Categories Earnings Call Transcripts, Technology

Aehr Test Systems (AEHR) Q1 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

AEHR Earnings Call - Final Transcript

Aehr Test Systems (NASDAQ: AEHR) Q1 2023 earnings call dated Oct. 06, 2022

Corporate Participants:

Todd Kehrli — Investor Relations

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Ken Spink — Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer


Christian Schwab — Craig-Hallum Capital Group — Analyst

Bradford Ferguson — Halter Ferguson Financial — Analyst

Gregory Ratliff — Nobis Partners — Analyst

Matthew Winthrop — Equitable — Analyst

Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst



Hello, and welcome to the Aehr Test Systems Fiscal 2023 First Quarter Financial Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Please note, this event is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Todd Kehrli of MKR Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Todd Kehrli — Investor Relations

Thank you, operator. Good afternoon, and welcome to Aehr Test Systems first quarter fiscal 2023 financial results conference call. With me on today’s call are Aehr Test President and Chief Executive Officer, Gayn Erickson; and Chief Financial Officer, Ken Spink. Before I turn the call over to Gayn and Ken, I’d like to cover a few quick items.

This afternoon, Aehr Test issued a press release announcing its first quarter financial results, that release is available on the Company’s website at This call is being broadcast live over the Internet for all interested parties, and the webcast will be archived on the Investor Relations page of the Company’s website.

I’d like to remind everyone that on today’s call, management will be making forward-looking statements that are based on current information and estimates and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements, which may cause the results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are discussed in the Company’s most recent periodic and current reports filed with the SEC. These forward-looking statements, including the guidance provided today are only valid as of this date, and Aehr Test undertakes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements.

Now I’d like to turn the call over to Gayn Erickson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aehr Test. Gayn?

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Todd. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you to — for joining us on the first quarter conference call. Let’s start with a quick summary of the highlights of the quarter and momentum we’re experiencing in the semiconductor wafer level test and burn-in market; and then Ken will go over the financials in detail. After that, we’ll open up the lines to take your questions.

We’re off to a good start this year, finishing the quarter with revenue and net income ahead of consensus estimates and strong bookings of $19.1 million. Revenue for the quarter was $10.7 million, which is up 89% year-over-year, and we generated non-GAAP net income of $1.3 million. As we’ve noted before and discussed last quarter, over the last couple of years, our first quarter tends to be our seasonally softest quarter, as it was again this year, and we expect each consecutive quarter to ramp higher throughout the year.

So let me get right to it and talk about how we’re doing and getting into more accounts, focused on silicon carbide for electric vehicles in other markets, and that’s where a lot of the questions are coming in at. We’re currently engaged or in discussions with almost all the existing and future silicon carbide suppliers now regarding our unique low-cost multi-wafer level test and burn-in solution that enables contact to and test of 100% of devices on every wafer. This allows our customers to burn-in every device at a lower cost than they could in any other form due to our ability to contact thousands of devices on each of 18 wafers at a time with our FOX-XP multi-wafer test and burn-in system and proprietary FOX full wafer contact WaferPaks.

All these major silicon carbide companies expect that electric vehicle traction inverters will move to multi-chip modules, as this is where the electric vehicle manufacturers are driving the industry. As such, they’ve told us they must move to wafer level stress and burn-in to remove the inherent failures before they put these devices into multi-die modules to meet the cost yield and reliability goals of those modules. Aehr’s technology provides a total turnkey single vendor solution to meet these customers’ critical test and stress requirements at a cost and test floor footprint significantly lower than any other alternative on the market.

Our lead customer for silicon carbide wafer level burn-in continues to ramp up use of our FOX-XP multi-wafer systems and WaferPaks, placing yet another significant order with us during the quarter. Similar to past orders, they purchased the systems without the necessary WaferPak full wafer contactors and as such, we expect significant orders from them for WaferPaks to match these systems.

This need for additional capacity is being driven by increased demand for silicon carbide customers for electric vehicles. This customer recently announced that they expect their growth rate to accelerate faster than previously forecasted, and they continue to forecast orders for a significant number of FOX systems and WaferPak contactors with us over the next several years.

Beyond this lead customer, our previously announced benchmarks and evaluations with two additional major silicon carbide semiconductor suppliers continuing to move forward with great progress this quarter. Following the end of the quarter, we announced an initial purchase order from one of these suppliers for our FOX-NP multi-wafer test and burn-in system, multiple WaferPak contactors, and a FOX WaferPak Aligner to be used for qualification of our wafer level burn-in solution for silicon carbide devices for electric vehicles and other markets.

This new customer is one of the world’s largest suppliers of silicon carbide devices serving several significant markets, including the electric vehicle industry. We now have 2 of the top 4 silicon carbide market participants as customers. We’ve already shipped the system to this new customer’s facility, and we believe we’ll achieve their specific performance and functionality evaluation criteria on their test floor during the next three months to six months.

This new customer indicated to us that Aehr Test is the only provider that has a product that is scalable to high-volume production to meet the production capacity they need to address the increasing demand for silicon carbide devices. They have provided us with forecasts for our FOX-XP systems for volume production of their silicon carbide devices at multiple facilities around the world. And we expect that they will purchase FOX-XP production systems to be shipped before the end of our fiscal year ending May 31st, 2023.

The benchmark with the other potential customer, which candidly has been slow and steady over the last year, has also progressed significantly since last quarter’s conference call. We completed a significant milestone using the new capability we publicly announced today, and I’ll discuss later, where we tested a significant number of wafers for a correlation of an automotive device, and we believe that we will successfully complete their production correlation over the next few months, allowing them to also move forward with our FOX solution.

With both of these major silicon carbide suppliers — I’m sorry, let me try. We expect both of these major silicon carbide suppliers to implement our FOX platform solution into their volume manufacturing production flow, as they look to capitalize on the fast-growing demand for silicon carbide devices and electric vehicles.

FOX [Phonetic] demand is building for wafer level burn-in of silicon carbide devices and specifically for traction inverters and onboard and offboard chargers for electric vehicles. During the last few months, multiple additional silicon carbide suppliers have asked us to provide technical feasibility, quotations and schedules for production test and burn-in of their wafers. While some of these companies want to do on-wafer validation of our solutions before they place orders for systems from us, others are planning to move directly to purchasing our FOX systems and/or WaferPaks to accelerate their time to market.

An example of this is just a few days ago, we received orders for WaferPaks on two designs from a brand-new customer for silicon carbide MOSFETs targeted electric vehicles. This multi-billion dollar semiconductor company that is already making silicon carbide MOSFET wafers that we have in house, by the way, they have not even gone public with their silicon carbide MOSFET introduction plans.

