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In Vivo Skin Imaging Technology Developed to Aid in Early Diagnosis

 Advantest has developed a non-invasive method to achieve real-time 3D imaging of the vascular network and blood condition (oxygen saturation) of the living body, using a photoacoustic method to detect ultrasonic waves generated by laser irradiation. This method may be used for early diagnosis and monitoring of physical functions related to beauty and health.

As part of the “Innovative Visualization Technology to Lead to Creation of a New Growth Industry” project operated by Advantest’s Takayuki Yagi under the auspices of the Impulsing Paradigm Change through Disruptive Technologies Program (ImPACT), a program of Japan’s Council for Science, Technology and Innovation, an R&D group led by Professor Yoshifumi Saijo of Tohoku University and Noriyuki Masuda of Advantest has succeeded in developing in vivo skin imaging technology (1) that can simultaneously generate dual-wavelength photoacoustic images and ultrasound images.

Photoacoustic imaging is a method of imaging the interior of a living body by irradiating light into the body and measuring ultrasonic waves generated from blood or tissues that selectively absorb light energy. It is attracting interest as a new noninvasive imaging method suitable for measuring small blood vessels in the skin, which is difficult with conventional imaging techniques.

However, when using only photoacoustic imaging, even if microvessels in the skin measuring several tens of microns or less in diameter are imaged, it is impossible to ascertain which region of each layer in the skin they are in. In addition, it is possible to photoacoustically measure the oxygen saturation level of blood vessels (3) by using light sources of multiple wavelengths, but the movement of living bodies affects measurement results, so the use of this method has hitherto been limited to research applications such as animal experiments.

The newly developed in vivo imaging technology utilizes a focused ultrasonic sensor that can detect multiple ultrasonic signals. Thus, photoacoustic waves and ultrasonic waves can be measured with the same sensor, while signals are generated on two alternating wavelengths, allowing the detection of ultrasonic waves that image the microvascular network in the dermis as well as blood oxygen saturation (Fig. 1). A 6 mm square area of 2 mm depth can be imaged in about 4 minutes. Also, using the acquired data, mapping of oxygen saturation and the superposition of photoacoustic images and ultrasound images is possible.

Biopsy studies have proved that signs of skin aging such as spots and wrinkles are related to microvessels in the skin. The newly developed photoacoustic imaging method is expected to be used for monitoring of photoaging of the skin as well as other applications.

Figure 1: Example of forearm skin imaging.

Blue indicates lower oxygen saturation of blood vessels, red higher.

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The Duality of Machine Learning

By Judy Davies, Vice President of Global Marketing Communications, Advantest America

The term “binary,” with which we in the semiconductor industry are quite familiar, refers to more than the 1s and 0s found in binary code. It implies a balance, a duality that is present throughout the industry. This duality is found in our human makeup, as well. We use both intellect and feeling in living our lives, as we identify challenges and determine solutions.

If artificial intelligence and machine-learning systems are to truly think as humans do, it would seem that moving beyond purely digital computations will be essential. This means finding a way to teach machines to combine left-brained (analytical, data-based) with right-brained (intuitive, perception-based) thinking – i.e., the true duality of the human brain.

The work of John von Neumann has come to represent the left-brained approach. Beginning in the 1920s, von Neumann applied his genius in mathematics across a wide spectrum of projects. These included working on the Manhattan Project to construct the first atomic bomb; creating the landmark von Neumann architecture for digital computers that store both programs and data; and developing the field of game theory, which many high-stakes poker players use today to deduce future outcomes and win tens of millions of dollars.

The right-brained approach can also be described as emotional intellect. It represents more analog or interpretive thinking that takes into account human feelings and attempts to inform actions that are difficult to quantify. As an example, whereas von Neumann’s game theory is used to arrive at decisions through logical reasoning, poker players also gather information about their opponents by reading their body language and demeanor at the table. This is the right brain at work.

Neuromorphic computing involves making machines that more closely replicate the way the way the human brain works. Rather than being limited to solely digital processing, neuromorphic chips assimilate analog information, which is then interpreted for shades of meaning. This forges a path to creating neural networks that are aligned with how we think.

Already present in our lives is what can be viewed as a precursor to neuromorphic computing. When we visit an online retailer’s site, our interest in the products viewed and/or purchased is catalogued, grouped with the interests of other buyers, compared with those buyers’ previous purchases, and used to pitch us on buying other products that people within that demographic have bought. Pop-up ads, emails and texts claiming “You may also be interested in …” demonstrate how computing power is being applied to get into consumers’ heads and not just understand but influence their spending patterns.

