Electronic Design

Oscilloscope Software Automatically Detects Hidden Waveform Anomalies

All digital oscilloscopes come with their own measurement and analysis software to perform basic and advanced tests and measurements. You can also get a great thirdparty scope analysis software package from Amherst Systems Associates (ASA Corp.). Known as the M1 Oscilloscope Tools, it runs on virtually any modern digital sampling scope from Agilent, LeCroy, Tektronix, or Yokogawa.

The software offers measurement workflow automation and built-in compliance tests. An Rj/ Dj jitter capability employs neural networks to calibrate error and instrument noise out of the results. M1 OT also includes a huge analysis library and offline analysis functions. Its inventive exploration/debug capability makes waveform analysis faster and easier. And, the centerpiece of M1 OT’s Version 5 is a new patent-pending technology called Hidden Anomaly Location (HAL).

The HAL artificial intelligence expert system runs on your oscilloscope. It finds waveform integrity problems, including very subtle flaws that could leave you scratching your head, like pathological phase-locked loop (PLL) behavior and metastability problems. HAL comprises dozens of independently operating software agents that scour each scope acquisition in the background, independent of what you are doing, to ascertain the presence of various known “bad things” we call wave anomalies.

When an anomaly is detected, an annunciator informs you so you may view a screen indicating the status of all agents. Failed agents can be queried to display a typical graphical analysis showing the details of the failure. HAL dips into its knowledge base to identify the particular pathology, whether it’s metastability or reflection or whatever.

“The kind of things HAL is looking for includes things you are just very unlikely to find in normal device or system testing,” says Mike Williams, president of ASA. “You might have, for example, low-grade metastability on a single transition across several dozen 20,000-cycle acquisitions. From over 25 years of consulting in clock and timing engineering, that’s the kind of issue I’ve seen change release dates by weeks and months. And it’s the kind of thing you never see until very late in the design cycle. But that is exactly the kind of thing HAL is intended to pick up.”

Other improvements in Version 5 include optimization of the user interface and additions to the exploratory tools to further speed up movement through the waveform space. You can even play a game of chess, included in the software, while M1 OT is churning away at the analysis. M1 OT is available in five different levels with pricing from $995 to $7995. Check out the details and some instructional videos at the company Web site.

Amherst Systems Associates

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