The silicon carbide market for electric vehicles and its supporting infrastructure requirements are growing at a tremendous rate. With Canaccord Genuity estimated that wafer capacity will increase from 125,000 6-inch wafers in 2021 to over 4 million 6-inch equivalent wafers in 2030 just to meet the EV market alone. Add in the other applications for silicon carbide, including solar power conversion, industrial and other electrification infrastructure and the market size doubles.

This past month, Vernon Rogers, our EVP of Sales and Marketing, and I met face-to-face with multiple potential customers at their facilities in both the U.S. and Europe and are very encouraged about our prospects for winning this capacity with these prospective customers. We also had very productive meetings around our participation in two important industry conferences in Europe.

Vernon attended this year’s international conference on silicon carbide and related materials known as ICSCRM in Davos, Switzerland, considered to be the most important technical conference series on silicon carbide and related materials. He and I also attended the EU Power Semiconductor Executive Summit in Munich, where I gave a presentation on Aehr and the impact of wafer level burn-in on reliability and stability of silicon carbide devices to a large audience of power semiconductor industry leaders, as well as automotive and other users of silicon carbide power semiconductors from around the globe.

From our many discussions and introductions of these events, two themes were very important. Number one, it’s clear, there’s a continued momentum in silicon carbide. In fact, there seems to be an acceleration of the expected adoption rate as well as an increase in the expected growth in electric vehicles.

Several silicon carbide and electric vehicle companies are now saying electric vehicles are more likely to account for 50% of all vehicles made in 2030, as opposed to the 30% number we’ve been stating.

In fact, VW Group, the first or second largest automotive supplier in the world depend on the year, along with Toyota, said in a presentation that they expect electric vehicles to comprise 50% of all their vehicles sold by 2030. I guess, I should say, in 2030.

The number two theme is there’s an increasing consensus that not only do you need to do 100% burn-in of silicon carbide devices that go into the automotive space and other mission-critical applications, but that burn-in of the die must be done at wafer level before they’re put into the modules for the traction inverters in particular, for electric vehicles.

In my presentation at the EU Summit, I noted that in addition to the obvious cost advantage of removing device failures before they’re put into a module with many other devices, companies also want to stabilize the inherent early life drift of threshold voltages observed in silicon carbide MOSFETs and then select devices with matching threshold voltages to put into multi-chip modules.

Higher than acceptable infant mortality rates of silicon carbide MOSFETs require 100% production stress and burn-in testing to achieve automotive and industrial quality levels. And the value and requirement for doing stabilization of the devices goes beyond just infant mortality to include critical parametric — parameters such as the threshold voltage.

With the transition from discrete silicon carbide components to multiple silicon carbide die modules or integrated power modules, the gate threshold voltage stability is critical to the module reliability driven by the prerequisite to have matching and stable gate voltage threshold die-to-die. Aehr’s technologies and capabilities enable gate threshold stability and reliability at the wafer level.

Module manufacturers are requesting and, in fact, requiring devices with matching threshold voltage or total on resistance between the drain and source in the MOSFET. The major silicon carbide companies expect that most EV traction inverters will move to multi-chip modules and have told us they must move to wafer level stress and burn-in to remove the inherent failures before they put the devices into multi-die modules to meet their cost yield and reliability goals.

Aehr’s unique low-cost multi-wafer level test and burn-in solution provides the test electronics and the device contactor technology that enables contact to 100% of devices on a single wafer and the handling and alignment equipment to provide a total turnkey single vendor solution to meet the needed critical test and stress requirements. We believe we’ll have multiple more customer wins in silicon carbide for our solutions this fiscal year.

In addition to our progress with silicon carbide applications, we’re seeing an increase in our wafer level burn-in business for silicon photonics devices used in data communications. We shipped multiple FOX-NP systems this quarter to support the characterization and product qualification of new photonics-based devices. We’ve also received multiple orders for upgrades to existing systems that enable a higher number of devices and higher power wafer — per wafer, as well as multiple new designs for WaferPaks from several companies. We expect these will be first ordered for engineering and new product introduction, and then they turn to volume production with higher quantity orders.

As I’ve noted before, we expect to see a nice recovery in the silicon photonics market segment sometime over this in the next year, as we’re being told by our customers. We’re expecting customers to resume buying in the current fiscal year 2023 and fiscal 2024 and several customers addressing the silicon photonics market have forecast additional FOX systems and WaferPak or DiePak contacted capacity needs during that time.

So let me spend a minute on our R&D investments. On our last earnings call, I mentioned several test system enhancements we plan to introduce that will extend the capabilities of our FOX-P wafer level test and burn-in platform. Today, we formally announced two new advanced test and burn-in capabilities that enable silicon carbide and gallium nitride semiconductor manufacturers more flexibility to address a wider variety of stress and burn-in conditions for the engineering qualification and production needs.

These include our FOX bipolar voltage channel module, or BVCM, which provides customers a wide range of bipolar voltage programmability from positive 40 volts to negative 30 volts applied to the gate for positive high-temperature gate bias or negative HTGB. This solution in combination with our proprietary WaferPak full wafer contactors delivers a unique capability benefiting power silicon carbide diodes and MOSFETs in both E-mode, D-mode gallium nitride power MOSFET manufacturers. Enabling this test is essential in threshold voltage and gate oxide stabilization and screening and the new BVCM extends our current capability even farther.

The other enhancement is our very high voltage channel module or VHVCM that enables customers to perform high-temperature reverse bias testing on wafers of up to 2,000 volts on MOSFETs and diodes and measure individual device leakage current. Aehr’s proprietary WaferPak contactor, implements arcing mitigation technology to alleviate high-voltage arcing on the wafer, especially with fine-pitch die-to-die geometries.

The modularity of the FOX-P system offers customers the ability to configure solutions to provide advanced test capabilities for their power electronic device wafers. These advanced capabilities are designed to enable manufacturers to ship product with higher reliability and parametric stability necessitated by an EV traction inverters and onboard chargers.

Feedback from current and potential new customers has been very positive, and we’ve already taken orders for both systems and WaferPak for those — for these new options that we discussed with customers under non-disclosure agreements. This includes the new major silicon carbide customer announced last month and the brand new customer I just mentioned, who ordered multiple WaferPaks for a plan [Phonetic] FOX-P system purchased from us for their silicon carbide products.

We expect these new enhancements to drive incremental bookings and revenue for our FOX-NP systems for new product introduction and engineering qualification needs, as well as our FOX-XP multi-wafer systems to be used for high-volume production with these new features.

We’re also quoting and will accept orders for our new fully automated FOX WaferPak Aligner, which is configured to fully integrate with our FOX-XP multi-wafer systems to enable hands-free operation and includes full integration with our WaferPaks. As capacity and volume forecast increase, eliminating all manual interface for automated handling can become critical. We expect to see our new aligner with this full automation capability to begin shipments by about the end of our fiscal year.

