Like all technology advancements, bringing 5G to market requires an array of supporting tools to ensure the end products meet expectations. It will require significant performance advances in chip technology and manufacturing processes—all the while keeping price/performance at an economically viable level.

In both engineering characterization and production, the challenge of testing 5G devices is how to test over a broad RF spectrum, including higher frequencies, while maintaining high throughput. With the significant increase in test content that 5G brings, we are developing ways to provide fast, accurate measurements on 5G devices and accelerate time to market.

5G will operate in a wider spectrum of bands in the mmWave region of RF signals for mobile networks. Three main challenges associated with 5G device testing in the mmW region are:

  1. Frequent calibration is required to ensure accurate measurement with minimum cross talk
  2. The need to handle the large number of RF channels due to phased-array antennas for beam forming
  3. There is a significantly longer test time due to the increased number of frequencies and test conditions, where test automation is essential to ensure fast time to market

To meet these demands in the engineering lab, we have expanded our Contact Intelligence™ technology and introduced the Autonomous RF Assistant, a combination of hardware and software components added to our newest probe systems, enabling true hands-free operation over multiple temperatures. With the Autonomous RF Assistant, an operator can start a test and leave the system measuring during a whole shift, overnight, or even over the weekend. The system automatically recalibrates if performance drifts and probes are dynamically corrected for the most accurate pad placement. This allows users to test more devices in less time and leads to more accurate design models and faster time to market.

For production testing, we’ve responded with Katana-RF, Pyrana and Pyramid probe cards to enable sub-6 GHz to 80+ GHz testing in multi-site configurations to achieve lowest cost of test. Our unique Pyrana probe card architecture brings together two industry-leading technologies; our robust MEMS probes and our Pyramid membrane technology. Our Katana-RF and Pyrana products utilize vertical MEMS probe technology which provides the advantage of high compliance and particle tolerance, enabling test capability up to 30+GHz in a with the highest amount of parallelism on the market in a probe card in these frequencies. Our Pyramid probe cards utilize membrane probe technology which offers ultra low-inductance and superior signal integrity, enabling test capability of 80+ GHz in a full production test environment.

Our long experience manufacturing and employing MEMS probes and developing state-of-the-art RF wafer probe cards is unparalleled in the industry. That experience has allowed us to bring to market new RF wafer probe solutions with the highest parallelism available, lowering production test costs and providing superior RF test capability to handle coming 5G requirements.

As 5G moves forward, we are fully committed to collaborating with leading manufacturers to develop innovative test and measurement approaches that will support the enormous infrastructure required to fulfill its exciting promise.