C-PHY v2.0: Defining Key Insights
Electronic designs across the globe have undergone numerous transformations over the last few decades. Though this is great news, the reality is that it is increasingly difficult to access signal points which makes signal probing a major industry challenge.
With increased circuit integration, the only accessible signals on an electronic assembly are often the high-speed ones. Thus, debugging them requires high bandwidth probes, often reaching in the tens of GHz in bandwidth. However, high bandwidth probes suffer from noise: the wider the bandwidth, the larger the noise that is “picked up” by the probes. Additionally, high-speed buses are getting wider every day. So, in realistic debugging circumstances, there are many channels that need to be measured simultaneously. For example, a great deal of high-speed standards requires a link setting negotiation between transmit and receive ports. This means that all the transmitters and receivers in a high-speed link need to be connected directly to test and measurement equipment for debugging. Traditionally, protocol analyzer probing relied on “extra” buffers, but this is no longer possible in today’s high-speed standards.
Given the current context described above, this prompted Introspect Technology to invent our range of remote sampling heads. These are integrated active probes for very wide buses. Imagine integrating 30 different oscilloscope probes into a single monolithic enclosure! This is exactly what Introspect has accomplished, and it turns the probing problem into a very clean and efficient task. Not only do remote sampling heads solve many of the problems mentioned above, but they also result in a very neat laboratory setup.
Introspect’s multi-conductor Remote Sampling Head provides a simple connectorized interface for easy attachment to parallel high-speed buses. Where multiple probes can result in a messy and tedious workspace, or where signals are in hard-to-reach areas, the RSH1 Remote Sampling Head enables a super clean signal probing setup.
Compare the two photos below, demonstrating two different setups with the same objective of probing a smartphone. Notice in the photo on the right, how the RSH1 Remote Sampling Head provides a simplified bench environment.
Introspect Technology’s range of RSH products incorporates real active probe technology. This means that they offer a high impedance and thus result in minimal loading for the circuit under test. The RSH also provides superior bandwidth and signal dynamic range. It is well known that active probes are the best solution for probing high-bandwidth low-voltage signals, especially when protocol analyzers are required and not just oscilloscopes.
The following figure shows an example of our Remote Sampling Head measuring an 8.1 Gbps PRBS pattern that is typical of a DisplayPort application. Note that this is the output of the RSH connected directly to an oscilloscope, which brings us to the next key strength of the RSH.
An Introspect Technology Remote Sampling Head can connect with any oscilloscope and does not require any proprietary software. What you see is what you get. This is again useful for probing very low voltages. In a typical active probe setup with a scope, the scope and probe work in tandem to create software “illusions” for what the signal really looks like. More importantly, it means that the Remote Sampling Head can be connected to other equipment such as protocol analyzers or spectrum analyzers. For example, imagine you want to probe the power distribution network at different locations on your product – a single RSH can be used to give you 10 measurement points simultaneously.
A metallic enclosure protects the active probe electronics and results in very low noise performance. Compare the two eye diagrams below, and notice the difference between an enclosure without proper shielding and an enclosure with a good shield.
When making ultra-compact electronic assemblies that need to be probed for quality assurance, Introspect Technology recommends the addition of miniature interposers or board-to-board attachment mechanisms. An illustration of such a mechanism is shown in the following figure:
As can be seen, this solution not only replaces individual probes, but it can also mate to the application form factor directly using a standard connector without “solder-down” tips.
Even if you have not designed an interposer and would like to solder down probe tips, then the remote sampling heads are completely compatible with this scenario as well. By adding a small Probe Tip SMPM adapter, the remote sampling head can be connected to individual probe tips.
From real active probe technology to being such a universal probing solution, Introspect Technology’s RSH1 Remote Sampling Head is the industry’s cleanest and most innovative way to probe. As engineers deal with numerous design challenges given their respective objectives, Introspect Technology has always been about making engineers’ lives easier. By collaborating with world-class technology manufacturers, Introspect Technology constantly innovates its solutions and simplifies otherwise complicated test and measurement setups. Our remote sampling heads are proof of the kind of difference Introspect Technology products make in engineers’ lives on a daily basis.
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