Inova Semiconductors ensures signal integrity in high-speed designs

Ensuring signal integrity is one of the main challenges in high-speed designs. Digital transmission in the range of several Gbps is characterized by the introduction of jitter and noise into the signal. What appears at the receiving end does not match the intent at the transmission end when there is any degree of jitter and noise. This applies to amplitude, frequency and phase. Therefore, developers of high-speed connectivity systems have to analyze the signal quality, i.e. what happens on the receiver side, to ensure robust and error-free data links. To support designers on these needs Inova Semiconductor provides the APIX3 PHY Monitor tool, combining a powerful Eye Tracer algorithm with a user-friendly GUI.

Jitter arises from the combination of interference among symbols, crosstalk, reflections, thermal effects and various random phenomena that are omnipresent in electronic systems. For a jitter- and noise-free digital pulse, an ideal receiver samples the data at the center of the incoming pulse. In the presence of jitter and noise, the rising and falling edges can move along the time axis, and the voltage level can move along the amplitude axis. If the signal’s edges are too far off, the correct bit detection conditions may not be satisfied, resulting in a bit error. Eye diagram is a preferred tool to evaluate channel noise and jitter. It is the superposition of transmitting signal viewed within a particular interval.

Traditional eye diagram is measured by connecting the signal (output from transceiver TX) to an oscilloscope, giving results at the pins of the device. With the APIX3 PHY monitor, customers can print the real time eye of the signal inside the receiver (RX). The color coding of the eye diagram (different colors for all hit, no hit and the ranges between) provides a convenient and fast way to check the signal quality. Finally, the PHY Monitor enables a more intuitive view that how the signal quality is inside the receiver device.

In addition to scan an eye diagram of the receiver in real time user can read the status of some relevant registers for calibration and can configure the FIR filter (amplitude and delay) of the transmitter. Other functions provided by the tool is the generation of test patterns, enable/disable upstream, get/set replica gain and the check of bit errors (of internal and external source).

The APIX3 PHY Monitor tool consists of two parts: GUI and the eye diagram algorithm. The GUI will be provided by Inova to its customers so that they are able to install it on their own PC. The Eye Tracer algorithm is already implemented into the latest version of the device. Thus, customers just connect the board with their PC, open the GUI and start with the signal analysis.

About APIX3

APIX (Automotive Pixel Link) is a multi-channel SerDes (serializer/deserializer) technology developed by Inova for high-resolution video applications in motor vehicles, especially in the growing segments of infotainment and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). The latest-generation APIX3 can host multiple display connections with bandwidths of up to 12 Gbps and supports HD and Ultra HD displays. The APIX3 devices are backward compatible with the APIX2 predecessor family and, like these, offer compensation functions for cable ageing and temperature fluctuations. A unique feature of APIX3 is the link training on the cable medium used. This ensures very robust, stable and optimized transmission. With its many diagnostic features, APIX3 supports safety-related applications and meets the requirements of the automotive industry for electromagnetic immunity and resistance.

About Inova Semiconductors

Inova Semiconductors GmbH is a fabless semiconductor manufacturer headquartered in Munich, Germany. The company was founded in 1999 and specializes in the development of state-of-the-art products for Gigabit/s serial data communication. Besides its successful APIX (Automotive Pixel Link) products, sold in very high volume and now in their third generation, Inova offers innovative technology solutions for LED lighting in automobiles and other industries based on the ISELED technology. Inova Semiconductor’s IC products are manufactured at leading foundries in Asia and sold through a worldwide sales network. More information: