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As a test engineer, you want to develop and test some of the most complex and never-seen-before product designs. You are avidly looking for the tools and solutions that will simplify carrying out your tasks. With complex product designs, the automatic reflex is to assume that the test and measurement process also increases in complexity. However, it doesn’t have to remain this way. In fact, Introspect’s mission has always been to empower test engineers in the industry thanks to its user-friendly products. One aspect of the user-friendliness, stems from the form factors that speak for the product.

Since each product has its own form factor, by default each product is driven by separate software instances through Introspect’s software environment, Pinetree. If a user has several products though, this would mean the same amount of software instances leading to confusion and a general sense of overwhelm. It is becoming more and more common for users to want to use several products simultaneously and several software instances just won’t do. So, combining form factors allows users to operate several products at the same time, all while using one software instance!

Let’s take a closer look at two different modes of combined form factors and the flexibility they offer users to set up sophisticated test benches.

Figure 1: Four extended 16-channel SV5C effectively form one 64-channel SV5C

Channel Extension

In this mode, multiple Introspect products are used as one. It requires multiple identical instruments (same hardware & firmware). A single component, such as a TxChannelList, will be able to target multiple instruments at the same time.

Channel extension can only be used with identical SerDes products, and cannot be used with the following product lines:

  • MIPI
  • DisplayPort
  • I3C
  • SLVS

The best use-case for this feature is when users need to do very similar things on identical hardware, such as running many BertScans at the same time, or setting up many patterns via a single TxChannel list. An example is highlighted in Figure 1.

Once setup, the software is used in a similar fashion to the single-hardware care: the extra hardware is available as extra channels. In this example, since SV5C_16C12G has 16 channels, IespA is responsible for channels 1-16, IespB for channels 17-32, etc.

When applicable, channel extension is an easy way to coordinate multiple Introspect hardware together. It is less complex than the more general method described below.

Multiple Hardware

In this mode, multiple Introspect products are used independently. Each product has its own set of components, which cannot interact with each other, but can be used concurrently in the test procedure code. This is quite like having multiple test windows open, with each window connected to a different piece of hardware. Internally, different hardware are referred to as “iesp objects”.

Figure 2: Combining different products in multi-hardware mode keeps them independent.

Unlike channel extension, any combination of Introspect products can be used together in multi-hardware mode. This flexibility enables the creation of tightly integrated test benches to validate multiple aspects of the same DUT(s). While the components for different hardware components may not be mixed, they may all be referred to from the same Python code in the test Procedure.

While channel-extended combined form factors are just used as normal, multiple hardware requires the user to select which hardware they want to configure the components on.

Curious for more?

This is a high-level glance at combined form factors and the next logical step is to learn how to navigate the form factors on Pinetree itself. To learn how to do so, send us an email at and we will be glad to send you the application note on how to do this.

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