Japan’s Advantest says demand for AI drives memory tester industry

By Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Advantest said on Wednesday that growing demand for high-bandwidth memory (HBM) used for artificial intelligence (AI) tasks is boosting its memory tester business.

HBM, a type of high-performance memory in which chips are stacked to save space and reduce power consumption, is used when processing the large amount of data needed for AI tasks.

“Currently, HBM represents about 50% of our memory testing business and we expect that to continue in the near term,” CEO Douglas Lefever said in an interview.

Advantest, a maker of chip test equipment, has worked with HBM since its first production in 2013 and leverages its relationships with memory makers, Lefever said.

The OEM’s share of memory testers increased in the fiscal year ended March, and it expects 47% annual sales growth for the memory segment.

AI and the desire to improve chip performance are leading to increasingly complex component combinations, which require extensive testing to verify performance.

“It’s going to move the business away from the cloud, away from the data center … but what’s really going to drive things is the release of these cutting-edge applications,” said Lefever, who took the job in April.

Edge AI refers to running AI tasks on local devices rather than in centralized data centers.

The electronics industry, which has been hit by weak demand for smartphones, tablets and computers, hopes the adoption of AI features will encourage consumers to upgrade their devices.

“As these new devices come out, they have a lot of test content because they are more complex,” Lefever said.

(Reporting by Sam Nussey; editing by Christopher Cushing)

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