• No Company is an Island – CES 2017 (1/13/2017) by David Park - Almost 400 years ago, John Donne penned the phrase, “No man is an island, entire of itself…” – words that continue to resonate today. Few would disagree on the need for collaboration, but humans as well as companies can often behave as if it is otherwise. Industry promotions often imply customers need look no further beyond a single entity. The reality is that no company is an island, nor is any solution for that matter; effective solutions and systems (especially in the electronics market segment) do not operate in a vacuum and success is often accomplished by providing a distinctive capability that betters the whole while seamlessly integrating existing technologies. The disruptive innovation from the external “ecosystem” must contribute a distinct new value, a depth of capability and ultimately prove to be a reliable addition. A quality ecosystem contribution is much more than a list of useful add-on features; its success is grounded in trusted partnerships and technologies that are established and developed to further specific customer advancements. This need for successful ecosystems is particularly acute with the current challenges posed by global integration, complex electronic devices and the Internet of Things (IoT). The depth and breadth of these challenges command an ecosystem-rich environment to bring powerful solutions together in this hyper-connected world. At CES 2017, by inviting Optimal+ to present and explore new possibilities with its Watson™ IoT Platform, IBM is driving the development of innovative, more customer-centric solutions by leveraging ecosystem partnerships. The synergy between the two solutions is clear. The focus of Optimal+ is advanced product analytics and is complemented by IBM’s powerful Watson IoT Platform solution which delivers rich, in-use data from electronic systems. By combining two powerful industry solutions, our customers have a solution that gives them full visibility and control of a product’s quality from inception to end-of-life. We appreciated our opportunity to work with IBM at CES 2017. We will continue to partner with leaders in the industry as it is clear from our customers’ perspective that no innovative company can be an island. To view our presentation from CES 2017 click here
  • Going where no one has gone before… (12/11/2016) by David Park - It is perhaps a bit early for the “final frontier” in big data. But there are frontier elements of exploration and discovery that are often hard to articulate in a practical manner amidst the hyperbolic big data claims in the industry. As with other “leading-edge” predictions, a concrete example that provides the contrast of what was before and what will be, often helps clarify the intangible new technology’s promise. With 20-20 hindsight, countless examples of technology innovations have provided a window into future discoveries, heralding the transition from vacuum tubes to solid-state transistors and “dial-in” to Wi-Fi. Each invention brings a range of new advantages and perspectives in productivity, time saved, and cost reductions. Big data solutions have realized many of their transformative promises with many more to come, particularly with the advent of the IIoT.  Our customers in the semiconductor and electronics industries are discovering new benefits daily.  With the aggregation of clean data in a single view across a company’s global supply chain, queries are no longer restricted to reporting what is already known, but are now capable of identifying and discovering the proverbial “needle in the haystack” from data sourced from hundreds of thousands of tests. As critical discoveries are revealed, the organization can implement new rules or processes to improve manufacturing operations. Our CTO, Michael Schuldenfrei, has developed a series of brief videos to highlight examples of big data’s impact on production operations. The most recent video takes a look at using EXACT to manage test data for analysis.
  • NPI for Semiconductor Characterization (11/3/2016) by David Park - The unrelenting pressure for semiconductor manufacturers to get a high quality, competitively priced product tested and to market on time is a continual reality. It is not a static scenario; the need to innovate and update processes is constantly ongoing due to device proliferation and market innovation. Device characterization is an area of process and product innovation where the ability to collect and manage large amounts of data can directly shorten a device’s time to market. Characterization is normally performed on relatively few devices, but each individual device can be tested tens or hundreds of times per part, which creates an opportunity to use a big data solution to source, manage and analyze this aggregated data more effectively. Fortunately, big data solutions are inherently more efficient in overcoming the painstaking challenge of frequent and manual characterization testing, but these solutions need to extend beyond pure automation benefits – they must also facilitate enterprise-wide collaboration via a shared, transparent, centralized data set. This focus on shared, clean data enables full visibility throughout the organization, resulting in greater characterization precision for future products. In a recent video, Optimal+ CTO Michael Schuldenfrei highlights how the Optimal+ NPI solution more efficiently collects and manages large volumes of data generated through characterization testing, and specifically, how it directly expedites the semiconductor characterization process for IDMs and Fab companies. This short video reviews:  Expediting data collection and cleansing Using the “Sandbox” to extract, transform and load raw characterization data Data management Establishing a centralized data set hub for data collection, management, storing and analysis To learn more about how big data analytics is speeding up the semiconductor characterization process, check out this video  