All right. Let me try and wrap this thing up. While the timing for volume production decisions, initial production orders, as well as follow-on orders from customers is never certain. There’s no doubt as to the way the silicon carbide market is developing. As many of you know, ON Semi, one of the top silicon carbide suppliers in the world announced in August, it will increase its silicon carbide production capacity by 5 times and almost quadrupled the number of its employees by the end of this year at its new silicon carbide facility in New Hampshire.

And last month, Wolfspeed, another top supplier, announced a new manufacturing facility in North Carolina, a $1.3 billion factory with a 10 fold increase in wafer capacity. And ST, who last year was the largest silicon carbide supplier in the world, just announced that it will build an integrated silicon carbide substrate manufacturing facility in Catania, Italy, right next to its existing device manufacturing facility with production expected to start in 2023. The decisions being made today are in response to the explosive demand in silicon carbide.

We’re very encouraged by the continued positive momentum and expanding growth opportunities we’re seeing with current and prospective customers. As such, we’re confident with our previously provided forecast for total annual revenue of at least $60 million to $70 million this fiscal year, which would represent a growth of at least 18% to 38% growth year-over-year and clearly emphasize our belief that revenue will grow substantially to the fiscal year to achieve these levels.

This includes our belief that we’ll receive production system orders from several silicon carbide customers beyond our initial lead customer and began shipping systems to meet their production capacity by the end of our current fiscal year that ends May 31st, 2023. We also continue to expect bookings to grow faster than revenues this year, particularly to address the ramp in demand for silicon carbide and electric vehicles.

So lastly, I just want to quickly announce a couple of changes in our organization. I’m very excited to announce today the appointment of Nick Sporck, as Vice President of our contactor business. In this role, Nick will be leading the effort to manage and grow our WaferPak contactor and DiePak carrier consumables business, which has become more and more strategic and has grown into a significantly larger part of our overall business. Over time, we expect consumables to not only grow in total revenue for Aehr, but as a total percentage of our business, approaching 50% of our business on an annual basis.

Nick has an excellent background to lead this effort with broad experience in the semiconductor and electronics industries leading people, engineering teams and organizations in multiple areas covering product development, product design, manufacturing applications. Nick started out as a product test engineering manager at LSI Logic, which is now part of Broadcom. He then worked at FormFactor for 17 years in various roles, but mainly as VP of Design Engineering.

After leaving FormFactory, he is VP of Design and Applications at Translarity; VP of Business Development for ISC, which is a Korean sockets and probe card company; and most recently, he had his own company making various components for the probe card and test industry. We’re extremely pleased to add someone of his caliber and experience to our executive team.

At the same time, I’d like to announce that Dave Hendrickson, our Chief Technology Officer, will be retiring at the end of this fiscal year next May. Dave has served as a valuable member of our executive team for more than 20 years and contributed substantially to our product portfolio in many of our business practices.

Most recently, he’s led a focused component sourcing task force, where his combination of engineering operations and business skills has allowed Aehr to achieve our business growth in the face of a global semiconductor crisis. He’s also been leading the effort to grow our consumables business through strengthening and collaborating with our supply chain partners. Dave will continue as a part-time employee through the end of the year, as we transition our component sourcing leadership to our new Chief Operating Officer, Adil Engineer, and our WaferPak and DiePak Technologies and Business VP and Export.

And with that, let me turn it over to Ken before we open it up for questions.

Ken Spink — Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Gayn, and good afternoon, everyone. We’re off to a solid start to fiscal 2023 after a record Q4 in fiscal 2022. During our first quarter, we recognized strong revenues, increased backlog and improved cash flow. As Gayn noted, revenue for the first quarter was up 89% year-over-year. Both our top and bottom line results came in ahead of analyst estimates for Q1.

Bookings in the first quarter were $19.1 million, and we ended the quarter with a healthy backlog of $19.5 million. Included in our bookings were announced orders of $16.8 million from our lead silicon carbide customer for additional systems, WaferPaks and a high-volume production WaferPak Aligner.

Looking at our financial results. Net sales in the first quarter were $10.7 million, which is down 47% sequentially from our record sales of $20.3 million in the fourth quarter and up 89% from $5.6 million in the first quarter last year. The first quarter sales were consistent with our expectations, and we are forecasting significant growth in the upcoming quarters.

The sequential decrease in net sales from Q4 includes a decrease in WaferPak DiePak revenues of $8.7 million. These consumable revenues accounted for only 5% of revenues in Q1, ’23 compared to 45% of revenues in Q4, ’22. Customers often buy systems and then WaferPaks later after they’ve completed their WaferPak designs. While our lead customer has ordered several systems recently, we have yet to receive all the WaferPak orders to match up with these systems. We expect to receive these WaferPak orders later this year.

This change in product mix had a direct impact on our gross margin in Q1, ’23 as our consumables business delivers higher gross margins. Gross profit in the first quarter was $4.5 million or 42% of sales, down from gross profit of $10.5 million or 52% of sales in the preceding fourth quarter and up from gross profit of $2.3 million or 40% of sales in the first quarter of the previous year.

Direct Materials accounted for an increase in cost of sales of 3.5 percentage points from Q4, ’22. Also contributing to the decrease in gross margin from the preceding fourth quarter was an increase in unabsorbed overhead costs to cost of sales related to lower revenue levels compared to Q4, accounting for a 3.3 percentage point impact on gross margin.

Lastly, an increase in other cost of goods sold, including increased inventory reserves, freight, warranty and tariff costs accounted for a 2.7 percentage point impact on gross margin from the prior fourth quarter.

During this challenging supply chain environment, we have maintained the ability to meet customer commitment. As our FOX-P platform contains a high concentration of common parts across the platform, it allows flexibility among various customers’ configurations. Also the use of contract manufacturers provide ability to scale easily and quickly without increasing our fixed costs.

We expect our gross margins to improve, as we move through the remainder of the year, as we recognize more consumable revenue and our absorption of our manufacturing overhead improves, as revenue increases throughout the year.

Non-GAAP net income for the first quarter was $1.3 million or $0.05 per diluted share this compares to non-GAAP net income of $6.5 million or $0.23 per diluted share in the preceding fourth quarter and a non-GAAP net loss of $414,000 or $0.02 per diluted share in the first quarter of fiscal 2022. Non-GAAP net income excludes the impact of stock-based compensation. In the first quarter of fiscal 2022, non-GAAP net income also excluded the impact of forgiveness of $1.7 million from the Paycheck Protection Program that we received in fiscal 2020.

Operating expenses in the first quarter were $4 million, a decrease of $625,000 or 13% from $4.6 million in the preceding fourth quarter and up $749,000 or 23% from $3.3 million in the first quarter last year. The decrease from the preceding fourth quarter is primarily due to higher incentive payments and stock compensation in Q4 related to bonus objectives resulting from our record revenue and bookings last fiscal year. The increase from prior year Q1 is primarily due to increased headcount, higher incentive payments, stock compensation, and an increase in shareholder relations costs.

