Tag Archives: MEMS Switches

New MEMS Switches Accelerate Testing

If you are using processor ICs from Advanced Digital, testing them may be costly and logistically challenging. This is because testing these ICs requires isolated DC parametric test equipment, including high-speed digital ATE or automatic testing equipment to assuring the quality. New MEMS switch technology from ADI, working at 34 GHz, offers both DC and high-speed digital testing, despite having a small form factor in the form of a 5x4x0.9 mm LGA package. They reduce the test costs and simplify the logistics necessary for testing RF/digital SoCs or systems on chips.

There are many high-speed chips on the market. These include high-density inter-chip communications for advanced processors. Such advanced processors are the norm for 5G modems, computer graphics systems, and other central processing units. Therefore, ATE designers constantly face the increase in demand and complexity for throughput while assuring quality. For instance, the greatest challenge comes from the increasing number of transmitter/receiver channels, and these require both DC parametric and high-speed digital testing. Not only does this increase the testing time, but it also increases the complexity of the load board, while reducing the test throughput. In turn, this drives up operational expenses, while reducing the productivity of modern ATE environments.

One way of solving such ATE challenges requires a switch that not only operates at DC conditions but also at high frequencies. The new MEMS switch ADGM1001 from ADI, while passing true 0 Hz DC signals, can also operate equally effectively at high-speed signals up to 64 Gbps. Therefore, testing with these new switches requires only one insertion for an efficient single test platform. It is possible to configure the test platform for both DC parameter testing and standards for high-speed digital communications.

High-volume manufacturing requiring HSIO or high-speed input-output testing is often a challenge. Testing strategies typically employ a high-speed test architecture as a common approach for validating HSIO interfaces. Such test equipment typically incorporates two test paths in one configuration—one for DC tests, and the other for high-speed tests.

Testers employ a few methods for performing tests at both DC and high speed on HSIOs or digital SoCs. They may use relays, MEMS switches, or different load boards—one for DC testing, and the other for high-speed testing, but this requires two insertions.

Use of relays for DC and high-speed testing can be challenging. This is primarily due to relays being unable to operate beyond 8 GHz. Therefore, users must compromise on test coverage and signal speed. Moreover, relays take up large areas on PCBs on account of their larger size, and this makes the load boards rather large. Another concern with relays is their limited life and reliability. Relays typically only last for about 10 million cycles, thereby limiting the lifetime and system uptime of the load board.

With its superior density and small form factor, the 34 GHz MEMS switch from ADI offers both DC testing and high-speed digital testing capabilities, overcoming the above challenges.