Posted by Hezi Saar on November 17, 2011
We are back to our discussion regarding the importance of hardware testing with Chris J. Loberg, Sr. Field Technical Marketing Manager for performance oscilloscopes at Tektronix. Here is the second part of the Questions and Answers used in this interview, feel free to comment and ask your own questions, we’ll do our best to respond.
Question:Can you comment on the growing Importance of hardware testing? Please give example of what could happen if you don’t do it right.
Answer:Hardware testing becomes more critical as when the clock frequency increases beyond 1GHz the tolerance for increasing bit errors increases substantially. Verifying the modeled performance is very critical when speeds go up as Jitter increase and timing analysis using hardware is important.
There are other stressors that play in these speeds as pulse width of clock frequency swings go below 50mW and shorter than 50ps in width, cross talk and symbol interference could be an issue and could cascade into the system.
EDA tools can help prevent these cases ahead of time in the design but there is a certain tolerance for these tools so testing in hardware gets us to a more predictable model.
Question:What design engineers for mobile SoC see as important in hardware testing?
Answer:Mobile phone standards have two very unique needs:
– bursty traffic at extremely low amplitude and
– tight spaces so accessing to test points cleanly and reliably are challenging.
Getting the probe tip on the board it is extremely challenging that could be on the other side of the board. Mobile phone testing is like testing DRAM due to physical access.
Standard fixuring is starting to show up to overcome some of these physical constraints
Question:What are the challenges the hardware testing industry needs to overcome?
Answer:There are some challenges for testing protocols MIPI alliance such as Accessible test points, lack of a strict logo compliance program. There is no formal test program and a lot of room for interpretation however as long as MIPI protocols stay “inside the device” it’s a less of an issue.
There is a wide variety of serial standards therefore designers are challenged with signal integrity and physical measurement expertise. This puts the responsibility on vendors like Tektronix to continue and provide ease of use and simplified setup. Keeping the performance and electrical capabilities is not a problem but more ease of use which is met using 3rd party test equipment.
Question:What is your perspective about MIPI protocols enabled by M-PHY and D-PHY?
M-PHY is the backbone of many protocols so if M-PHY is not constructed properly could cause failure in the protocol level. Verifying M-PHY performance is critical for the success of these protocols and enhances the flexibility of the M-PHY.
It’s a very dynamic industry, growing tremendously and the competitive nature of it allows companies like Tektronix to serve the market well.
Thank you Chris, it was interesting to hear your opinion and I’ll be glad to interview you again in the future.
I hope you found this interview interesting like I did. Please share additional questions if you have any and Chris or myself will try to respond.
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Views and Trends in mobile electronics connectivity related to MIPI IP
I started my career as an R&D engineer for embedded systems, then transitioned into applications engineering and product marketing roles in the semiconductor industry. With my systems knowledge, I have led many IC design wins that have enabled portable applications such as cellular phones, digital cameras and eBooks.
What intrigues me about the mobile electronics market is how rapid technological innovations, economic forces and changing consumer preferences drive market direction. Let’s explore these developments together.
– Hezi Saar