We continue to invest in R&D to enhance our existing market-leading products and introduce new products to maintain our competitive advantages and expand our applications and addressable markets. These new products include the recently introduced new advanced testing capabilities on our FOX-P systems for silicon carbide and gallium nitride technologies and our fully automated and integrated aligner.

Turning to the balance sheet for the first quarter. We finished the quarter with a strong balance sheet. Our cash and cash equivalents were $36.1 million at August 31st, up $4.7 million from $31.5 million at the end of the preceding quarter and up $29.6 million from $6.5 million at the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2022. The significant increase year-over-year includes the $24 million we raised in our ATM offering in Q2. ’22.

Working capital at August 31st was $49.4 million. Inventories at the end of the first quarter were $17.2 million, an increase of $2.2 million from the preceding quarter end and $7.1 million from Q1 last year. As we’ve noted before, we have been ordering long lead components for systems and WaferPaks to ensure adequate supply to meet customer lead times and to support our expected growth in fiscal 2023.

Now turning to our outlook for the 2023 fiscal year, which ends on May 31st, 2023, we are confident in the Company’s growth trajectory and our unique capabilities and product offerings to meet customer demands. As such, we are reiterating our previously provided guidance for full year total revenue of at least $60 million to $70 million, representing growth of at least 18% to 38% year-over-year, with strong profit margins similar to last year. We continue to expect bookings to grow faster than revenues in fiscal 2023, as the ramp in demand for silicon carbide and electric vehicles increases.

The Company continues to make investments to support its future growth. This includes investments in headcount and operations. The Company plans to make improvements to its corporate facilities to allow for increased production. In addition, the Company has invested in expanding its foreign operations, including its Philippines repair center. This repair center places resources close to our Asia customers and a lower cost region to support repairs, installations and upgrades. This also provides for lower freight costs and faster response times, as the Asia market accounted for 90% of revenues in fiscal 2022.

Lastly, looking at the Investor Relations calendar, our annual shareholders’ meeting will be held at our corporate headquarters on Tuesday, October 18. We will also be participating in several investor conferences in the next few months. On October 25th, we will be presenting at LD Micro Main Conference taking place in Los Angeles; on November 17th, we’ll be participating in the Craig-Hallum Alpha Select Conference taking place in New York; and on December 13th, we’ll be participating in the CEO Summit conference, which is also taking place in New York. We hope to see some of you in person at these events.

This concludes our prepared remarks. We are now ready to take your questions. Operator, please go ahead.

Questions and Answers:


Thank you. We will now begin the question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] The first question today comes from Christian Schwab with Craig-Hallum Capital Group. Please go ahead.

Christian Schwab — Craig-Hallum Capital Group — Analyst

Hey, good evening, guys. Congrats on a great start to the year.

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Christian.

Christian Schwab — Craig-Hallum Capital Group — Analyst

Gayn can you — could you give us a number — you talked about being engaged in discussions with almost all existing and future silicon carbide suppliers as you see it today. How many potential customers is there?

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, that’s a good question. I actually don’t have that in front of me. I’m looking — I’m kind of mentally imagine the list that Vernon has and it’s a pretty long list. I’m kind of guessing here, but a dozen or more kind of range, I’d say.

Christian Schwab — Craig-Hallum Capital Group — Analyst

Okay. Great. And then, as the several new customers ramp throughout the course of this year, is this the type of ramp that you expect to accelerate strongly this year and be greater next year? And can it ramp to the level that your largest customer ramp once they started making production type of orders on kind of a [Speech Overlap].

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Couple of — I mean, a couple of questions in there. I mean the traditional model is people usually take like one system and they will, call it, sit on it and work through some issues or just make sure it gets called into production then they’ll order another one, and you go through lead times and then start shipping it. I would say that’s not what the shape looks like with these customers. It’s more of full systems, maybe multiple systems in a short period of time, and in some cases, in multiple facilities and it’s kind of go-go go.

So now the other customer has — our lead customer has been making some really significant investments. They, to some extent, led the industry in this wafer level burn-in push, and it’s certainly being felt in the industry. Everybody is quite aware of it. And they took a pretty long time to absorb the first one and then started ramping pretty hard.

My guess is, is that it’s softer during the first 6 months or 12 months and then it gets stronger thereafter. We’ll see. It depends on the customer. Even — it’s kind of interesting, I mean, even with test times, I’ve had been engaged with customers, and they’ll tell me their test time is such and such over and over and over again. And then, if they going to place you order, and then they tell me their real test times and they’re longer than they were.

Why is that? Is it just they’re trying to be coy or not tell you everything. So we’re right now one thing is happening is, we’re definitely trying to ferret out long lead and forecast for multiple customers, as we just stated, this is make sure we have plenty of material on that is being purchased. But I think they will start a little slower and then gradually pick up.

And as we had — if you look at the amount of capacity that everybody is talking about to hit in 2025, calendar-wise, most people are just really focused on second half ’23 and into ’24 is where just a lot of capacity is coming online. And so it may be less to do with the timing of us as the timing of that silicon carbide ramp. And our goal is to get qualified before that ramp happens and have a ton of capacity and material on hand to be able to address it.

Christian Schwab — Craig-Hallum Capital Group — Analyst

That’s a great question, Gayn. Can you remind us what you think your yearly manufacturing capacity is or could be by the time you get to calendar ’25?

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. I mean it’s broken up of maybe a few things. One is that seemingly what most people think is the obvious, which is if you kind of look at our facility and you say, well, how many tools can you build on the floor here. But in reality, that’s some ways the easiest thing.

The tester is basically bolt into water and power and they test themselves. And we have a pretty good sized facility here with enough test base to build significantly.

Ken alluded to that, we’re actually going to be doing some investments, probably a couple of few million dollars into the facility over the next couple of years, putting in additional power, water drops and some other enhancements to support our WaferPak business as well. But that would allow us to have maybe 10 [Phonetic] plus drops, meaning we could be building 10 systems at a time on two week spreads. I mean that’s a lot of capacity more than the whole industry would take right now. We were building 20 systems a month, for example.

The next one is the subcontractors that are building all those subassemblies that come to us. And then I have to go down the list of them. But basically, we have multiple chamber suppliers, multiple blade suppliers, multiple premium circuit board suppliers. And generally speaking, even as Grandiosas we are excited. We don’t really press that. And the key here is we’ve been able to do this without really being impacted by everybody’s worrying about supply chain.

Outside of one thing, and that’s the last one, and that is the semiconductor components. Semiconductor components we have a really, really good handle on. We know exactly how many that go into the system. We’re forecasting, and we’re buying semiconductor components right now 12 months and 18 months out and have been for 18 months. And because of the, quite frankly, massive leverage of semiconductor components to our revenue, we’re able to afford to buy a lot of semiconductors ahead of time. So we’re just not really being caught.

