How Modern Chip Test Labs Can Accelerate Time-to-Market

“Liu Cixin, the author of the science fiction “Three-Body Problem” series, used the metaphor of ‘bow and arrow and musket’ to describe the technological gap between the Earth and the Three-Body Problem: Although the two have the same range and can roughly hit targets 1,500 meters away, their power , speed, accuracy and other comprehensive performance are no longer in one dimension, this is the gap between technology/engineering theory.”

Entering 2021, in the semiconductor field driven by the commercialization of 5G and AI, the complexity and integration of chip design will continue to increase. For example, the complexity of 5G chips is 5-10 times higher than that of 4G chips, and the design concept of AI chips is also From “generic” to “specialized”, “homogeneous” to “heterogeneous”, etc. What’s more, the pressure of chip design companies on the time-to-market and quality control of products, the obvious cost and hidden cost are gradually increasing, and the requirements for chip testing are also getting higher and higher. In the past, semiconductor practitioners placed more than a dozen instruments and equipment on the laboratory table to meet the testing needs. With the increase in the difficulty of testing 5G and AI chips, traditional testing theories and processes have gradually become inefficient and cannot be reused, which is similar to how cold weapons are used in modern warfare. Perhaps, we need to think about “testing” from a higher dimension.

  How Modern Chip Test Labs Can Accelerate Time-to-Market

Lab-on-a-Chip moves from traditional concept to modernization

Hidden Costs of Chip Test

On the one hand, chip design companies are burdened with the external environment problems of greatly increasing chip complexity and rapid product launch. On the other hand, they also need to solve the obvious costs of capital, software, engineering, training, office space, manpower, etc., as well as the suspension of work during the epidemic. Various hidden costs such as repeated testing of different processes, underutilized assets, adaptation management, data analysis, etc., make it impossible to start an enterprise operation strategy.

  How Modern Chip Test Labs Can Accelerate Time-to-Market

The Obvious and Hidden Costs of Chip Design

Therefore, in the next decade of the semiconductor field, we need modern engineering technology and operating concepts to meet the increasing test challenges and cost pressures. Today, the world’s top design companies are actively promoting the standardization and process efficiency of testing in the lab-on-a-chip phase, and accelerating the collaborative work of different teams in chip design, testing, and application. NI implements the concept of Modern Lab, innovates the chip research and development process, and is committed to helping chip design companies accelerate their growth.

Semiconductor Engineering Technology and Operating Philosophy for the Next Decade

The Modern Lab concept refers to the concept of a standardized and efficient lab-on-a-chip operation process. From the chip Bring up after the chip First Silicon to the analysis of Bench characteristics, NPI needs to go through different stages. The modern laboratory helps enterprises to standardize this series of processes in an efficient and standardized operation mode, and helps enterprises to define standards and standards from the early design stage. Efficient toolchain with operational efficiency as the first goal to accelerate time to market.

Based on the integration of NI’s advanced software, hardware and connection technology, Modern Lab realizes the transformation from the traditional bench test method to an overall automated test solution that accelerates chip verification and makes full use of data to achieve the purpose of verification:

(1) Improve validation insights through effective use of test data;

(2) Overall automation to eliminate manual tasks and human error;

(3) The time and cost are greatly reduced through the reusable software framework.

  How Modern Chip Test Labs Can Accelerate Time-to-Market

Among them, Modern Lab accesses remote system management, automatic analysis and reporting of cross-program data sets through cloud services at the software level, and builds scalable systems suitable for various new test types on hardware, enabling it to realize all I/O. Control and data acquisition, and use a standard interface between the DUT and the hardware, so the program interface can also be reused.

Giving engineers freedom through standardization

Traditional R&D and testing laboratories are filled with countless instruments with different specifications, standards and interfaces, making engineers who should focus on R&D be comfortable with cables and instrument interfaces, consuming a lot of time and energy, thus hindering the pace of innovation by engineers. The standardization of hardware interface is a good start for a laboratory to modernize, and then realize data standardization on the basis of software standardization.

On the basis of the advantages of software and hardware standardization, NI Modern Lab further promotes data standardization and accelerates the modernization of chip enterprise laboratories: engineers do not have to worry about building test instruments and software frameworks, thereby freeing engineers’ hands and allowing them to focus on It will not affect the process of project development and testing because of the changes of engineers and the familiarity time of testing codes and processes that vary from person to person. At the same time, these standardized data can be read and downloaded online in real time. It is convenient for chip companies to set up efficient global R&D centers and maximize the efficiency of R&D and testing.

  How Modern Chip Test Labs Can Accelerate Time-to-Market

Based on Modern Lab, accelerate Time-to-Market

Based on hardware solutions such as modular equipment assets, rapid debug, and automatic scalability, as well as software advantages such as large-scale software reuse, interactive learning, automated test and measurement, deployed workstation management, data analysis and reporting platforms, NI Modern Lab is the chip Design customers to provide advanced data analysis capabilities, 7 × 24 automatic verification, scalable framework from prototype to mass production, remote access and many other advantages in one test system to help customers build a modern laboratory:

(1) Implement a standard verification environment for all engineers;

(2) Improve efficiency and speed up time to market;

(3) Improve equipment quality and reduce support burden.


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