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The Semiconductor Industry Has a Bright Future Ahead – AEM
January 25, 2021 News


Many businesses have closed either temporarily or for good during the pandemic. Various industries are also facing new challenges and finding ways to cope with the changes during these times. The semiconductor industry, however, is quite the contrary, as it remains resilient this year and will only grow even faster in the future.

In fact, the worldwide sales of semiconductors totalled USD$ 35 billion in May 2020, an increase of 5.8% compared to May 2019, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). This is mainly because of the continuous demands for semiconductors during these times where communication is needed the most.

Chandran Nair, CEO of AEM, a global leader of intelligent system test and handling solutions for semiconductor and electronics companies, explained further why the industry is still growing today in an interview with DTA. “The semiconductor industry did quite well mainly because the primary drivers for semiconductors were up during the pandemic. More people needed computers and mobile devices that are used for communications”, he said.

For example, there is an increased need today in working and schooling from home – scenarios that require devices – which helped drive up the need for semiconductors. Chandran added that the impact on the supply chain was tremendous, but AEM was able to maintain operations through business continuity planning and since the semiconductor industry is considered an essential one.

As a testament to this, Chandran said that almost any product you can think about, if it is not purely mechanical, has some semiconductor or some form of a semiconductor device in it, which makes the industry a necessity today. In the future, more and more industries and technologies will require semiconductors to enable computing and processing powers.

“Just an average car has over 50 microprocessors and approximately 5,000 to 7,000 ICs in them. Almost every aspect of our life now involves interacting, in one way or the other, with devices that need semiconductors in them. Mobility, communications, 5G, automotive, computing – these are some of the drivers that one sees in the semiconductor industry”, Chandran added.

This growth, however, requires the semiconductor industry to meet all the demands of the market and AEM as a testing company needs to improve its processes to further aid their customers. As such, Chandran said that they would continue on a few vectors.

One area of improvement is the continuous spending of effort and money on the correct technologies to ensure that AEM is ahead of the curve when it comes to testing methodology. He added that they would continue to invest in automation technology to increase parallelism and throughput so that the semiconductor manufacturers are able to meet the ramp-up in their needs of high-volume manufacturing.

“And then the third part is we also make sure that we continue fine-tuning the business continuity plans and what we call the site resilience plans to ensure that we are able to work in lockdown situations within each country to be able to continue to produce outputs to meet our customers’ needs”, he added.

In doing this, AEM utilises data analytics and machine learning to reduce the cost of testing, while, at the same time, increase coverage and improve time to market. Chandran explained that these technologies reduce the overall cost of testing. Secondly, when you have the ability to take data all the way from the design to prototype, manufacturing and testing, you are able to shorten the time of deployment of your product.

He added that the time to market is also reduced and the time in market constraints can be optimised. Data analytics and machine learning helped tremendously with regards to shortening design cycle and shortening the time – from design through prototyping to manufacturing.

Talking about emerging technologies, Chandran also touched on the role of AEM and the semiconductor industry in general in the advent of 5G where IoT and AI become mainstream. He said, “Semiconductors are the primary drivers of 5G, whether it’s on the telecommunication side, the computing side or on the sensor technology”.

According to Chandran, the whole concept of the smart world, the IoT needs to be maximised and this revolves around three central pillars – cheap and extremely fast computing, easy access or quick access to telecommunications and broadband communications and cost-effective sensor technology.

The convergence of these three pillars brings the true potential of 5G, and semiconductors have a role in all of these. AEM plays an important part to make sure that these electronic devices and semiconductor devices that are out in the market are tested thoroughly, are safe to use and highly reliable.

“We have a very unique and highly-differentiated way of doing one system-level tests. In what we call enhanced system-level test enables people to test these high-end semiconductor devices in either processors, automotive devices or mobility devices and run them in”, he explained.

In system-level tests, testing with full coverage for semiconductors or electronic modules is conducted, since devices are getting more and more complicated and conventional ways of testing are not enough.

What AEM has is the ability to take the semiconductor devices in high-volume manufacturing and test the in parallel with a very large number of these devices so that customers can increase their throughput while they get the test coverage that system-level testing provides.

“AEM is really the company that is able to test innovation, be innovative in testing, reduce the cost of testing and really assure progress”, Chandran ended.