  • Improving the semiconductor industry through advanced analytics (10/30/2016) by David Park - Recently, an article from global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, “Improving the semiconductor industry through advanced analytics,” highlighted the benefits and adoption level of advanced analytics in the semiconductor industry – a subject we and our customers are intimately familiar with. McKinsey observes that the adoption level is low for the industry considering its clear benefits, and cites numerous functional area examples to show what’s being left on the table when semiconductor manufacturers don’t employ advanced analytics. We recommend reading the article (link follows below), but we thought it worthwhile to explore some major aspects of the article that we consider important based on our customers’ experience.   The analytics evolution   The unprecedented capacity to source and parse large amounts of data has resulted in an explosion of analytics methodologies. However, data analysis without a clear end goal or specific purpose can easily fall into the category of “interesting” observations, and have no viable impact on an enterprise. According to the aforementioned McKinsey report, the semiconductor industry is not realizing the benefits of what they term “advanced analytics.”   The addition of the term “advanced” preceding “analytics” is more transformative than the term implies; it isn’t simply a higher level of analytics. Based on a comparison of Gartner’s IT Glossary’s definitions of the terms – “analytics” and “advanced analytics,” a notable difference emerges between the two approaches. Advanced analytics “typically beyond those of traditional business intelligence (BI)… discover deeper insights, make predictions, or generate recommendations.”   Advanced analytics combined with big data aggregation capabilities brings decision-making to the realm of real-time and into the future – not just an assessment of the past, but a continuum of past, present and future toward specific business improvement goals.   Gleaning information from data abundance   Semiconductor manufacturers have a successful history of using systems to gather critical data during production, test and post-production. This abundance of in-line, post-line and metrology data analysis has proven to be useful for decision-making, but despite its accuracy, relevance and volume, it may not be enough. Again, according to McKinsey’s report, few companies “combine and […]
  • IoT Solutions World Congress (IoTSWC16) Kicks Off Next Week (10/20/2016) by David Park - The 2nd Annual IoT Solutions World Congress (IoTSWC16) begins next Tuesday, Oct. 25 and boasts some of the world’s most influential IoT companies as attendees. More than 8,000 attendees from around the globe will come to IoTSWC16 to learn about the latest IoT solutions trends in six dedicated areas: manufacturing, healthcare, energy and utilities, transportation and logistics, as well as innovation and technology.  The conference is held in partnership with the Industrial Internet Consortium founded by AT&T, Cisco, General Electric, IBM and Intel.  The goal of the show and consortium is to accelerate the growth, adoption and widespread use of Industrial IoT. Optimal+ is attending for the first time and exhibiting at Booth #501. In addition to demonstrating our electronics and semiconductor big data solutions, our CTO Michael Schuldenfrei will deliver his presentation, “Aiming for zero DPPM in automotive electronics,” on Thursday, Oct. 27 from 5:45-6:30 pm CET.   Attendees will hear how big data product analytics are being used today by leading automotive suppliers to improve the quality and reliability of the semiconductors and electronic systems responsible for many critical vehicle operations. If you’re attending IoTSWC16, please visit us at Booth #501 and attend our CTO’s session at the show.  Click here for the full IoTSWC16 agenda.
  • Smarter Big Data Analytics for Distributed Semiconductor High Volume Manufacturing (Video) (9/28/2016) by David Park - Semiconductor companies are racing to compete in the highly competitive IoT era, developing products that will collect and transmit sensor data between objects, animals and people for countless applications.  From a manufacturing perspective, these companies must also excel in the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) by aggregating and analyzing terabytes of data to continually improve product yield, quality and productivity.  However, many companies do not have the internal expertise to collect, let alone analyze the billions of data points that are generated from manufacturing operations quickly enough to make impactful decisions. In his latest video, Optimal+ CTO Michael Schuldenfrei discusses how semiconductor companies can use big data analytics’ ability to collect and share large amounts of test data across multiple test environments significantly improving quality while simultaneously lowering the cost of test. Michael highlights ways to improve quality while reducing the cost of tests through combining the global data infrastructure with the Optimal+ Exact platform.  These highlights include: Using Data Feed Forward to share data across multiple test silos and enable product engineers to make more informed decisions on a given device Collecting data across all operations to find patterns Identifying relationships across test environments and using this data to identify algorithms to detect outliers and improve yield, quality and productivity Combining data across different geographies to create an adaptive test environment To learn more about how big data analytics are impacting high volume manufacturing operations, check out Michael’s complete video on YouTube.
