Chip and component reliability testing firm QRT was developing new chip testing equipment with the aim to make the business a major source of revenue by 2025, TheElec has learned.
The company was aiming to sell its semiconductor soft error tester and 5G mmWave spectrum RF accelerated life tester, people familiar with the matter said. QRT is hoping to launch these kits in 2023, they added.
Soft error, as opposed to hardware malfunction, is caused by particles from outer space.
When these particles clash with a semiconductor, the nucleus of the silicon is shattered and becomes an alpha particle. Electron-hole pair generation occurs during this process, which causes operation that the device in question didn’t plan.
A 0 can turn into a 1, and vice versa. The acceleration problems in vehicles made by Toyota and Lexus during 2009 and 2010 were also caused by soft errors.
Standard ISO26262 includes articles that grade the safety level of automotive electronic devices by measuring how much soft error they are prone to.
Vendors must get a 10FITs(failure-in-time, 10FITs means 10 errors per 1 billion times) soft error rate to receive the Automotive Safety Integrity Level D, the highest safety grade there is.
QRT offers its soft error tester for this measurement. The company previously said it expects demand for these testers is expected to increase from small companies and conglomerates alike. QRT is part of multiple national projects to develop the testers and is aiming to commercialize them in 2023.
QRT is also collaborating with a South Korean chip giant for its 5G mmWave spectrum accelerated life tester. The tester tests RF chips, which is currently costly to test.
Meanwhile, QRT currently offers reliability and analysis testing services for chipmakers. It tests chips it receives from customers; these tests include life span, environmental, electric and mechanical stresses. Its analysis service analyzes the outer surface, electric characteristics, defects and material of chips.
Last year, QRT recorded 72 billion won in revenue and 16.5 billion won in operating income. It is aiming to secure equal earnings to this from its equipment business alone.
The company started as a team within Hyundai Electronics, now SK Hynix, in 1983. It eventually became a team within SK HyENG, a subsidiary of SK Hynix, but split off as a separate company in 2014. SK Hynix is its major customer.
QRT is currently being evaluated by financial authorities as it plans to go public within the first half of this year.