5 Challenges of Wideband 5G Device Test
Designers and test engineers working on wideband 5G devices require accurate, fast, and cost-effective test solutions to ensure the reliability of new chip designs. Learn about the top test challenges and solutions for wideband 5G IC test.
5G New Radio includes two different types of waveforms:
Researchers and engineers working on 5G device test have the new challenges of creating, distributing, and generating 5G waveforms among their design and test benches. Engineers need to work with highly complex, standard-compliant uplink and downlink signals that have larger bandwidths than ever before. They include a variety of different resource allocations; modulation and coding sets; demodulation, sounding, and phase-tracking information; and single-carrier and contiguous and non-contiguous carrier-aggregated configurations.
Select a 5G standard-compliant toolset that allows you to generate, analyze, and share these waveforms between test benches to fully characterize your DUTs.
Although RF engineers have been working with specialized and expensive test systems for mmWave in industries such as aerospace and military, this represents unexplored territory for the mass-market semiconductor industry. Engineers need cost-effective test equipment to configure more test benches for a shorter time to market. These new benches must support high linearity; tight amplitude and phase accuracy over large bandwidths; low phase noise; extensive frequency coverage for multiband devices; and the ability to test for coexistence with other wireless standards. Along with powerful hardware, modular, software-based test and measurement benches will be able to adapt rapidly to new test requirements.
Invest in a wideband test platform that can evaluate performance in both existing and new frequency bands. Select instrumentation that not only supports coexistence with current standards but also adapts to the evolution of the standard over time.
Working with wide signals below 6 GHz and at mmWave frequencies requires characterizing and validating greater performance out of RF communications components. Engineers must not only test innovative designs for multiband power amplifiers, low-noise amplifiers, duplexers, mixers, and filters but also ensure that new and improved RF signal chains support simultaneous operation of 4G and 5G technologies. Additionally, to overcome significant propagation losses, mmWave 5G requires beamforming subsystems and antenna arrays, which demand fast and reliable multiport test solutions.
Ensure your test systems can handle both multiband and multichannel 5G devices to address beamformers, FEMs, and transceivers.
Engineers working on 5G beamforming devices face the challenge of characterizing the transmit and receive paths and improving the reciprocity for TX and RX. For example, as the transmit power amplifier goes into compression, it introduces amplitude, phase shifts, and other thermal effects that the LNA in the receiver path would not produce. Additionally, the tolerances of phase shifters, variable attenuators, gain control amplifiers, and other devices could cause unequal phase shifts between channels, which affects the anticipated beam patterns. Measuring these effects requires over-the-air (OTA) test procedures that make traditional measurements like TxP, EVM, ACLR, and sensitivity spatially dependent.
Use OTA test techniques that synchronize fast and precise motion control and RF measurements to more accurately characterize 5G beamforming systems without exceeding your test time budget.
New 5G applications and industry verticals will exponentially increase the number of 5G components and devices that manufacturers need to produce per year. Manufacturers are challenged by the need to provide quick ways to calibrate the multiple RF paths and antenna configurations of new devices and accelerate the OTA solutions for reliable and repeatable manufacturing test results. However, for volume production of RFICs, traditional RF chambers can take up much of the production floor space, disrupt material handling flows, and multiply capital expenses. To tackle these problems, OTA-capable IC sockets—small RF enclosures with an integrated antenna—are now commercially available. These provide semiconductor OTA test functionality in a reduced form factor.
Select an ATE platform that extends lab-grade 5G instrumentation to the production floor to simplify the correlation of characterization and production test data.
Technical White Paper
Engineer’s Guide to 5G Semiconductor Test
Wideband 5G IC test is complex. The Engineer’s Guide to 5G Semiconductor Test is here to help. A must-read for anyone navigating the time, cost, and quality trade-offs of sub-6 GHz and mmWave IC test, the guide features color diagrams, recommended test procedures, and tips for avoiding common mistakes.
Learn about the new test interfaces for wideband 5G mmWave devices and see how to work with and test them.
Explore sub-mmWave test solutions that provide engineers a faster and more flexible approach to reduce development and test costs.