  • Bringing Quality to Electronics Manufacturing (8/2/2016) by David Park - Since our founding, our core mission has been to improve the quality of the semiconductor chip by using in-depth information to better identify problems and to provide insights into global manufacturing operations. After all, the semiconductor is a core element of the electronics’ platform, and its distributed global manufacturing process significantly benefits from information that enables real-time and centralized decision making. In 2015 alone, we analyzed over 35 billion semiconductor chips, enabling our customers to increase quality, improve yield and ultimately increase return on investment. At this stage in the journey, it has become clear that not only are we able to take the next logical step toward quality management for electronics platforms, but the timing is absolutely essential for our customers to have a reliable, tested solution. The forecast numbers may vary, but are universally consistent in predicting growth in electronics. Here are just a couple of examples: 75.4B devices connected to the IoT by 2025 – IHS 2016 21B connected “things” by 2020 – Gartner 2015 Clearly, the development, design, manufacture and deployment of electronics platforms fueled by the IoT alone will be massive and imminent. Everything from smartphones, tablets, PCs, TVs to base stations will be connected, which will enable a rich world of end-user functionality and flexibility, but also will introduce an associated risk of scalable quality management for manufacturers. Optimal+ has the experience and now the big data solution to help electronics OEMs address the challenge of ensuring the quality of their end-products. This week we announced Global Ops for Electronics, which will enhance, certify and monitor the quality of electronics for the lifetime of the products. We are excited to announce this first-in-the-industry solution to customers that provides end-to-end data collection, data governance and advanced analytics capabilities. NVIDIA collaborated with Optimal+ on the design of the Global Ops for Electronics solution and is now using it to gain better visibility into its electronics manufacturing process. We also welcome Shykeh Gordon, our vice president and general manager of the new Electronics Business Unit. Shykeh brings over 25 years of high-tech experience to help our customers […]
  • Optimal+ Welcomes New Customer Renesas and Hosts 7th Annual SEMICON West Customer Event. (7/13/2016) by David Park - SEMICON West is one of our favorite events.  The event provides an opportunity to connect with our customers, learn more about our industry and share our knowledge with the semiconductor community.  In addition to exhibiting at SEMICON West, Moscone Center, North Hall #6472, we’re hosting our 7th annual customer SEMICON West event at the St. Regis Hotel today. We enjoy hosting our customers and are very pleased to welcome our newest customer, Renesas Electronics.   We announced our agreement with Renesas this week. Optimal+ will help Renesas enhance their global manufacturing operations to maximize equipment utilization and efficiency while delivering the highest quality products to their customers. More specifically, Optimal+ will help Renesas Electronics improve product yield, throughput and quality through our ability to deliver faster time-to-date and through our state-of-the-art automated rules capability. In addition to our outstanding customer news, Optimal+ VP of Marketing David Park will present during the SEMICON West Smart Manufacturing session on Thursday, July 14 from 2:00-4:00 pm along with Optimal+ customer Qualcomm.  David’s session is titled, “The Impact of Big Data Analytics in the Quest to Realize “Defective Parts Per Billion.”  If you’re attending the show, be sure to register for Qualcomm’s Mike Campbell’s or David’s session here. We’re excited with everything going on at SEMICON West 2016.  If you’re attending the show, stop by to visit us at Booth #6472 to learn more about how our big data analytics solutions can help your company. While at our booth you can also get an invitation to our customer event on Wednesday night.  
  • Is Big Data The Answer To The Electronics Counterfeiting Problem? (6/8/2016) by David Park - Optimal+ CTO Michael Schuldenfrei spoke at the IEEE International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security & Trust (HOST) in May to discuss the widespread counterfeiting problem in the electronics industry.  Counterfeiting robs IT manufacturers of up to $5 billion in lost profits according to Industry research from KPMG and the Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement (AGMA).  The gray market, or the import or sale of goods by unauthorized dealers, continues to grow because of overorders within the supply chain, simple theft and a lack of solid accountability within the supply chain. Here’s some of the ways real-time big data solutions can reduce the prolific counterfeiting problems in the industry: Greatly enhance the traceability of devices within the supply chain. Capture and track the DNA of every chip and have a record of that chip that dates back to its origin without additional logic or hardware being added to the device. Improve the overall electronics supply chain’s integrity and security by connecting CMs to OEMs through the collection and storage of chip IDs and the “test fingerprint DNA” data from billions of chips. To read Michael Schuldenfrei’s full article, visit EBN or to read more on how the big data industry is well positioned to address counterfeiting concerns, visit FierceBigData.  
  • Xilinx Selects Optimal+ For Real-Time Analytics for Wafer Sort and Final Test Manufacturing Operations (5/31/2016) by David Park - We’re pleased to announce our recent agreement with Xilinx, the world’s leading provider of all programmable FPGAs, SoCs, MPSOCs and 3D ICs.  Xilinx is enabling the next generation of smarter, connected and differentiated systems and networks.   By deploying the Optimal+ Global Ops solution, Xilinx will gain real-time visibility into all production test operations taking place in the company’s global supply chain. “At Xilinx, we develop many high-end devices that are used to drive numerous mission-critical functions in the networking, mil-aero and automotive market segments. Quality is a critical aspect to our business,” said Vincent Tong, senior vice president, Global Operations and Quality at Xilinx. “With the real-time visibility of our test operations provided by Optimal+ we are able to monitor every critical parameter in our test environment to ensure that every product is of the highest quality and performs as expected.” We’re looking forward to working with Xilinx to streamline their test operations. For more information on our announcement, click here.