Cost effective tests for high speed I/O subsystems
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The growing demand for high performance systems in modern computing technology drives the development of advanced and high speed designs in I/O structures. Due to their data rate and architecture, however, testing of the high speed serial interfaces becomes more expensive when using conventional test methods. In order to alleviate the test cost issue, a loopback test scheme has been widely adopted. To assess the margin of the signal eye in the loopback configuration, the eye margin is purposely reduced by additional devices on the loopback path or using design for testability (DFT) features such as timing and voltage margining. Although the loopback test scheme successfully reduces the test cost by decoupling the dependency of external test equipment, it has robustness issues such as a fault masking issue and a non-ideality problem of margining circuits. The focus of this dissertation is to propose new methods to resolve the known issues in the loopback test mode. The fault masking issue in a loopback pair of analog to digital and digital to analog converters (ADC and DAC) which can be found in pulse amplitude modulation (PAM) signaling schemes is resolved using a proposed algorithm which separates the characteristics of the ADC and the DAC from a combined loopback response. The non-ideality problem of margining circuit is resolved using a proposed method which utilizes a random jitter injection technique. Using the injected random jitter, the jitter distribution is sampled by undersampling and margining, which provides the nonlinearity information using the proposed algorithm. Since the proposed method requires a random jitter source on the load board, an alternative solution is proposed which uses an intrinsic jitter profile and a sliding window search algorithm to characterize the nonlinearities. The sliding search algorithm was implemented in a low cost high volume manufacturing (HVM) tester to assess feasibility and validity of the proposed technique. The proposed methods are compatible with the existing loopback test scheme and require a minimal area and design overhead, hence they provide cost effective ways to enhance the robustness of the loopback test scheme.