Wireless test trends for 2024

Wireless test trends for 2024

Interviews |
By Nick Flaherty

Martin Cotter,  Senior Vice President of the Industrial and Multi Markets Business Unit and President of Analog Devices EMEA  talks to Nick Flaherty about the wireless trends at Mobile World Congress 2024, from 5G at the industrial edge to 6G and test in semiconductor fabs and battery gigafactories.  

“Our world is the intelligent edge, so we anticipate 5G becoming part of industrial business but the needs of industrial are different, it has to be functionally safe and deterministic with low power,” says Cotter

“We are involved in the build out of 5G and we work closely on making 5G real for industrial but the roll out is slower,” he said.

One of the first main applications for 5G in the factor will be automated guided vehicles (AMR) that requires higher data rates and mobility.

“AMR is likely to be first real application use and for me this is the start of the wave of the factory becoming a more interesting place,” said Cotter. This has been highlighted by the ADI Catalyst Centre in Limerick that has development platforms for 5G wireless, robotics and AMR for customers to use.

“Why do you upgrade the network and controller in the factory? You do it because you want to measure more. That is the real interest is in upgrading of the factory. Germany Canada Brazil allocating defined bands for industrial and in Europe generally it feels like it will be more widespread and that’s part of what’s required.”

One of the arguments from Mobile World Congress is that there are only a few wireless test equipment companies with the scale to develop 6G test systems.

“Instrumentation is a key part of the business and every time there is a new semiconductor device you have to test the silicon, the sub system and the end system so with 6G we tend to see it earlier,” he said. “It’s still a number of years away, probably later in this decade, but a lot will be about sustainability and power efficiency, very efficient joules per bit and AI in the network,

“Where customers are going to be successful in 6G its a good thing to drive higher critical mass,” he said. “Of course you need to have competition but the bigger thing we are seeing is that it is the architecture and partitioning that is a big aspect in the success of the designs. I would go to power and that means re-partitioning. It hits us in multiple places, in electronic T&M, ATE for more channels, and the power required by these testers is huge. A tester for GPUs takes 30kW so driving 15 to 30% efficiency saving is a big deal, and HPC memory requirements more and faster tests with lower power.”

This is coming as the market is picking up, he says, and the investment in semiconductor fabs and battery gigafactories from the EU CHIPS Act is positive for the test business.

“We believe the demand picture is pretty good, and the silicon market will double from 2020 to 2030. Yes the economy has headwinds with the global economy and inventory correction but we are a long way through that,” he said. “I would more invest in the big trends, less people driving automation, sustainability, security with the cyber resiliency act requiring more network security.

“3 to 4% of every fab is semiconductor test so for us that is good business. Battery gigafactories will see yield increases through measurement upgrades, network upgrades, control upgrades and more optimisation which is great for us.”


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