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Validation Tools for New Intel Microarchitecture Codenamed Haswell

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When circuit board designs for desktop and mobile applications roll out with Intel Core processors based on the new Intel microarchitecture codenamed Haswell, a new platform for embedded instrumentation will be able to access Intel’s embedded instruments and perform advanced validation on all of a board’s high-speed buses.

The tool from Asset InterTech called ScanWorks High-Speed I/O (HSIO) for Intel Architecture (IA) is based on the Intel Core processor family and capitalizes on Intel’s embedded instruments intellectual property (IP). Asset is leveraging the success that ScanWorks has achieved in the Intel server marketplace by enhancing its capabilities and migrating it to the desktop and mobile markets. The new tools provide advanced diagnostics, bit-error-rate (BER) testing and margining for the Direct Media Interface (DMI), PCI Express Graphics (PEG) and DDR3 I/O buses. Asset is a key third-party vendor (TPV) to Intel.

According to Intel, microprocessors based on the Haswell microarchitecture and accompanying chipsets will be a key step toward achieving the company’s Ultrabook vision of ultra thin, light, responsive and secure laptops and other types of designs. Inevitably, this microarchitecture with a projected power consumption 30% lower than current Core processors will migrate to embedded applications as well. Crucial to achieving this vision will be the performance of the high-speed serial input/output (I/O) buses that connect processors and chipsets to other devices on a circuit board. When bus speeds exceed approximately 5 Gbit/s, as they will on Intel’s future designs, they become super-sensitive to capacitive coupling effects. This means that legacy testers like oscilloscopes and logic analyzers must compensate for the effects that result from placing a probe on a high-speed bus to verify its performance. In many cases, the capacitive effects of probing can invalidate test results. Some external testers have attempted to overcome these difficulties by resorting to simulation or higher-order mathematics, but these techniques only generate a projection of the actual signaling on the bus.

Over the last seven years, Asset has collaborated with Intel to overcome these shortcomings and to empower design and test engineers with advanced validation and test tools. Because ScanWorks is a non-intrusive, software-based tools platform, it can use the instruments embedded in Intel’s chips to perform validation and test. The reports ScanWorks provides engineers are a more accurate reading of the signal integrity on an I/O bus than are the results from external, intrusive testers. ScanWorks High-Speed I/O (HSIO) will be available in 2012. Pricing for a one-year subscription is $10,000.

Asset InterTech, Richardson, TX. (972) 437-2800. [www.asset-intertech.com].