Now having said that, we still have our onesie twosies along the way and hiccups and the guys are working their [Indecipherable] off to just make sure it looks like it’s easy. But for the most part, we’ve just not been impacted and allows us to keep both our lead times down and our capacity up. But could we go ship $100 million, $200 million, $300 million worth of FOX-XP systems in a year? Absolutely.

Christian Schwab — Craig-Hallum Capital Group — Analyst

Great. And then just one last question, and I’ll let others chime in. In your guidance of $60 million to $70 million, can you give us just kind of your rough expectation of what you think or [Phonetic] the customer will be of that?

Ken Spink — Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Well, not as much as it was last year, as a percentage. So that’s a good sign. And some of the upside within that range and some of the upside beyond that range includes them and just not always having all the perfect visibility. We have — obviously, we know a lot we’re not sharing. But they’re going through all kinds of different manufacturing plan scenarios, where they’re going to be putting systems, more facilities, and we don’t — even with our current installed base customer, you don’t have perfect visibility. So partly, we just buy enough material because we can anticipate the amount of market share that we’re going to have.

But we definitely have within that number, several new customers and not just engineering, but first production systems being installed. And the part of the front end of that too is how many will we get installed in time? Will we have any kind of rev rec things with respect to being right on the edge with their acceptance that creates some of the sort of uncertainty. Guys, if we didn’t have to do quarters or years, you hear from CEOs all the time, my life would be a lot easier. The reality is, if I just look in the next year or I look out through next December, and you look at what that ramp looks like, I’m way more focused on that, but I get, I get it. We’ve got street expectations to meet, and we want to make our shareholders happy too.

I just think exactly timing everything within the quarter, sometimes it’s harder. And that’s where you see that kind of wiggle room of the $60 million — at least $60 million to $70 million, and we — and then make statements that can we have capacity to do beyond that.

Christian Schwab — Craig-Hallum Capital Group — Analyst

Okay. That’s great. And just a quick follow-up on that. Using your words, if you could just look out for December after of next year. If we look at your business in a calendar basis next year that you’re excited about it, how big of a revenue range opportunity are you thinking about?

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. I’m not going to go there, Christian. Sorry. We spend a lot of time making sure and I’m — that’s the one thing we do discuss, as a board pretty hard to make sure I apologize for that. But I will tell you, I’m very confident, and I’ll go ahead and it’s not a big stretch out there. We definitely believe that we’ll grow next year over this year. Let me leave it at that.

Christian Schwab — Craig-Hallum Capital Group — Analyst

Yeah. Great. All right. No other questions. Thanks, Gayn.

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Okay. Nice try though, Christian. All good.


The next question comes from Bradford Ferguson of Halter Ferguson Financial Group. Please go ahead.

Bradford Ferguson — Halter Ferguson Financial — Analyst

Hello. I’m curious, is your lead customer successfully making their own substrate. Wolfspeed has come out and said on a go-forward basis, as of some certain date, they’re not going to be selling substrate or extra substrate to other suppliers of silicon carbide devices. Curious if this is a risk for Aehr Test systems?

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

So obviously, we have insight under non-disclosures and given the fact that I said I’m talking to all the major suppliers, you can imply, I’m talking to every one of the big guys, including the ones you mentioned and then some under non-disclosures, and that gives me in many ways, way more visibility than others, but primarily related to the devices. They’re exactly what they know non-public related to their substrates. I don’t have as much visibility that I wouldn’t really share.

It’s my belief that all of the major suppliers are all having success and counting on success of developing their own substrate supply chain. And obviously, that includes the big guys, Wolfspeed, of course, has been — was the major supplier of it. They’re obviously expecting to be very successful making devices out of that. ST with their announcement of their new fab or their manufacturing facility is absolutely counting on ramping their own. And obviously, ON Semiconductor is another one along those lines. And of course, Infineon’s got some work going on, too.

It’s my belief that all of them will be will be successful. I don’t — I’m not hearing anyone that can genuinely say there’s certainly people that are saying it’s not as easy as it looks. It takes some time, but there’s a lot of money we can put in. I mean Wolfspeed spent 30 years working on this stuff. And the — their competitors are spending more money to make pools [Phonetic] in this year than maybe Wolfspeed spent in their whole career. So I don’t know if that’s fair, but it feels like that. So there’s a lot of energy to go try and solve this problem. And my belief is they’ll find — they’ll figure it out.

Bradford Ferguson — Halter Ferguson Financial — Analyst

One name I haven’t heard you mention is Infineon. Are there any large silicon carbide makers, who aren’t doing wafer level burn-in are doing that in masses than the others intend to do.

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Let me do it differently. There’s — most of the vendor — most of the companies today have either little or 0 wafer level burn-in with the exception of our lead customer. I actually happen to know by quantity how many wafers of capacity and it is a very small fraction comparatively.

Keep in mind, one of my systems can test 18 wafers at a time. We’ve publicly talked about our competitors. I choose really not to do it in this forum because then they can read about it. And it’s not because it’s — but the people that are out there test one wafer at a time with a prober and it just doesn’t scale. I mean in the same footprint of — I actually used this analogy, I apologize if I did it on this group before.

But our tester and the surrounding area that it takes to actually service it is about the size of like a small Prius car, and it sits in a parking lot. Like imagine that space. Okay? That’s what our system is. And in that stall I’m looking at our parking lot in that room, actually, it’s smaller than that. But in that room, you can test 18 wafers. That’s about the same size, as our competitors test one.

If you go through the math, and I’ve done this before, if you realize that the world needs 8 million wafers in 2030, that was a Canaccord number and I round down using like 8,700 hours a year with inefficiencies, etc, you need 1,000 wafers an hour, okay, to meet that demand.

So if you start looking at like a 10-hour burn-in time, you have 10,000 wafers of capacity. That’s a 10,000 car parking lot by my competitor. Now we’re 18 times smaller. It’s — we’re not 0 footprint. But in the cost of a manufacturing floor of a wafer fab, that’s enormous. And so if you’re a player playing in a market that’s going to need 10,000 wafers of capacity of testers, and you want to have 20% market share, and you need 2,000 wafers of capacity, where are you going to put that? There’s no test floor in the world that has 2,000 wafers that can support 2,000 wafers of — wafer probers for silicon carbide. There’s no way. So we are just — obviously a very big opportunity to do.

Bradford Ferguson — Halter Ferguson Financial — Analyst

Can I ask one more?

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer


Bradford Ferguson — Halter Ferguson Financial — Analyst

You mentioned a brand new player that’s an experienced chipmaker. Are there chip makers that are going to enter this market and size is like the current announced plans of the top three players, like our — or other people going in…

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. We’re talking to now several. I had to go double check that because we’ve been talking to these guys for not very long, by the way. I mean I don’t even think it’s been four months that we went from 0 to first order in 4 months with these guys. I had to go double check to make sure they haven’t publicly said anything when I wrote that, but they haven’t.

