ASSET's fast test and programming tools for NXP i.MX6 application processors accelerate design and production

September 19, 2018 ASSET InterTech
ScanWorks PFTDDR\'s downloadable agents calibrate and test DDR.
ScanWorks PFTDDR\'s downloadable agents calibrate and test DDR.

- In development, ScanWorks automates complex DDR tuning to optimize memory performance

- In manufacturing, faster flash programming with ScanWorks enhances throughput

- In repair, ScanWorks’ automated functional test at processor speeds finds the toughest faults quickly

Richardson, TX (September 19, 2018) – Faster test and programming tools from ASSET® InterTech will accelerate development and production cycles for designs based on i.MX 6 application processors from NXP. These new tools, which join the ScanWorks® platform for fast test and programming, take advantage of a target agent running out of a small amount of on-chip memory associated with one of the Arm Cortex® cores in a i.MX 6 multicore processor.

“One of the biggest challenges or frustration factors for design engineers is making sure the DDR calibration is correct,” said Larry Osborn, the ScanWorks PFx product manager for ASSET. “This calibration must support the environmental requirements of the design as well as enable the fastest possible access speeds. Plus, the DDR must be calibrated precisely so that it meets the timing margins of the design. Of course, when a design engineer must develop the software for a calibration sequence, it adds no value to the functionality of the product for the end user. In addition, programming speed is another concern because there has been an explosion in the size of system and application software into the range of megabytes or gigabytes. Without very fast programming tools like ScanWorks PFx, software images this large could not be loaded on the assembly line because this would slow down the production beat rate. But if you’re, programming product and putting it into inventory, you’re going to have an inventory management nightmare. Speed, flexibility and time savings are the cornerstones of ScanWorks PFx tools.”

Included with each of the new tools are example board configuration files that support the most popular development platforms from NXP and third parties.

Processor-based Functional Test for DDR (PFTDDR)

Long before the operating system or any application software is available, the ScanWorks PFTDDR tool can automate much of the functional testing of DDR memories connected to one or more of the Arm Cortex cores on a i.MX 6 processor. Instead of using predefined DDR parameters which likely won’t achieve optimum system performance, the PFTDDR tool needs only a few parameters from the user to configure the DDR memory controller, set up the physical interface (PHY) to the memories and otherwise fine-tune the operation of the memory channels for optimum system performance. Rather than about an hour with PFTDDR, manually optimizing DDR performance could take a week or more. In addition, any recalibration of DDR operations triggered by an engineering change order during development can be completed just as quickly.

Processor-based Fast Programming (PFP)

Temporarily embedding a fast programming engine in the i.MX 6’s on-chip RAM allows flash memory to be loaded with system and application software at speeds that will not slow down a production line. Instead of a slower process, such as one based on boundary-scan technology embedded in chips, the ScanWorks PFP tool capitalizes on the much faster speeds of the i.MX 6’s Arm processor and, when available, an Ethernet port to program flash memory up to 10 times faster. And should there be an update or change to the software already loaded into flash devices in inventory, those devices can be quickly reprogrammed with ScanWorks PFP before they are shipped.

Processor-based Functional Test (PFT)

Since it relies on a target agent in the on-chip memory in the i.MX 6 processor, the ScanWorks PFT tool can functionally test the devices and I/O buses on a printed circuit board at the speed of the Arm core. At-speed testing enhances test coverage by detecting cross talk and other forms of injected noise that might typically escape other structural testing methods. Since no operating system, boot loader or other type of system software is needed, PFT is an ideal solution for functionally testing prototype or production boards.

About ASSET InterTech

ASSET InterTech (www.asset-intertech.com) is a leading supplier of tools to debug, validate and test software and hardware. The company’s SourcePoint™ software debug and trace platform and ScanWorks platform for fast test and programming work in tandem to give engineers real insight from code to silicon. SourcePoint is a best-in-class, powerful debugger that includes advanced trace tools to gather data from code and quickly debug complex embedded software systems. ScanWorks includes fast test and programming tools that accelerate the development and production of circuit boards. Together, SourcePoint and ScanWorks empower engineers with tools and technology for the entire life-cycle of a system, beginning with development, through production and into field service. ASSET InterTech is located at 2201 North Central Expressway, Suite 105, Richardson, TX 75080, or call 888-694-6250.

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