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Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 will Create Huge Market Opportunity for Embedded Instrumentation in the Future
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The demand for test & measurement (T&M) equipment if persistent for any type of electronic systems manufactured across industry verticals such as automotive, telecommunications, aerospace, military, consumer electronics, industrial, and medical. With the exponentially increasing demand for reducing the size of electronic devices and increasing their functionality, in hand with the semiconductor and printed circuit boards (PCB) technology advancements. These factors have also increased the complexity of testing electronic devices. Traditionally, these types of testing are done using bench-top and PC-based T&M equipment via probes. Over time, the limitations of these technologies have made intrusive testing incapable of assessing complex PCBs, chips, chip-to-chip interconnects, input/output (I/O) buses, and integrated circuits (IC). Moreover, the present-day chips house billions of transistor gates, which have vastly increased device complexities, and lead to the development of multi-core chips, multiple dies with new complex packaging, and 3D ICs, making the design, testing, validation, and debugging process more complicated.Embedded instrumentation is a non-intrusive testing technology which overcomes all the limitations of traditional test equipment for testing complex PCBs, chips, chip-to-chip interconnects, I/O buses, and ICs. Embedded instrumentation is a concept of entrenching and enhancing the capabilities of traditional external test equipment as an additional resource on the chip and/or on dedicated instrumentation chips on a circuit board for performing boundary scan test, process control test, I/O instrumentation test, FPGA assisted test, and embedded diagnostic test. Then, through industry standard access mechanisms, software is used to run the instrument and collect data for analysis. Boundary scan test has been used since the early 1990s, and is accepted as a fundamental embedded instrumentation technology and as a very effective tool for covering structural faults. The IEEE 1149.1 Boundary Scan Standard was initially developed to test the electrical continuity of interconnections between ICs on boards, modules, and other substrates.Embedded instrumentation is a software-based testing solution, with very less hardware intervention. The embedded testing architecture is also embedded with the system architecture at the chip level and accessed through software for performing tests. On the technology front, it has been observed that test solutions have witnessed a shift from hardware- to software-based strategies. The most important advantage is that software-based solutions are far more flexible. The major initiative for the paradigm shift toward a probe-less testing solution stems from the miniaturization of electronic devices, which renders testing by probes practically impossible. The evolution of chip technology in terms of miniaturization, speed and complexity has also escalated geometrically. Chip-to-chip interconnects and I/O buses have high-speed data transfer rates in term of Gbps.
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