And we — there’s another customer we’ve been working with that has never said anything public either, but I did notice they showed up at one of the trade shows recently, I still not going to talk any more about it, but we know they have massive plans on the order of some of the current top 4s.

Keep in mind — and this is always — I’ve done this math before, it’s always interesting. If you just go through the simple math of these forecasts, I’d say there was 125,000 wafer starts to do silicon carbide last year, and there’s 4 million, I think, as you remember is like 25 times.

Another way of thinking about it is that all of the silicon carbide that was built last year, right, is not even, what, 2% or 2 [Phonetic] what is that like, I’m sorry, go ahead, 25 year [Phonetic] — 4% of the overall market. Do you get that? So all of the suppliers today don’t even dent the market in eight years. So they all have to grow substantially. People need to grow a lot to just sustain a small percentage market share. So they’re going to need a lot more players.

I mean, I sat in meetings, where leaders like ST Microelectronics, who is the number one at a conference last May in San Diego, he stood up and said, listen, I just want to be very clear. We have no plans to build enough capacity to maintain a 50% market share like we did last year. They just don’t. They’re not going to spend that much. So by definition, they’re going to lose market share from being number one at 50%, but they’re still planning to grow like a huge amount, but they’re not going to grow 25 times [Phonetic]. So the world actually needs a lot more players.

Bradford Ferguson — Halter Ferguson Financial — Analyst

Thank you very much.

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

You’re welcome.


The next question comes from Gregory Ratliff with Nobis Partners. Please go ahead.

Gregory Ratliff — Nobis Partners — Analyst

Yeah. Mr. Erickson, and congratulations on the company and the opportunity. One thought I have is to carry on with that final question. And if you were to look at the — maybe the weaknesses in the structure of the Company currently or the competitive threats down the road, could you give us a bit of your thinking regarding what you need to do to continue to be a champion or to be a champion with the tough competition they had. That’s all from me [Phonetic].

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Okay. So I’m not foolish to think that as the market is obviously large and growing, there won’t be people trying to figure out how to get into it. We are in a particularly unique scenario, where the way we do our testing is truly unique. Perhaps you could say it could be in a negative connotation. If you look at every wafer tester in the world, I’ve been in this industry for 35 years, I’ve built them for most of that. The way you build an ATE system to test semiconductors is all the same.

Every one of the companies, all 20 of them in the last 20 years have done it the same way. You build a tester box that sits on one of the three main wafer prober, companies probers. It docks to 1 of 20 probe card suppliers and the three different industries, the tester, the prober and the probe card supplier have effectively have multiple people competing for the same capability and then people buy those tools, integrated themselves and put them on their floor. And that is a very successful business. It’s — combined, it’s a big chunk of the $13 billion semiconductor automated test business last year.

The problem with that is that those test times are all designed around seconds of test time. And so that test sell might be an average somewhere between $1 million and $2 million to test the wafer. If you just look at the capital depreciation testing one or two or four or eight devices at a time, it’s extremely expensive to do it, but the test times are so low, it’s okay.

Now you take that exact same test time. And by the way, that’s how you test silicon carbide at wafer level today. Functional test of a silicon carbide device takes about 2.5 seconds. And most of the testers that are in production today are between one and eight devices at a time. It’s really cheap and easy to do that.

When you go to burn them in, they now take 12 hours. Well, how are you going to do that with a tester that they can now only test eight at a time. You just can’t do that. We built a machine aimed at a completely different market, which is the idea that we’re going to take package part burn-in level costs and parallelism and implement that at wafer level and we made investments over the last decade to do that.

Quite frankly, looking at macroeconomic trends of heterogeneous integration of semiconductors, of automotive devices going in this direction of multi-die modules going in this direction, do not kid yourself. We did not think silicon carbide eight years ago was going to be this great hot market or that the world would actually be contemplating that we’re all going to be driving electric vehicles in 20 years, okay?

But what we did do is anticipate the market trends that we’re headed in this direction, and quite frankly, we’re sitting out in front of this when the silicon carbide hit us sideways. And we just call it what it is, we called the shot that it was headed in this direction, and we were ready and prepared to take advantage of the wave and it’s really exciting. It is not that easy to do what we do. And we have an entire list of patents to defend it, and we will defend that with any company that tries to build a tester like ours or any customer that tries to use a tester built by someone else that looks like ours.

In the meantime, we have a long head start and we’re — our goal is to get engage with as many of these customers as we can. Also, we’re working directly with some of the automotive suppliers now, who now would look to qualify the tool and then they could qualify it backwards into multiple vendors, so that once we’re qualified, I don’t think anyone’s going to want to switch anyhow. I know I’m pretty being specific about our strategy, but that’s how it’s playing out right now.

So having said that, we’re also running like hell. We’re absolutely making sure that we do not limit anyone in capacity of testers. We have the shortest lead times of any tester company I’ve heard of. I mean, I took an order two weeks ago and shipped at the end of the week. I’ll take an order — I’m not going to talk about when my next orders are, but I’m going to be announcing some orders, they’re going to ship within a quarter, okay? We have that ability, and we can tell the customer we can meet their capacity demands that they’re imagining out 12 months and 6 months and 18 months. right, 12 years [Phonetic], 18 years [Phonetic] and 2 years, sorry.

So the next thing is just technically. There are some things, and it’s not so much a weakness as it is, people would like to do more testing or be able to do it. So we took our power supplies that were going at about 30 volts and we increased them to 40 volts. We’re now trying to make sure there’s no technical reason you need to go away from us.

So now we have the ability to give you a technical solution for engineering characterization of high-voltage, high gates, all the different threshold voltages and stuff that you do for qualification and then move that into high-volume production either in the same configuration or in cost optimized configuration that we don’t really get to on these calls.

But we have some tricks up our sleeve to actually do characterization with higher cost performing systems and then go to a production volume when that hits a price point that is very novel. And so we’re trying to hit it on all of these [Phonetic] technically commercially capacity to be able to address it, and then we have IP patents to protect ourselves, and then we’re just paranoid and running as fast as we can.

Gregory Ratliff — Nobis Partners — Analyst

Thank you so much for that.

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Greg. It’s nice talking to you.

Gregory Ratliff — Nobis Partners — Analyst

My pleasure, sir.


The next question comes from Matthew Winthrop with Equitable. Please go ahead.

Matthew Winthrop — Equitable — Analyst

Hi. Hi, there. Gayn, how are you?

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

I’m good, sir, in a particularly good mood these days.

Matthew Winthrop — Equitable — Analyst

You found it. I wanted to just blow some smoke for a quick second, as you know, as a retail adviser, I’ve been following Aehr for four years, five years now [Technical Issues] and lived through the downtime and you were so brutally honest when things weren’t great. And I just wanted to thank you and commend the fact that you guys have kept your eye on the ball and obviously, you’re starting to see some successes, and that’s a rare attribute in this environment that we’re in. So nice work.

