JANUARY 21, 2008 By Stephen Hardy -- Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. (search for Vitesse) says it has developed a technology through which design engineers and end users will be able to view waveforms within an IC, thus improving signal analysis capabilities. The company plans to incorporate the technology, called VScope, into chips for storage array, router/switch, server, and video distribution applications.
Vitesse says the new capability in essence embeds the oscilloscope function into the IC, and thus onto the desktop of a single engineer or those of a design team through support of remote monitoring. The company touts the technology as the first to enable true in-line imaging of real time data streams on a per-pin basis. It expects VScope technology to have a significant impact on backplane design, signal integrity analysis, test and measurement equipment, and remote monitoring in communication systems.
The VScope technology is integrated with the input receiver and taps the incoming signal from the SERDES channel after the equalization function. The results of the tap are then sent to an external microprocessor, with almost all of the processing performed off chip. The technology has less than a 5% effect on power dissipation, according to Juan Garza, product marketing manager for signal integrity products at Vitesse.
The data acquisition architecture uses dual adjustable sampling channels for simultaneously receiving and scanning. It supports Q factor, jitter, and rise/fall time measurements as well as optimal sampling point calculations. Garza says VScope provides better accuracy versus standard external measurement methods because it reflects the true behavior of the data stream as it is captured. This avoids correlation errors between the measurement circuitry and live data path. While the VScope, delivers a clear view of the internal IC signal, conventional oscilloscopes can only provide an extrapolated view of signals from outside the chip.
In addition, carriers and other system users can take advantage of the VScope capabilities to monitor system and network health.
"Vitesse's approach to embedded waveform viewing technology will certainly drive signal analysis across the network, resulting in greater network reliability for end-users," said Will Strauss, principal analyst for Forward Concepts. "They have brought to market a solution that enables exceptionally high accuracy and newfound visibility critical for cost-effective system debug and remote monitoring. As well, the advanced 'micro-oscilloscope' afforded by VScope will spark the advent of new applications that go beyond the reach of today's lab scope functionality."
Vitesse plans to introduce the first VScope-enabled chip early next month. Evaluation boards will be available in the second quarter of 2008.