The worldwide pandemic has accelerated the adoption of rising semiconductor applied sciences to satisfy market calls for, which has enabled firms with superior expertise to outperform their competitors. Greater than 50% of firms might want to construct new digital companies to remain economically viable, and restoration from the pandemic will contain everlasting modifications to many dimensions of a company, together with the tempo at which it conducts enterprise; its core worth proposition; and the expertise.
With digital and technology-driven disruptions making a winner-takes-all dynamic in an increasing variety of industries, solely a subset of organizations is more likely to thrive. In right this moment’s aggressive semiconductor market, the place high firms have strong and expansive expertise portfolios which can be all the time evolving, a powerful expertise basis is vital for fulfillment. The time is now for these firms to make daring and modern investments in superior expertise and digital capabilities.
Results of pandemic on digital ecosystem
The pandemic has amplified the necessity for expertise development and has inspired innovation throughout your entire digital ecosystem, from massive knowledge and synthetic intelligence (AI) to cloud computing and Web of Issues (IoT). Conventional brick and mortar retail firms have embraced expertise to stay related and meet the calls for of tech-savvy shoppers. Huge knowledge has facilitated the digitization of assorted industries and exponential development in eCommerce. Moreover, with journey restrictions imposed practically worldwide, do business from home grew to become ubiquitous, leading to an unanticipated surge within the uptake of cloud gaming and high-performance computing (HPC) as a service.
Determine 1 The above chart exhibits the compound annual development charge for server gross sales. Supply: Teradyne
The server market supporting AI hyperscalers is anticipated to develop by 50% 12 months over 12 months by means of 2025, whereas cloud gaming CAGR is anticipated to develop at an astonishing 72% by means of 2025. Nonetheless, tremendous high-performance methods have particularly difficult energy necessities clocking as much as 10.2 KWatts per server. The rising class of exascale high-performance computer systems—computing methods able to calculating no less than 1018 IEEE 754 Double Precision operations per second—and trillion parameter AI fashions for duties equivalent to correct conversational AI require months to coach, even with the processing energy of right this moment’s supercomputers.
Determine 2 In a typical server structure, all processing parts require energy utilization. Supply: Teradyne
Energy administration challenges attributable to increased demand for computing energy
As computing energy will increase, transistor rely per die will increase in tandem. Though course of node counts have decreased through the years, die measurement is growing as transistor counts double each 18 months. So, onboard actual property for energy administration gadgets decreases to accommodate bigger processors. Consequently, growing present draw coupled with lowering availability of board growth space for silicon-based MOSFETs, which provide present to the processors, ends in an fascinating energy administration problem.
Determine 3 The above knowledge highlights battling present necessities and obtainable design area. Supply: Teradyne
An insatiable urge for food for increased energy processors, for purposes equivalent to AI coaching servers, drives a considerable enhance in MOSFET drivers. To maintain warmth era as little as potential and maximize vitality effectivity, these gadgets are designed with low RDSON to ship lots of of amps of present to the processors they’re powering. Nonetheless, high-volume MOSFET drivers with extraordinarily low RDSON measuring lower than 1 mΩ create challenges for semiconductor check.
Check challenges for reaching exact measurements
Testing semiconductors previous to the set up in last software is vital to make sure gadgets meet specified necessities for the lifetime of their use. Sustaining aggressive price of check (COT), whereas offering full check protection, requires precision high-power instrumentation to function precisely and effectively.
Measuring precision voltages throughout the 1 mΩ gate resistance on the MOSFET driver requires tens of amps of present to circulate by means of. Excessive bandwidth, precision and energy devices from automated check gear (ATE) can effectively measure RDSON resistance precisely. Nonetheless, parasitic resistance from the gadget interface boards (DIB) and a tool check socket’s contact resistance, which may measure as much as 50 occasions of the MOSFET driver’s RDSON, pushes the boundaries of sustaining optimum utilization of the check cell.
Moreover, excessive present pulsing may cause magnetic coupling into adjoining traces, compromising measured worth for adjoining websites in excessive parallelism resolution. Sadly, the trade apply of defending or carefully coupling high-current traces shouldn’t be viable when coping with current-induced magnetic coupling. To be able to handle this problem, the high-current traces have to be laid out as broadside differential pairs to optimize the magnetic area cancelation. Pulsing substantial present by means of high-contact resistance generates extreme warmth and damages contact pins over time.
Exact RDSON measurements of gadgets may very well be achieved by meticulously designing onboard circuitry supporting software calibration to eradicate path and phone resistance. The onboard circuit has a secondary perform to make sure the secure operation of all devices deployed. Optimum throughput may very well be achieved by sustaining excessive gear effectivity by way of a really perfect check setting.
New energy devices with improved bandwidth, coupled with modern check strategies, assist to lengthen the contact pin lifespan by shortening pulse width and incorporating an ultra-efficient contact resistance examine earlier than every check execution. Rising the facility instrument’s bandwidth delivers quicker DI/DT, translating to shorter check occasions and the opportunity of growing website counts, leading to increased general throughput. Prolonging the contact pin lifespan additionally reduces consumables’ bills.
Boosting vitality effectivity with new supplies like GaN
As deep-learning AI turns into extra pervasive, the insatiable demand for computing energy will ensue and supporting energy administration semiconductors will expertise intense development. In the meantime, the carbon footprint from knowledge facilities is attracting consideration and regulatory insurance policies are being enacted to make sure knowledge facilities are geared up with energy-efficient gear. In 2019, knowledge facilities consumed about 2% of the world’s electrical energy, however this quantity is anticipated to rise to as much as 8% by 2030.
The effectivity of MOSFETs sometimes maxes out at 95%. To satisfy the rising vitality consumption of information facilities, new supplies and processes equivalent to gallium nitride (GaN) are being developed to deal with the shortcomings of conventional semiconductor supplies. With increased effectivity and switching frequencies, GaN energy provides ship extra energy than their silicon-based predecessors with an identical footprint. “Turbocharged” GaN energy provides delivering increased energy on an identical footprint might enhance general server density by as much as 56% on present racks.
Determine 4 The above desk compares materials properties of silicon and gallium nitride. Supply: Teradyne
Gallium nitride energy provides ship three advantages in comparison with silicon-based energy provides. First, present knowledge facilities can enhance their knowledge density. Second, extra environment friendly energy provides translate into decrease working prices. Lastly, the information middle can cut back its CO2 emissions as a part of the worldwide aim to attain net-zero emissions by the 12 months 2050.
The first trade problem with GaN transistors is the excessive dynamic on-resistance which is tough to measure when switched at required excessive frequencies. Prime check gear producers are working to develop the precision instrumentation required to ensure GaN RDSON specs. Quickly, GaN will exchange silicon as the popular materials expertise for delivering energy, however till GaN’s laborious switching dynamic on-resistance will be measured constantly and precisely, silicon-based processors will proceed to be utilized.
As demand for high-performance computing purposes, typically delivered as a service, will increase, semiconductor firms should rise to the problem to stay aggressive by adopting new applied sciences and processes. Advances in energy administration and new supplies like GaN will make sure the expertise is ready to sustain with the purposes driving it. Nonetheless, with these new applied sciences come a lot of challenges, each for manufacturing and check. These that may be nimble sufficient to adapt will discover success in these new and rising markets.
Aik-Moh Ng is a product supervisor for analog energy check merchandise at Teradyne.
Lauren Getz is a product supervisor for analog energy check merchandise at Teradyne.
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