DesignCon emphasizes signal integrity

DesignCon concluded last week in Santa Clara, with vendors having exhibited a variety of design, simulation, test, and measurement tools. A key focus was ensuring signal integrity on high-speed serial buses.

In addition, industry experts weighed in on test-related topics. In keynote addresses, Jonah Alben, senior vice president of engineering at NVIDIA, discussed EDA methodologies and provided an example dealing with automatic test-pattern generation (ATPG). In another keynote, Mike Santori, business and technology fellow at National Instruments, described how instrument evolution is keeping pace with design evolution in the adoption of software and FPGAs. Visit here and here for complete coverage.

And in an interview, Jay Alexander, vice president and general manager of Agilent's Oscilloscope Products Division, outlined some key issues that are driving Agilent's innovations in the digital design space. Visit here for more.


Instrument vendors demonstrated a variety of oscilloscopes, analyzers, bit-error-rate testers, and EMI receivers on the exhibit floor.

Teledyne LeCroy showcased its 10 Zi Series 65 GHz oscilloscopes, which offer up to 40 channels; the HDO 12-bit high-definition oscilloscope; and the SDAIII-CompleteLinQ, a new multilane serial data analysis package for oscilloscopes that simultaneously displays four eye diagrams and other analysis. The company also said that Peter J. Pupalaikis, vice president of technology development, has been named an IEEE Fellow in recognition for contributions to high-speed waveform digitizing instruments.

Agilent announced it has expanded its mixed-signal oscilloscope line and introduced a solution for PCI Express 3.0 receiver characterization. In addition, Agilent and SiSoft said they were offering a pre-standard IBIS-AMI Modeling guide.  Click here, here, and here for more.

National Instruments debuted its NI PXIe-5162 digitizer with 10 bits of vertical resolution and a 5-GS/s sample rate; the company also announced updates to the LabVIEW Jitter Analysis Toolkit. Click here for more.

Anritsu conducted demonstrations of its 32-Gb/s test solution featuring the Anritsu MP1800A BER Testers. The company is also displaying its VectorStar Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) platform. In addition, TE Connectivity used the MP1800A BER Tester as part of live high-speed next-generation demonstrations of TE’s QSFP+ active optical cable and TE’s 25-40 Gb/s STRADA Whisper connector. See here and here for more.

Stanford Research Systems exhibited its lineup of test and measurement equipment, including RF signal generators. In particular, the company highlighted its CG635 clock generator, which generates stable square-wave clocks between 1 µHz and 2.05 GHz.

Rohde & Schwarz highlighted EMC testing on the exhibit floor, featuring its new ESR test receiver, introduced in August at the EMC Symposium. The company also highlighted the FSV spectrum analyzer family as well as EMI probes and antennas. Rohde & Schwarz also demonstrated the use of its RTO oscilloscope for troubleshooting EMI problems.

LUCEO Technologies highlighted its optical/electrical bit-error-rate test-and-measurement instruments, including PARALLEX, a modular platform system for parallel BER testing in the 10G range per channel with unlimited channel capability. In a 19” frame, PARALLEX accommodates 15 data channels—with either a pattern generator or error detector per channel. Functions other than BERT can be added, such as clock/data recovery (CDR), clock divider, optical power, and attenuation capabilities. The company said it was founded by engineers involved in optical transceiver design who recognized gaps in test and measurement equipment for optical component and transceiver characterization.

TDK-Lambda highlighted its Genesys AC/DC programmable power supplies, which achieve a power density of 2,400 W in a 1U form factor.

Gigatest Labs highlighted its measurement and model development capabilities for high-speed digital-interconnects to 67 GHz. The company also offers probing systems for multiple-board interconnects, BGAs, test sockets, contactors, PCBs, and backplanes.

Picosecond Pulse Labs, which makes serial data test instruments and components for use from DC to 100 GHz, highlighted its programmable pattern generators to 40 Gb/s, multi-channel pattern sources, and broadband components.

Tektronix demonstrated its new Serial Data Link Analysis Visualizer software package (SDLA Visualizer) for serial data-link analysis and its new 30-GHz Probing System for serial data measurements. See here and here for more.

Introspect Technology, a provider of compact and embedded high-speed digital instrumentation, said it would highlight the new SV1C Personalized SerDes Tester to address a gap in high-speed digital-product engineering tools. See here for more.


Software vendors demonstrated a variety of design, simulation, modeling, and analysis tools on the exhibit floor.

