard including scalability, reduced footprint and power requirements, as well as obsolescence management.

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The highly integrated nature of the PXIe platform also delivers advantages in system throughput, bandwidth and synchronization, resulting in test times that are significantly faster than other solutions.

Test times

As with any automated test system software plays a critical role.
The ATEasy® Test Executive and Development Studio provides the interface to all instrumentation; its easy to use, text-based development environment simplifies and speeds software development activities.  A suite of semiconductor utilities, ICEasy, is also provided.

System level calibration is another critical aspect of any automated test system, and mmWave test is certainly no exception.  
The most accurate approach, and that adopted in GENASYS Semi systems, involves a multi-step process to isolate the DUT and to accurately and repeatably characterize the signal path to and from the device interface.

Want to know more?
For more details about how GENASYS Semi is redefining 5G mmWave semiconductor device test,  view our recorded webinar online here.

Or contact us today to discuss your requirements and learn how We Make Test EasyTM for semiconductor device manufacturers.