Similarly, machine learning can be applied when it comes to guiding consumers’ future actions. Databases are being used both to predict our needs and to stock local inventories accordingly, ensuring that our local store or distributor will know as soon as we exhaust our supply of a particular item and will be able to offer same-day delivery of a replacement.

Factoring in product reviews from other members of our demographic group would allow retailers to draw high-probability conclusions about both our level of satisfaction with products we’re currently using and the likelihood that we may be willing to switch to a similar product from a different supplier. This educated guesswork will be based on “reading” your emotional decision-making processes. With this ability to predict future behavior, poker-player computers are assured continued dominance.

The state of the art in neuromorphic computing does not yet involve precisely predicting all of our next moves. The world of the Steven Spielberg movie “Minority Report” – in which savant-like “pre-cogs” can predict future crimes before they occur, enabling law enforcement to arrest criminals-to-be in advance – does not yet exist. But it’s intriguing to consider, and to wonder if we may actually get there at some point.

Would bringing the duality of digital processing and emotional intellect to fruition be highly beneficial, enabling digital assistants like Alexa and Siri to more accurately anticipate our desires? Or would it bring us a step closer to having our lives actually be run by the machines in our lives? One thing seems sure: If and when full-blown neuromorphic computing becomes a reality, it will definitely be put to use.

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VOICE 2018 Sets Records with Highest Number of Abstract Submissions from 13 Countries

Advantest’s VOICE 2018 Developer Conference returned to host cities of San Diego, CA, on May 15-16 and Hsinchu, Taiwan, on May 23, where successful VOICE events were held in 2016. The 2018 conference again set records, receiving 177 paper abstract submissions representing contributions from 13 countries. In addition to over 90 technical sessions, VOICE featured Partners’ Expos, highly rated keynote speakers, 25 technology kiosks, and multiple networking opportunities. Altogether, 565 people attended the events, greater than 60 percent of whom represented Advantest customers and partners.

The San Diego event registered 276 attendees, the most of any U.S. VOICE Conference, and included 66 technical presentations, while the Taiwan conference featured 25 papers. Greater than 50 percent of the total papers across both locations were either written or co-authored by customers from 27 companies. The papers were reviewed by a technical committee that included 30 Advantest customers from 14 companies.

With expanded in-app voting capabilities, attendees selected the best technical presentations and, for the first time, the best technology kiosk. At the U.S. event, Jonvyn Wongso from Microchip won best presentation for his paper “Port Scale RF with CTH: Sixteen Sites RF Testing of ZigBee Devices for an IoT Application.”  Ira Leventhal of Advantest was recognized for his kiosk, “Cost-Efficient and Smart System-Level Test for LTE/Cat-M/NB-IoT Devices.”

In Taiwan, Jeff Chen from Qualcomm accepted the best presentation award for his paper “Optimized Probe Tip Life Cycle at Wafer Probing by a New On-Demand Clean Methodology.” Advantest’s Kevin Fan won an award for his kiosk, “FVI16: Next-Generation Floating Power VI for the V93000 — An Instrument Introduction.”

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Advantest Logs 30th Consecutive Ranking as a 10 BEST Company in Annual VLSIresearch Customer Satisfaction Survey

Advantest has once again been named to VLSIresearch’s 10 BEST list, securing the company its 30th consecutive year as a top-rated semiconductor equipment supplier. Global customers also recognized Advantest as one of only three 5-Star companies in the Large Suppliers of Chip Making Equipment category. The survey, which received feedback from more than 94% of the chip market, rates equipment suppliers across 15 categories based on three key factors: supplier performance, customer service, and product performance.

In the 2018 survey, Advantest surpassed its score from 2017, achieving an overall score of above 9.0 for the fifth year in a row, and recording personal-best customer ratings in the areas of Recommended Supplier and Trust in Supplier.

Remaining a 10 BEST company every year for three decades is an honor and a testament to Advantest’s focus on engineering the world’s finest test solutions and delivering reliable service and innovative technologies.

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Advantest Goes “Beyond Smart” at SEMICON West 2018

Advantest returned to SEMICON West as an exhibitor and event sponsor from July 10-12, 2018 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California. For the first time, Advantest’s booth was located in the newly renovated South Hall alongside other large semiconductor companies.

