Although wireless technology has become the communication medium of choice for many types of technology products in recent years, wired communication remains the preferred choice for data transmission, thanks to its stability and bandwidth advantage. Communication standards such as HDMI, PCIe, USB, etc have become essential specifications for all kinds of electronic devices in daily life. Therefore, the compatibility of wired communication standards has become a key focus of product design.
Tony Wang, director of the Signal Integrity Business Unit at Integrated Service Technology Inc (iST), would especially like to remind industry players that in the current Internet era, poor consumer experiences tend to get quickly amplified. He recommends that a thorough suite of compatibility tests should be conducted early on in development to reduce subsequent processing costs.
Wired communication has long been an essential technology for modern life, found everywhere from single devices to whole systems. Whether it is HDMI for TVs, PCI-e as a bridge for information transmission within electronic platforms, or USB as the most popular and constantly evolving standard, they are all technologies indispensable for system operation. In addition to the above three standards, DisplayPort, DisplayHDR, MHL, SATA, etc are also crucial in the modern technology industry. However, Wang points out that while most of the above-mentioned standards are generally compatible and stable, there are still a few standards with suboptimal compatibility that can result in decreased stability as the number of connected devices increases. In addition, given that there are so many brands of equipment in the market, it is still difficult to ensure that wired communication standards between different brands are perfectly compatible with each other. As stated previously, consumers will leave negative comments on the Internet if they find that the connection quality of their device is poor, impacting the marketing of the product and the reputation of the brand. To solve this problem, iST offers a comprehensive suite of testing for connectivity signal integrity.
Comprehensive Testing Ensures Product Compatibility
According to Wang, iST's verification analysis and testing services include focused ion beam (FIB) circuit editing, engineering sample preparation, failure analysis, signal integrity test, material analysis, reliability test, chemical analysis/consultancy, etc. For example, wired signal compatibility verification is a type of connectivity signal integrity test for which iST has a dedicated lab and team and covers a wide range of products, from consumer devices to IT systems. In addition to tests for the seven types of wired communication standards mentioned above, iST can also issue certifications for four of those standards: Display Port, DisplayHDR, HDMI, and MHL. For product analysis, iST also offers testing services for everything from ports and PCBs to laptops, desktops, televisions, etc.
On the other hand, because the compatibility of wired communication protocols involves an extensive range of issues, iST offers testing services for all six phases of a product's life cycle. During the first phase of IC development, IST can test different versions of each standard to help customers fix errors and edit the IC to ensure the chip's functional integrity. The second phase is the integration of the IC application platform, where IST can provide various testing instruments and environments to help customers develop IC designs for the system integration platform. The company's team and lab can also perform system development assessments. During the board-side system signal quality verification in phase three and reliability test in phase four, iST can assist customers with testing both the stability and integrity of the product's signal.
Phase five is compliance testing for various types of standards to certify that products meet specification requirements. Wang explains that standards like HDMI and DisplayPort have specifications set by their respective associations, and products must meet these requirements to be approved to use the logo of these standards. iST can provide testing for most of the standards currently available in the market.
Lastly, phase six tests are for interoperability between branded equipment. Wang says that due to multiple brands of equipment coexisting in the market, compatibility issues between products will lead to poor user experience and causing the aforementioned negative comments on the Internet. Companies are therefore encouraged to focus on compatibility tests before product delivery to avoid potential negative press from affecting the sales of the product.
iST's Extensive Industry Experience Allows for the Most Optimal Testing and Analysis Services
Wang points out that due to a multitude of brands and standards existing on the market, it is difficult to cover all wired communication standards. The scope of iST's testing service includes not only mainstream standards but also newer standards or standards with limited application areas. If a customer needs to test a standard that iST does not yet provide, the company will use its extensive experience to quickly grasp the key assessment points of the standard and build a suitable platform to complete testing in a short period of time.
Even though iST possesses comprehensive capability for testing and verifying standards, what can clients do to ensure the smoothness of the subsequent processes? Wang says that the client should first internally define the product's key features and then have iST work with departments in the client's company to develop a testing plan. While this sort of planning can take more time than the subsequent testing itself, the process is bound to help with ensuring the compatibility of the product once it hits the market.
Generally speaking, large brands usually have their own standard testing plan, and IST's extensive experience in this field can help clients meet the testing requirements of these brands. At the same time, iST is also equipped with a combination of new and existing equipment to optimize the efficiency of the testing process. In addition to offering testing programs for large brands, iST's experience in the field can also aid small and medium-sized manufacturers. iST understands from experience the most commonly seen and difficult to solve obstacles these companies may encounter, and knows precisely how to solve these obstacles. For example, although large equipment manufacturers tend to globalize their product specifications, they still make specific adjustments for different sales regions. Companies must fine-tune their product design to successfully connect with them. Therefore, before establishing a test program, IST will look to understand the client's marketing region and then make recommendations to modify the testing program accordingly such that test items with the highest relevancy are selected to improve product compatibility.
Wang concluded by noting that many device functions require connectivity to another device. For this reason, the compatibility of wired communication standards has become a key factor in determining the quality of the user experience for electronic devices. iST has an established relationship with various major associations in charge of setting industry standards and has even been commissioned by some of them to provide education and training to Taiwan's electronic equipment manufacturers. In the future, iST will continue to enhance its analysis and testing services as well as provide training courses to help Taiwanese manufacturers optimize their products.
Tony Wang, director of the Signal Integrity Business Unit at iST, points out that compatibility greatly influences the consumer experience and is an area that brands must do more to analyze and test.