Agilent Demonstrates IEEE 1149.6 Testing of High-speed Networks

4/29/2003 - Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) announced the first successful demonstration of the IEEE 1149.6 standard for boundary-scan testing of advanced, high-speed networks. Boundary-scan is a method for testing chips on the printed circuit board by building the chip with additional input and output pins that are only used for test purposes. The new IEEE standard is expected to help network equipment manufacturers improve product quality and accelerate time to market.

The demonstration was conducted with an Agilent-developed application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) that includes over 30 serializer/deserializer (SerDes) channels, each operating at up to 3.125 Gb/s. Also known as AC-Extest, this standard enables reliable testing of integrated circuit boards designed for today's high-speed networks.

Agilent and Cisco Systems led the development of AC-Extest, which tests AC-coupled connections between integrated circuits (ICs) that reside on network equipment printed circuit boards. Until recently, these interconnections were DC-coupled, and boundary-scan test techniques were the primary method for achieving quality assurance. However, new higher speed Gigahertz (GHz) technology introduced AC-coupled connections between ICs, rendering widely adopted testing techniques obsolete. The IEEE 1149.6 standard satisfies the need for an alternate test approach by extending compatible boundary-scan methodology into the AC realm.

"With the establishment of the AC-Extest standard, an industry-wide, method for reliably testing today's high-speed networking products is now a reality," said Bill Eklow, Boundary Scan Technology manager at Cisco Systems and chair of the AC Extest Industry Working Group. "We are pleased to have worked with Agilent and other industry leaders to standardize this methodology."

AC-Extest Results
Agilent incorporated 1149.6 testability into an ASIC that includes more than 30 3.125 Gb/s SerDes channels, and was implemented using CL013G, TSMC's 0.13 micron CMOS FSG process.

Initial AC-Extest results demonstrate the correct operation of the new test components added to the ASIC. These test components augment the pre-existing IEEE 1149.1 boundary scan hardware. The additions include the new AC-Extest instruction in the Test Access Port (TAP) controller, the circuitry in the output drivers that produce full-speed edges, and the test receiver circuit that detects these edges and updates the boundary scan registers. In addition to verifying the correct operation of both the existing 1149.1 DC Extest and the new 1149.6 AC-Extest features, Agilent also verified that deliberately injected defects on the characterization board were in fact detected by the new AC-Extest test patterns. In all test cases, the injected defects, which are intended to mimic those encountered during board manufacturing, caused the tests to fail.

"The demonstration of AC-Extest on a multi-SerDes ASIC exemplifies Agilent's leadership in design-for-test capability, board test, and the development of ASICs for high-speed networking applications," said James Stewart, vice president and general manager of Agilent's ASIC Products Division. "Agilent is the only AC-Extest participant that makes both ICs and board test equipment. We are therefore in a unique position to feature our expertise in both these technologies to solve this industry-wide ASIC test problem."

With more than two decades of ASIC design and manufacturing experience, Agilent offers state-of-the-art hierarchical design methodology and design-for-test capability. The company has an outstanding track record of first-pass success in the design and manufacture of these chips. These strengths, combined with an extensive IP portfolio, facilitate rapid integration of quality, high-performance ASICs for applications including communications, imaging and computing. More information is available at

Agilent is also the leading provider of automated test equipment for the electronics industry. Agilent's solutions enable electronics designers and manufacturers to reduce the design cycle, lower manufacturing costs, and accelerate the high-volume delivery of their products. For more information regarding manufacturing test visit

About Agilent Technologies
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is a global technology leader in communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis. The company's 35,000 employees serve customers in more than 110 countries. Agilent had net revenue of $6 billion in fiscal year 2002. Information about Agilent is available on the Web at

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