In Booth 1105, Advantest displayed several new products, including the V93000 FVI16 floating power source and the T5503HS2 tester for ultra-high-speed memory ICs, which was named a SEMICON West “Best of the West” 2018 award finalist. Information was also available about the T2000 Integrated Power Device Test Solution (IPS) with two new modules for testing analog ICs for the hybrid/EV automotive market; the EVA100 measurement system; M4171 handler; Wave Scale generation test solutions; and the MPT3000 test solution for solid state-drives (SSD).

In addition to having a presence on the show floor, Advantest’s Kotaro Hasegawa, Senior Director of System Planning, presented two papers titled “Automotive IC Testing for Autonomous Cars” and “28GHz 5G RF Test Experiences” at Test Vision 2020: The Next Step to Intelligent Test.

And, on the evening of Wednesday, July 11, Advantest customers and industry acquaintances gathered for the Advantest hospitality event hosted at the vibrant 111 Minna Gallery located in the famous SoMa district of San Francisco. Over 200 attendees mingled and enjoyed live music by distinguished jazz and cabaret singer Paula West.

Throughout the conference, Advantest sponsored and participated in the first-ever SEMI High Tech U program held in conjunction with SEMICON West. This award-winning education program gives high school students the opportunity to explore the semiconductor industry and develop skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Advantest employees led modules, conducted mock interviews, and emceed the third day of the program.


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Q&A Interview with Sae Bum Myung

By GO SEMI & Beyond staff

In this issue, our Q&A subject is Sae Bum Myung, a corporate vice president and executive vice president of worldwide sales for Advantest Corporation. He joined the company in April 1989 and has served in a succession of leadership roles during his nearly three decades with Advantest. Mr. Myung obtained his master’s degree in engineering from Tokyo’s Meiji University in 1989.

Q. What trends are advances in semiconductor technology enabling, and for what key markets?

A. Unprecedented demand for semiconductor memories has led to the current industry “super cycle.” In turn, semiconductor technology innovations continue to create new growth opportunities in several areas, such as data centers and smart cars. As many are aware, leading market-research firms are forecasting that automotive electronics will be the fastest-growing segment for semiconductor applications over the next few years.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is another vital, new application enabled by advanced sensors, microprocessors and memory devices. The integration of these semiconductor functions is driving the synergistic growth of both AI and the Silicon Age.

Q. What are some additional trends you’re seeing for the year ahead?

A. Demand for liquid crystal and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels continues to be strong, as is demand for systems that can test high-performance logic ICs used for AI servers and cryptocurrency mining.

Q. How are these broadened market applications impacting test?

A. In addition to increased demand for both memory and automotive semiconductors, Advantest is working to boost sales of peripheral devices for semiconductor testing as well. We’ve also taken steps to increase production capacity in order to keep up with the steep increase in demand. As a result, total orders received in our fiscal year 2017 increased more than 50 percent over the prior fiscal year, and net sales increased nearly 33 percent year-over-year. Both showed their highest level of performance in 11 years, since fiscal 2006.

Q. Are you seeing growth in all regions of the world?

A. Amidst aggressive investment by non-Japanese chipmakers, Advantest’s proportion of sales outside Japan increased to 93.2 percent in fiscal 2017. Orders increased across the board in South Korea, Taiwan, China and other areas with sizable semiconductor product bases, including Southeast Asia.

Q. In this market environment, what else must a company like Advantest do to ensure customer needs continue to be met?

A. Customer support means more than simply increasing production levels to meet market demand. It also means working to create innovative, industry-leading solutions that advance the state of technology. It means delivering highly productive and cost-efficient test solutions. And it means providing around-the-clock technical service. Our close, collaborative customer relationships allow us to keep our finger on the pulse of the industry and ensure that we have their collective insights into the best practices for evaluating ICs as well as test technologies for the newest applications.

Q. Advantest recently achieved a customer-approval milestone, having been named to the 10BEST list in the annual VLSIresearch Customer Satisfaction Survey for 30 consecutive years. How has Advantest been able to consistently achieve a 5-star rating on this survey from its global customers?

A. By never taking our customers or their requirements for granted. Our relationships with our customers are symbiotic in nature – their business challenges become our challenges, as well. They want our assurance that the solutions they purchase from us are not mere quick fixes, but can deliver long-term results, with built-in ability to grow as their needs evolve. We are gratified that customers appreciate our efforts and take the time to say so when responding to the annual VLSIresearch survey.

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