Wild River Technology LLC, a Portland, Ore.-area start up, introduced a novel "reconfigurable" backplane at DesignCon 2011. "With just a few pairs of matched coax cables, many different backplane configurations can be created to stress-test real silicon," Al Neves, one of the founders of Wild River Technology, said.
With a good IBIS or AMI model of the silicon transceiver, it's possible to simulate the performance of a high speed serial link for any channel described by an S-parameter behavioral model.
But, silicon vendors and especially end users want to test the quality of the models and the actual silicon under extreme conditions. "It's expensive to build a worst case backplane to test the limits of the transceivers," Neves said. "End users are looking for an anchor to reality."
That's where the Channel Model Platform (CMP) product line from Wild River Technology comes in. The 16 x 16-inch board is a toolbox for differential and single ended transmission line structures that can be patched together with coax cables to replicate a wide variety of backplane conditions.
Figure 1 Wild River Technology LLC CMP-08 board configured with coax cables for a backplane stress test.
Neves said the first product in this family, the CMP-08, is designed for applications in the 8 Gbps range, the sweet spot for PCI-express Gen III applications. Structures on the board include short and long uniform differential pairs, vias, discontinuities and novel cross talk structures commonly found in daughter card-motherboard and backplane applications.
"With one board and the supplied high performance coax cables, dozens of different backplane structures can be instantly configured," Neves said.
In addition to the hardware, the company also supplies the measured S-Parameter behavioral models for each structure and the 3-D design files so that simulations of just the interconnect can be validated with the measured performance.
"We're finding that many of our customers are using our boards to validate their VNA or TDR measurement techniques or their 3-D field solver simulation processes," Neves said.
Wild River Technology LLC plans to introduce two more families of reconfigurable backplanes with structures and features targeting the 12 Gbps and 25 Gbps data rate applications.