Accelerating Innovation in Semiconductor Testing

May 20, 2024

By Samer Kabbani, President & Chief Technology Officer

Extracted from AEM Annual Report 2023

The race is certainly in full throttle for semiconductor incumbents and hyperscalers to produce faster and more capable processors. AEM has been the leader in the compute test space for over 20 years and is poised to benefit from the myriad of new advanced and accelerated compute chips that require more complex test flows and testing with software in mission mode.

Recognising the critical importance of resilient supply chains in the face of disruptions, major companies, and governments are now increasing their investments in resources to fortify these networks. This heightened focus on supply chain resilience has sparked a global race among nations and corporations alike to develop and enhance advanced semiconductor production capabilities. The globalisation trend also drives the adoption of Factory 4.0 practices, aiming to standardise labour costs while enhancing efficiency. Many of these emerging policies and incentives are in favourable geographical locations where AEM has traditionally maintained strong manufacturing and engineering capabilities. This geographical colocation will provide a unique strategic advantage for AEM in the coming years.

The Test Cell Solutions (TCS) Business Unit was organised back in 2022 into two main groups: Wafer Test Solutions (WTS), which focuses on wafer-level test solutions, and Package Test Solutions (PTS), which focuses on test solutions for packaged ICs. In the past year, both WTS and PTS remained steadfast in delivering innovative solutions that meet customers’ rapidly evolving needs while sustaining their competitive edge in the industry. A key focus was expanding our patents portfolio to cover our recent disruptive advancements in wafer probe and package test thermal control.

WTS entered 2023 with a strong order book from the automotive Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) segment for well-established products. Despite challenges in material availability, AEM was able to support customers on production ramp-up successfully. Automotive MEMS-related products have gained traction, and more deliveries will be made in 2024. MEMS prober product line continued to maintain a foothold in niche markets, where AEM has a unique capability.

Cryogenic Wafer Prober (CWP) gained more orders from existing and new customers as investments in Quantum Computing are increasing globally. AEM, in partnership with Bluefors, has patented unique technologies capable of testing 300mm wafers in near absolute zero temperature. A shift from research to manufacturing is expected to be a reality in a five-year timeframe, multiplying the demand for production-capable test systems for Quantum Computing.

WTS completed initial successful evaluations of our new P-Series products at our strategic customers and was able to showcase a near 5x thermal control improvement compared to the incumbent solutions. The demand for our disruptive technology remains strong, with several customers expressing a keen desire to deploy our P-Series in production as soon as possible.

PTS has had an eventful 2023. Earlier in the year, PTS expanded its footprint into a leading Mobility and Compute customer. We were selected as the primary supplier for an advanced thermal solution for their development labs moving forward. This win is critical in paving the way to future production wins in their high-volume manufacturing (HVM) lines. In Q1 2023, PTS achieved an important milestone by winning a major production SLT selection for a leading Mobility and Compute supplier. This marked PTS’s first success with our new High Parallel System Test (HPST) platform. The competition was intense, as HPST sought to challenge a longstanding SLT equipment incumbent. The selection underscored AEM’s thermal technology prowess coupled with industry-leading high parallel automation.

Last year, PTS announced the successful deployment of our AMPS test platform at a leading memory IC supplier. We are confident that AEM’s AMPS has demonstrated clear differentiation in both performance and affordability versus the competition.

The overall TCS Business Unit remains committed to pursuing a robust growth trajectory through targeted technology development and close collaboration with strategic customers. We are enthusiastic about the numerous growth opportunities stemming from recent shifts in the AI/HPC markets and eagerly anticipate delivering impactful solutions in the upcoming year.

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