Signal Integrity Software Inc. (SiSoft) announced that it has developed an interface to the JMP statistical discovery software from SAS that lets high-speed system designers characterize extremely large design spaces to make informed engineering decisions. Click here for more.

Mentor Graphics announced the newest release of its HyperLynx product for high-speed design and analysis. Key features include advanced 3D channel and trace modeling, improved DDR signoff verification, and accelerated simulation performance. Click here for more.

ANSYS and its subsidiary Apache Design exhibited modeling, co-analysis, and advanced optimization simulation tools for chip-package-system convergence. Technical papers presented included “Thermal Co-analysis of 3D-IC/Package/System” and “A Reverse Nyquist Approach to Understanding the Importance of Low-frequency Information in Scattering Matrices.”

EMSCAN highlighted a new far-field application for EMxpert, which supports precompliance verification of PCBs. With the new application, developed in conjunction with DVT Solutions, EMSCAN said it is taking the last step toward making EMxpert not only an EMC/EMI trouble-shooting tool but a full pre-compliance solution. Until now, the company said, the focus of the EMxpert was to assist design engineers in understanding where the emissions were coming from and whether or not the corrective actions they were taking were decreasing the emissions. This new application enables EMxpert users to predict a PCB's open area test site (OATS) or semi-anechoic chamber (SAC) radiated EMI levels. The far-field application supports regulatory compliance limits in accordance with FCC, CISPR, and Industry Canada over 10-m, 3-m, and 1-m test distances. The far-field application predicts electrical-far-field levels from existing EMxpert very-near-field magnetic measurements in seconds.

EMSCAN also highlighted the RFX2 desktop scanner that characterizes antennas without the need for a chamber. RFX2 provides far-field patterns, bisections, EIRP, and TRP in less than two seconds. Near-field results, including amplitude, polarity, and phase give insights into the root causes of antenna performance challenges and help troubleshoot far-field radiation patterns, the company reported.

Kozio on the show floor highlighted its VTOS verification and test operating system. The company said it is working to expand the number of processors it supports.

Altium Inc. highlighted its tools for FPGA and PCB embedded designs. Altium's tools support ECAD/MCAD 3-D integration, instant FPGA prototyping, design reuse, and ECO handling.

CST highlighted software products that characterize, design and optimize high speed devices, including PCBs, packages, and interconnects. The tools enable near- and far-end cross-talk analysis and support TDR, eye diagrams, and SPICE models with available native interfaces for major layout tools. Specific tools included CST PCB Studio (CST PCBS), a tool for signal integrity (SI), power integrity (PI), and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) analysis on printed circuit boards (PCB); CST Microwave Studio (CST MWS), a tool for the 3D EM simulation of high-frequency components; and CST Boardcheck, an EMC and SI rule-checking program that reads board files and checks the PCB design against a suite of EMC or SI rules.

DfR Solutions, an electronics reliability services company that performs lab and consulting services and develops reliability software, demonstrated its Sherlock Automated Design Analysis simulation tool, which helps predict potential product failure early in the design cycle.

Polar Instruments exhibited its family of design and measurement tools for critical transmission lines in rigid and flexible PCBs. Products include the Si9000e field solver as well as Speedstack and Speedflex design tools, the CITS impedance test system, and the Atlas loss measurement system.

Components and materials

Components and materials makers presented signal-integrity demonstrations. Molex demonstrated the latest derivatives and extensions of its NeoScale connector, a high-speed mezzanine connector that operates at 28-Gb/s+ data rates. The demonstration featured an integrated test board, a Molex connector, a Texas Instruments chip, and Teledyne LeCroy test equipment. Molex also demonstrated zQSFP+ stacked thermal-management technologies, recounting that wind tunnel testing has been found to offer accurate, repeatable tests.

Molex participated in several technical paper presentations. One presented modeled and measured data to characterize flex circuits; another examined how critical system signal integrity and radiated EMI impact conventional implementation of AC coupling capacitors in a 25-Gb/s+ system through 3D modeling, channel simulation, and measurement.

In addition, Isola Group S.a.r.l., a maker of copper-clad laminates and dielectric prepreg materials, introduced a new signal integrity analyzer demo. Attendees could view the high-speed digital performance of I-Tera, Isola’s ultra-low-loss resin system, in an eye diagram generated by a Tektronix BERTScope. The PCB design used in the demo featured a daughter-card backplane configuration with single-ended transmission lines ranging from 41 cm to 152 cm routed on I-Tera. Isola displayed the signal integrity of I-Tera by analyzing its rise/fall times, eye width/height, jitter at eye crossing, and other key data points to demonstrate the high speed of its data rates.

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