SMT007 Magazine

SMT-May2018

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MAY 2018 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 27 integration. This means that the manufacturing process is presented with subassemblies and assemblies with incredible levels of functional- ity. Simple tests are no longer a sufficient proxy that the supply-chain and upstream manu- facturing process have not caused any prob- lems. In my example of over-the-air testing in production, it is not difficult to see a scenario of an operational device with an active antenna that would change its characteristics simply by being measured. This means that functional testing becomes a must since they are testing a functional device—a mobile radio system. Las Marias: What developments in T&M tech- nologies are geared toward addressing the new challenges offered by 5G systems? Nichols: We must do the obvious like imple- ment measurement capabilities to the new stan- dards, make sure we can test the new frequen- cies and bandwidths not previously used in mobile communications, and in some cases address performance improvements needed to meet these needs. We also are working on more over-the-air test technologies not just for mmWave but also for <6GHz—in both cases due to increasing integration of these radio systems and the elimination of RF connectors. We have always been in the test-via-emulation business in mobile communications, and 5G will be no different. We have recently demon- strated network emulation systems for mobile test that work in the new 5G NR standard and these manage that functional test domain. We also have an array of non-signaling and para- metric test solutions available for the process steps that have been streamlined for those needs. We must not forget the high-speed digi- tal domain where our time-domain solutions require more and more functionality to address high-speed data-bus and interconnect specifi- cations. We are adding more and more func- tional test capability to ensure we can cover these demands as well. Las Marias: Is there any difference between the manufacturing process/set-up for 5G-enabled devices and that of previous generations? Nichols: 5G manufacturing is still constrained to building for trials and perhaps the very first phases of early deployment. In these cases, we have already seen some changes from 4G, but I believe that the demands will drive changes much like what 4G did to the manu- facturing processes we developed for 3G. It is difficult to predict where these trends will go, but one thing is for sure and that is the mmWave technologies will drive manufactur- ing test and assembly process innovation to move a technology previously in the domain of high-cost aerospace and defense applications. The commercial communications market is a different beast and will make amazing changes to this set of technologies. Las Marias: Ever finer pitches and line spacing will continue to become a trend in 5G devices. From your perspective, what challenges do these present, and how are you addressing them? Nichols: Such has been a trend for decades and we are excited about these opportuni- ties to provide tools for innovators. In many cases, this is about managing speed, since such fine pitches are needed for higher speeds. So, we continue our trends of ever-faster digital capabilities. Hyper-fast arbitrary wave- form generators, BERTs, and time-domain analysis are the core for this. Over a year ago, we announced the technical capabili- ties to do real-time time-domain analysis with bandwidths exceeding 100GHz. This is a combination of high-speed sampling and ADC, plus signal processing capabilities of which we are super proud. You can watch this space for exciting announcements based on that technology. The commercial communications market is a different beast and will make amazing changes to this set of technologies.

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