Offering memory testers starting back in 1987 when it introduced a DRAM chip tester, Innoventions has been making low cost instruments ever since. The portable RAMCHECK DDR Pro is a case in point. It's virtually identical to Innoventions's earlier RAMCHECK Plus Pro tester, but sans support for older SDRAM, EDO (extended data-out), and FPM (fast page mode) memory modules.
The RAMCHECK DDR Pro is called a portable, but it's not battery powered. Nonetheless, it is lightweight and can be readily moved from site to site. It weighs just four pounds, and measures 9.5 x 6.5 x 3.5 inches in size. Packing its own switching power supply, the unit operates from any AC line over 100-V to 250-VA (47-Hz to 63-Hz).
Used for testing and identifying 184-pin DDR (double data-rate) modules, the RAMCHECK DDR Pro can also be equipped with an optional RAMCHECK DDR 200-Pin Converter (INN-8668-6-1) so that you can test 200-pin SODIMMs (small outline dual in-line memory modules) as well. SODIMMs are used extensively in laptops. More on the converter in a moment.
As for the RAMCHECK DDR Pro itself, it's equipped with a 128 x 32-pixel reflective LCD with an LED backlight. It's quite straightforward to use, too. It will readily let you test for memory size, and make timing and pattern tests, as well as setting up refresh modes, etc.
All you need do turn it on, insert the memory under test into the unit's ZIF (zero insertion force) socket, and press a Start button. There are no set-up parameters to adjust, unless you want to define your own tests and memory parameters. Its timing range spans zero to 155.5-ns, with a resolution of 0.25-ns to 0.5-ns.
In use, the RAMCHECK DDR Pro memory tester automatically identifies the memory module type and size, as well as its configuration, voltage, and frequency. It then checks for shorts and opens, addressing and identifying defective bits. All of that is done as a basic test.
But wait. There's more. The tester will also test using voltage cycling and voltage bounce, and will do march up/down tests, as well as make relative refresh/cell leakage checks and relative voltage spike tests. It can also handle temperature stress testing as done during burn-in.
An Auto-Loop test exercises a memory module endlessly using different bit patterns. The module under test is continuously burned-in and subjected to varying test patterns. This test phase is active until an error is reached, or you manually stop the test. That kind of exercising can go a long way in finding elusive pattern sensitivity problems.
Addressing capability is 16 rows and 16 columns, for a maximum 4 gigs of addresses. Data bus widths of x64 to x72 bits (parity/checking/correction) are supported; with optional adapters you can use x1, x4, x8, x16, x32, x36 and x40 widths.
Currently, 2-Gbyte modules can be tested, but Innoventions says it will support larger modules as they come into general use. Similarly, right now clock frequencies are supported to 466-MHz, but there's a planned upgrade to 533-MHz in the works, too.
The tester is also upgradeable, using firmware that you can download. Innoventions even provides a freebie PC program that lets you speed the upgrade process. The software includes tools to print, edit, and log test results.
To keep this product up to date, the company also has a calibration and hardware upgrade section on its Web site. It provides information about the instrument, and can help you determine whether it's time to send your test system in for a forklift upgrade.
If you're a board-level computer maker, consider that testing memory on a motherboard can take upwards of 30 minutes. In contrast, this test set can do a diagnostic check in mere seconds.
Motherboard conflicts can also make it appear that a memory is faulty, yet the memory can work properly in another machine. By testing them on the RAMCHECK DDR Pro memory tester you won't discard suspect modules.
Testing Laptop SODIMMs
A word about the previously mentioned SODIMM converter. Dubbed the INN-8668-6-1 converter, it plugs into the 184-pin RAMCHECK DDR Pro so that you can test SODIMM modules complying with JEDEC standards. The main RAMCHECK DDR Pro automatically detects the presence of the converter.
The module size, its structure, and its type are also automatically detected, without the need for any user set-up. Test flow for the DDR modules is similar to the test flow for SDRAM, so there's no need for any further familiarization or training when checking laptop memories.
The INN-8668-6-1 converter supports burst lengths of 2, 4, and 8, with CAS (column address strobe) latencies of 2, 2.5, and 3. Clock frequencies span 200-MHz to 466-MHz, with true 2.5-V testing. The INN-8668-6-1 converter also offers controlled Vtt for true STTL-2 (stub series terminated logic) compatibility, and has parallel testing capability of 72-bits.
Among other features, the adapter also includes fourteen address lines and three bank select address lines to support future 4-Gbyte modules. Current modules of up to 1-Gbyte can be tested.
As you can see, for considerably less than $3000, the RAMCHECK DDR Pro packs a lot of bang for the buck. For more details, contact Scott LaRoche, Director of Sales, Innoventions, Inc., 10425 Bissonnet St., Houston, Texas 77099. Phone: (281) 879-6226. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Innoventions, (281) 879-6226, www.innoventions.com