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

I really appreciate that.

Matthew Winthrop — Equitable — Analyst

Real quickly, it does seem on the outset that you’re having shorter lead times, because of [Phonetic] how well a customer wanted to see and then they got it and they messed around for a while. Am I Interpreting that correct that [Technical Issues] the mass adoption or that your system really does work that well, but what’s changed now? Are there more in the workforce that suddenly it sounds like the sales lead time is a little quicker unless I’m misinterpreting that.

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. I think I got it. You broke up a little, so I apologize, but I think I got the gist of it. So let me kind of repeat it back a little bit. So this idea that — it seems like things are going a little faster, maybe the sales cycle is a little shorter, etc, there’s — that’s absolutely the case.

And I think there’s a few things going on there. This really is one, where COVID being over helped, okay? I mean, it just things were so slow with current and new customers and people weren’t traveling, and it’s just hard to sell, and it’s hard to communicate and you can only do so much over tune. So that’s definitely one of them.

There’s also this element that if you — three years ago, right, we were selling these systems, people know the lead customers on this platform were Apple, Intel and ST Microelectronics and some of these because they were 10% customers for us, right? But they’re still kind of — is it real? Does it really make sense? It’s kind of niche-y, these are weird, whatever it is, right? It’s like I’m not sure.

Then all of a sudden, as people know that one of the big silicon carbide customers came along and bought this and quite frankly, bought one system and sat on it for more than a year. Of course, COVID was going on. So there’s still sort of this is it real? Is it really going to work that whole thing.

Then all sudden they start ramping, then all of a sudden from what it feels like, and I’ve heard this directly they — companies that they’re selling to are kind of coming back because they really have done a good job of marketing themselves as being quality differentiated selling the modules, selling the quality of the modules, and quite frankly, they did presentations. They talked about their wafer level burn-in earlier. And I think it’s come through.

So then they’re winning deals and those customers, their customers are turnaround and talking to now their competitors and saying, oh, do you have wafer level burn-in? There’s no doubt some of that’s going on, okay? And we’re doing everything we can do to foster that environment, okay? Because all we have to do is get somebody to say I want to do wafer level burn-in and right now, we win. We’re done [Phonetic] because our value proposition, our solution, our lead times, our price points they’re a slam dunk. And so right now, it’s like we’re not taking advantage of this. We’re not raising up. We did not raise our prices, guys, okay? Did not do it.

We had some things, where our costs went up. I mean I did pay $50,000 to ship a chamber in last Christmas. It was crazy, but I didn’t pass that along to my customer. I’m not doing that game. And I — we make good money. We’re going to make a lot of it. We’re going to provide the value to our customers, and we’re going to be there for them. And I think that we’re in this — in a good position because of that.

Matthew Winthrop — Equitable — Analyst

That’s great. I have one follow-up, if I may. I’ll act like an analyst here. Last quarter, what were you projecting for potential revenues for was the calendar — fiscal ’23 because now I think your release said $60-odd million, maybe more. Has that number just in the last quarter increased dramatically? Or was that…

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

We really only provide guidance annually, and we only do it once a year, although, we have kind of fallen into that we reiterate or in some cases, we will update. So we provided that guidance. And I get it, people said, what does that mean at least $60 million or $70 million. Is it $60 million? Is it $70 million? And we were not intentionally trying to be cute, but that still feels about right. I mean, we think we’re in good shape for that. And it just really depends on some of the timing of these customers’ ramps.

So sometimes I don’t feed anyone questions, but I’m going to feed you a question that is, were you able to ship everything your customers wanted last quarter? Yes. So why was it only 10 whatever? That’s all they wanted. I mean that’s the reality of it. And you think you’re going to grow. Why? Because the customers want more, and I can build more. It’s sort of like that. We’re actually ahead of the game on this.

And so now I’ll get into why is it that there was — it seems softer than Q4, and I know some of those reasons. So very private about [Phonetic] customers’ ramps and their design wins and when they wanted WaferPaks and I got facility issues with people that are talking about bringing on new facilities and some of that stuff, just hard to handicap and know what the answer is.

And so — and of course, I have to guess correctly with these guys — and some of this is — I’m pretty confident of winning these customers, but it will be — it will feel good when they give us the first POs too, right? So it’s a little bit hard to guide that way. But yeah, we did not change our guidance, if you will. I guess we said we’re very confident of that number. And as our backlog builds up and if the backlog and the customers asked for more than that, we’ll guide up at that time or as it makes sense. But again, we’re not trying to play that game.

Matthew Winthrop — Equitable — Analyst

Nice work. I appreciate your efforts. Let’s make sure I get to see you when you’re in New York.

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Okay. Awesome. It will be good to go back. I love the travel personally so.

Matthew Winthrop — Equitable — Analyst

I know you’ve talked about Europe all the time. Thank you so much.

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.


The next question is from Larry Chlebina with Chlebina Capital. Please go ahead.

Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst

Yeah. So Gayn, real quick question on this new version of your XP in terms of the higher voltages or the adjustable voltages, and the testing that you did in the past for particularly large silicon carbide customer, I think it was in August of last year. Does that mean that this is the process that they’re going to use, these higher voltages one? I think you just send them something…

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Let me try and answer it as clear as I — go ahead.

Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst

The follow-on is, is the higher voltage or this sort of adjustable voltage the way you think most potential customers are going to go? Or are they [Speech Overlap].

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

I’m glad you asked it in that way. That will be easier for me because it’s — I’m not trying to be coy here, okay? But let me try and guess. So there are several ways, not 10, there’s primarily two main ways that you can stress these MOSFET devices to weed out infant mortality, okay?

A MOSFET is a transistor. A transistor, if you imagine a water valve like on your sink is a great analogy. All you do is a transistor allows electrical current or water to flow through it when you turn on the valve or, in this case, apply a voltage to the gate. That’s it. You apply a voltage, water flows through it, you turn off the gate, the water stops flowing through it. If the device works properly, when you turn it off, it doesn’t drip. We call that leakage. If you put a big power pressure behind it, it might leak a little and they actually specify how much it leaks, but if it leaks more than that, it’s bad, okay?

Now there are two main stresses you can do to verify that. One of them is a gate bias, a high-voltage gate bias on the gate itself. Imagine the valve I’m describing I want you to put your hand on the valve and I want you to turn it over as hard as you can, try and break it on, okay? Sounds kind of odd, but that’s exactly what we do.

We basically overstress the gate and if the gate breaks, it snaps off. We actually call that a glass rod snap in-house. We love showing those to customers, particularly when they take 24 hours or 48 hours to show up, okay? That is a failure that shows up. It is the primary failure in silicon carbide MOSFETs that everybody talks about, and you have to get rid of those.

