SAN JOSE, Calif. Offering an alternative to multimillion-dollar testers, Logic Vision Inc. has rolled out what it calls a "silicon debug station" for engineers. The Validator benchtop unit lets engineers debug prototype silicon that was designed using Logic Vision's built-in self-test (BIST) software.
"There are no silicon debug stations out there," said Mukesh Mowji, vice president of marketing at Logic Vision. "We believe we've created a new market." Validator, he said, will ease the transition to manufacturing by letting engineers debug the first silicon prototypes that come back from fabrication.
"Current methodology involves them creating programs that go on ATE [automatic test equipment] systems," Mowji said. "We've created an instrument such that design engineers will have the ability to debug silicon without having to go to large testers. The price is insignificant compared to a $5 million piece of equipment."
Mowji said that the Validator will perform a "performance structural test" of a prototype IC. He said users can debug silicon at full speed, and can crank through a full range of voltages to see what happens. Thus, he noted, users can do "some level of characterizing" as well as isolate faults down to the gate level.
What Validator doesn't provide is a true functional test. It has no pins, and doesn't inject any test vectors into a chip. Instead, it uses the BIST structures on the chip. It requires the use of Logic Vision BIST software.
The Validator comes with two or four programmable clocks, with a programmable frequency range from 0 to 330 MHz in 0.1-MHz increments. It has two or four 30-amp power supplies with programmable voltage ranges. It also contains a built-in 500-MHz Sun Sparc workstation, and is thus a standalone unit.
The debug station connects to a chip's JTAG port. Users must supply a "load board" that contains the chip. This must be custom-created, Mowji noted, and is not provided by Logic Vision but he said there are a number of load board manufacturers who can help.
The Validator works for digital logic, memories, PLLs and converters. The first version supports BIST only, but Mowji said Logic Vision has broader plans for the future. Users can run embedded software if it can be loaded through the JTAG port into memory, he said.
The Validator uses the same "LV-ready user interface" employed by some ATE companies, which is the same interface used by a designer to create a test database, Mowji said.
Logic Vision is finalizing negotiations with a third party that will be making Validator, Mowji said. The company expects to ship systems by the end of July. Pricing will be "in the $150,000 range," he said, and Logic Vision will provide a one-year warranty.