An ATE class Digital Protocol Validation using Benchtop PXI instrument

Semiconductor chips are becoming more intelligent, thereby increasing the amount of data transfer as well. This has also paved the way for the evolution of digital communication protocols. As the complexity of the protocol and product increases, the need for testing the protocol compliance and interoperability of the device becomes an essential process. Given such a case, it becomes inevitable for validation teams to test the digital interfaces beyond the functional compliance tests and validate all characteristics (functional, voltage, and timing), even for the worst-case scenarios.

If you were a Digital test engineer, then the tedious tale of Protocol Validation would definitely resonate with you. To the unversed, here is a deeper dive into the nuances of Protocol Validation.


Validation – The conventional style


Typically, bench-top instruments such as a protocol debugger or analyzer are used in performing the basic functional tests. Though the cost is much less, these instruments might not be able to perform a complete parametric validation or validate all characteristics of the device entirely. Besides, these products have certain limitations.

–  Specification coverage and compliance on electrical and timing validation

–  Software test automation integration

–  Reliability and consistency hence becomes an unviable solution

Most often, since validation engineers are unable to validate all the specifications through bench instruments, they resort to higher-end ATEs (Automated Test Equipment) to validate. In such a case, he/she builds a code and develops design patterns based on the given protocol specifications, and analyzes the results. However, working with ATEs requires deep technical expertise and a huge amount of effort and cost.  


A Two-In-One Solution 


Soliton’s Protocol Validation Suite provides the ideal solution for all your validation needs. It helps you validate your protocols beyond functional tests and ensures a complete parametric validation for your digital protocols and eliminates the need for a huge amount of effort, time, and cost. 


Minimal Components that speak for many Protocols 


Contrary to the typical approaches, Soliton’s Protocol Validation Solution comes with a minimalistic hardware and software setup with the following components: 

–  NI Digital Pattern Instrument (PXIe 657x) with NI PXI chassis 

–  Soliton PVS Interposer Board -For Signal Conditioning (Possible to integrate with Validation bench board) 

–  Oscilloscope – For a few measurements where desired  

–  Soliton Protocol Validation Suite Software compatible with Windows OS (Win 10) 

Furthermore, these components can be used for multiple protocols, making the process free from hardware hassles. Multiple protocols, one hardware! 

Count the Gains! 


Pocket the gains with some niche features of the tool such as  

–  Skewing bus timing parameters,

–  Sweeping bus voltage levels,  

–  Inducing spikes/glitches on the communication bus, 

–  Inducing packet formation faults, and  

–  Measuring bus timing parameters, like rise time, fall time, device response time, VOL, etc.  

Soliton’s PVS tool comes with a set of standard Template Validation Tests,eliminating the need to code or develop any patterns.  

With an inbuilt Report Generation feature, reports are now generated automatically for any compliance test that is executed, saving the manual effort of logging these numerous values. Simply put, it offers Comprehensive Validation and Reporting with Zero Coding! 

Furthermore, the solution also enables you to quickly reproduce the test cases, especially failure test cases, helping in an easier and faster debug. 

What’s more?! The tool can verify the parameters that go into datasheets and return the compliance These can be further scaled in hardware for more protocols like MIPI I3C ®, I2C, MIPI SPMI , MIPI RFFE, SPI, etc.  


Your next best buy! 


With all said and done, the PVS tool not only relieves the Validation Engineers of the pain points involved in protocol validation but also saves a huge amount of time, effort and investment, making it worth the buy and a win-win solution. In your efforts to bring out your best product to the market, here is a way to let us do our bit to make it easier for you! So, brace yourselves, easier validation is finally here!

Written by

Saravanakumar Muthusamy

March 28, 2022