Those show up in cars, and you have what we call a walk home event, which is you get out of your car and you walk home when it dies, okay? So those need to be weeded out, and that’s what we do primarily, okay? Because the gate oxide has defects in it in the manufacturing process that I’ll get into it, but they are not going away if you — if those flow through all the way to your end customer, that’s bad, okay? So we apply a high-voltage gate bias onto the gate to overstress it to try and crack it off, and that’s a primary way of doing it.

Another test is called the reverse bias, which is imagine putting really high pressure on that valve water pressure, it’s called voltage in this case. And it shouldn’t leak through. Now the difference between that test, that’s a good quality test or a reliability test, meaning you want to do that during your process to validate the devices do not fail, and you’ll do that over, say, a 2,000 hour. That’s not necessarily a production test. The production test may only take a few seconds. But there are people that want to do qualification of that high voltage and there are some people that have done it in production, and we Aehr now provide them with a solution to do that, okay?

Having said that, you can’t do the same as the gate. You actually — if let’s say, the device is rated, for 1,200 volts, you don’t apply 1,800 volts to the device. It will kill it, it will weaken it, and it will not be shippable. So you can only put 1,200 volts on it. So it’s not really a burn-in stress condition. It’s a functional test validation and you might want to do it for a few seconds, but it’s not necessarily a production test. But you know what, if you want to put my system in production with that, you go for it. It costs a little bit more. I’ll be happy to do it, and I’ll sell you FOX-XPs forever.

Our opinion, and we’ve been fairly open about it, is that you want to do characterization, you want to do that and you want to get that out of production as soon as you can and you should go to this gate bias testing, and that’s our story. And you — we now have the tools to give you whatever you want to do, you can buy whatever you want, we’ll be happy to sell it to you. It is more expensive to do reverse bias, but we’re cheaper than anybody else by a long way.

Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst

So you think — do you think most of the systems will be like the original version going forward or…

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

I do. I do. I think over time, that’s really where the cost is going, and that’s — we’ve been talking about multiple. We — by the way, the new BVCM, I know nobody cares about our language here, but the new bipolar voltage it actually allows us to go a little higher voltage. We had some people that want to do that. Interestingly, as the devices mature, the voltage is actually going down. So we’re kind of feel like — but there are some people that asked for it, particularly in the gallium nitride, and so we’re like, sure, no problem.

We also have a negative voltage. And there’s some technical white papers out there that people are doing to do that as an accelerant, and now we have, I think, the only solution out there to do that even in packaged parts. So now we have the ability to do a negative voltage, which is something people may want to do too, and we’ll be happy to sell in those systems. It looks just like our current system, it just simply goes a larger voltage range.

Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst

Okay. I’m glad you introduced the fully automated Aligner, which gives you the fully automated XP. Do you have a name for the XP fully automated yet?

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

No, because I’m leaking my — that we’re taking orders, but I haven’t — we haven’t even put it on the website yet. So I don’t yet. But actually, I do if you’re under non-disclosure, but you have to qualify first as a silicon carbide buyer and you don’t qualify. I’m kidding for everybody’s watching Larry always asks me about this thing. We’ll be talking about that in a little bit here, Larry. But yeah, as Larry alludes to, we are selling as a turnkey solution with an integrated XP with the automated aligner attached to it. And we’ll probably make those announcements with those first production orders that we get from customers.

Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst

I know that, that was originally targeting memory, and there’s a lot of memory activity out there.

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer


Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst

To be able to get to a record standing for that wafer sorting because you talked about the need to sort wafers or devices for threshold voltage and silicon carbide, so that you can match them up later. Will you [Phonetic] have a similar need in flash to sort those based on quality or available cells? Is that kind of the same thought process.

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. I mean I’m probably a little too familiar with that because you got it little wrong. But generally, yes, the cycling test of NAND flash memory and wafer level is one — is a potentially critically — it’s a good idea before you put it into enterprise-based solid-state devices and there are people that are doing that today.

And you are correct. Our FOX-XP system when we first were talking to it, we were engaged in talking with some of the memory suppliers and our FOX-XP system is capable of testing class memory. So it’s kind of funny that MOSFET is a single transistor and the tester is also capable of testing of full memory.

As people know, one of the challenges we had at the time when we did not have automation, and candidly, we were pretty small, and we were on the drawing board with this solution, as opposed to now we’re shipping it in volume. So that may give you some insight as to what our long-term intentions are.

Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst

So just one more thing on that score. You can potentially get two birds with one stone. You get the infant mortality screening, as well as the sorting. And how are they doing that currently? What are they using?

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Are we talking about memory guys?

Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst


Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Memory guys use a memory ATE system, primarily from Advantest, Teradyne, or in-house-built systems.

Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst

So thos are [Phonetic] single wafer systems aren’t they?

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

They are or there are — there is a solution out there for people that use a multi wafer prober. So they’re basically like 12 probers kind of bolted together and on top of each other. They’re very expensive, but with a custom in-house test system that does it. That architecturally is significantly more expensive than us and it has a larger footprint [Speech Overlap].

Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst

Yeah. So you saw some substantially smaller footprint because you can do 18 at a time. So it seems to me that while these guys are starting to plan out new fabs, and you mentioned in the last time there would be a new fab deployment, you’d want to get to a record status as soon as possible. And then you might think that, that would upset the people that sell those testers and masks because there’s whole floor is for them [Phonetic], right?

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

It would upset me if I were selling them testers? Yes.

Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst

And just one last thing. In the past, you mentioned even though you can do 18 at a time, the volume would be so massive, you would still need how many potential XPs for a typical, say, a flash fab?

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

75 to 100 per floor.

Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst

Fully automated.

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. If they were counting. Folks online, Larry, I do want to be also clear, we do not currently have revenue expectations for shipping into the memory guys this year. But if you are investing in us, you’re always investing in us getting into memory someday, I just want to balance the enthusiasm. And Larry knows darn well that it’s one of my absolute pet peeves and one of my passions is to get this Company into the memory business. So thank you, Larry, for teeing that up.

Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst

But all right, great, great job and keep up the great work.

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Larry.

Larry Chlebina — Chlebina Capital — Analyst

We’re counting on it. We’re counting on it.


At this time, there are no more questions in the queue. I would like to…

Gayn Erickson — President and Chief Executive Officer

All right. I’m glad, we’re able to get to everybody. Thank you, operator. I’m glad we had a chance, a couple of times ago, I think we cut off a little early. We’re trying to get our CAM [Phonetic] statements in, in the first 30 minutes and give people enough air to get their questions in.

So I really appreciate all our shareholders that have been sticking with us. And we’re really excited about this new market opportunity this year and heading into the next years. And we look forward to seeing anyone that happens to be coming into town a visit. We do take those or at one of the shareholder meetings or the investor conferences. We’re getting a lot more miles on us these days. So thank you very much for your time, and we’ll talk to you next time. Bye-bye.


[Operator Closing Remarks]


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