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.

Earlier this year, FormFactor’s Daniel Bock – along with Jeff Damm – outlined three challenges that 5G creates with regard to RF production.

  1. Higher frequencies with more channels per device
  2. Increased parallelism
  3. Verifying signal accuracy

Our earlier blog – Overcoming 3 Challenges with 5G Production-Level Test – dives into these challenges, and you can also read the Chip Scale Review article.

In our second video presentation in our new Test Insights series, Daniel Bock describes some of the specifications associated with 5G devices and what they are driving in wafer test requirements. Include in his discussion, he discusses the need for better isolation between filters, and probe card design that can meet these challenging measurement requirements. He also reviews features that enable high volume production test, such as calibration schemes and methods to ensure accuracy and improve test efficiency.

In the 5G future, wafer-level production testers will be expected to routinely measure up to 240 RF channels at a time. Currently, no production testers can handle these high channel counts. The expense of calibrating, generating, and routing so many signals between measurement instrumentation and the device under test promises to be considerable using conventional test system architectures.

We are actively researching a cost-effective alternative: to intelligently optimize the test resources between testers and probe cards to support the parallel test of significant higher RF channels. This would include upconverters/downconverters that translate between RF signals and IF signals, COTS switching for cost-effective signal routing, and power splitters capable of feeding many channels in parallel.

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.