The Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to drive demand for tens of billions of devices by 2020 and these IoT end nodes or “Smart Things” will integrate multiple functions, including sensors, microcontrollers and RF interfaces, each presenting unique test challenges which are continuously evolving. Peter Cockburn, Senior Product Manager Test Cell Innovation at Xcerra, highlighted in his presentation at the nmi R&D Workshop the technology trends for these Smart Things and described two case studies where test solutions have been developed for two examples of IoT “Smart Things”: RF SOCs and MEMS sensors, where flexibility and low cost of test are key requirements.
For anyone following the hottest trends in technology it is clear that we are experiencing what could be the next major growth wave to follow the age of the smartphone. This wave is being driven by the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT in its simplest definition is the proliferation of interconnected, embedded and sensing intelligence in all areas of our life. Several major semiconductor companies have created new product groups focused on designing devices for this market and with projections of a trillion distributed sensors within a decade it is easy to see why. There are varying estimates of exactly how large the number of sensors will get or how quickly this growth will occur, but all reasonable projections suggest that the growth will dwarf consumer smartphone volumes and severely stress manufacturing supply chains. This growth coming in parallel with other trends in innovative packaging and assembly, drives the need to take a holistic view of semiconductor test and the manufacturing process. In this article we will look at some of the general impacts, subsequent articles will drill down into specific real world solutions.