Wireless Systems Design

Software And Hardware Test Solutions Merge

As wireless communications devices take on more functionality, their designers must rely increasingly on testing. Yet many of these devices' new functions are software based. Often, that software is developed independently of the wireless device and then integrated into the final product. This approach makes it vital for designers to prove that a device's hardware and software work together seamlessly. Where test is concerned, however, a chasm has traditionally existed between software and hardware solutions. Now, Agilent Technologies (www.agilent.com) and Anite Telecoms (www.anitetelecoms.com) hope to close that gap.

These two companies have partnered to develop test solutions that will speed wireless-device development. Together, they will create and promote radio-frequency (RF) protocol and network-emulation test solutions to wireless-device manufacturers and network operators worldwide. Aside from saving time, their combined solutions are expected to reduce overall design costs.

Through this partnership, the companies also hope to mend some problems that are emerging for wireless-device makers. 2.5G and 3G devices combine voice and data to provide a growing number of entertainment and other functions. Such features require that the wireless-device software and hardware work with other communication devices on the network. As a result, designers have to rigorously test and verify their product designs and protocol implementations.

In addition, wireless devices have added components and subsystems to support their new functions. The amount of software also has increased. Data communication protocols, for example, are taking up more and more of the device's code. The device needs these data protocols to run embedded software like Java engines and Web browsers.

Hopefully, companies like Agilent and Anite will continue to help designers overcome these hurdles. The companies' first proposed test solutions will combine the Agilent 8960 hardware with Anite's conformance and interoperability test systems (see figure). These solutions are expected to provide manufacturers with a common test platform. For test results, such a platform should offer increased consistency from early-design RF and protocol testing to full conformance and interoperability verification. This test solution also should slash development time and design costs for equipment manufacturers, type approval labs, and network operators.

In addition to the planned product development, Agilent has agreed to fulfill existing product service agreements. It also will provide ongoing customer support for Anite's 2G wireless test and measurement platforms.

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