CEOs address innovation at ITC

Anaheim, CA. CEOs of key test companies addressed International Test Conference attendees at a Monday evening panel in which they discussed entrepreneurship in the ATE industry. The CEOs included B. Bottoms of  3MTS, G. Erickson of Aehr Test Systems, D. Glotter of OptimalTest, B. Madsen of LitePoint, and M. Roos of Roos Instruments. E. Volkerink of Flextronics served as moderator.

Bottoms kicked off the discussion suggesting that the industry, with the conference convening at the Disneyland Hotel, is at the junction of fantasy land and tomorrow land. To attract funding, he said, entrepreneurs need to determine what smart money looks for. He suggested opportunities lie in new test paradigms involving 3-D ICs, systems in packages (SIPs), and biocircuits. And test must address the fact that transistors begin to wear out as soon as you turn them on. An investor has to believe, he concluded.

Erickson drew on his 23 years of experience in the ATE industry to conclude there is still room for innovation. Small teams drive innovation, he said. Glotter cited the value of test data: test has moved beyond pass/fail, he said, adding that test data is a goldmine. Madsen noted that an effective one-box test solution can replace multiple individual instruments like spectrum analyzers, for example, as well as the need for golden units and associated cables. If you are looking for funding, he said, don't talk test unless you tie it into a bigger story. Roos concluded the discussion by citing opportunities afforded by highly modular hardware and software. One opportunity, he said, lies in turning an engineering-centric tester into an appliance—something like a dishwasher—that anyone can use.

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