Gregory Davis, Tektronix
EETimes (7/1/2012 7:26 PM EDT)
Embedded systems typically involve a number of serial communications links running between microcontrollers, peripheral chips and the outside world. Before working firmware is completed, designers often need to confirm that a peripheral chip is working as expected. One efficient way to do this is by correlating inputs or outputs with serial bus data being sent between the chip in question and a microcontroller
But verifying that serial buses are in fact working and sending the correct data can be difficult with a simple four-channel digital oscilloscope alone. For applications such as this, it’s vital to have the ability look at both the analog and digital representations of the signal at the same time. This article describes three application examples where signals on peripheral chips were correlated with serial bus data to verify system operation using a mixed signal oscilloscope.
With traditional test and measurement tools it can be difficult to trigger on the event that the engineer is looking for. It can be nearly impossible to tell what information is present by just looking at the analog signal, and it is an extremely time-consuming and error-prone process to have to manually decode bus activity. Mixed signal oscilloscopes equipped with the appropriate triggering and analysis tools offer the necessary decode and search capabilities to verify system operation or to support debug and deeper analysis.
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