Most engineers follow their company’s best practices and guidelines – yet it may happen that the prototype doesn’t work as expected. What is going on?
What we often notice when a design needs troubleshooting, is that the engineers have continued to use a way of working that always has been good practice – but no longer is. Since speeds are getting higher, edges are getting steeper and everything on the board gets smaller, a technology update may cause good ways of working to unexpectedly fail. Unfortunately, that comes to light only after the prototype has been made. Then you find out the hard way you should have done something in a different, new way at an earlier stage of the project….
Is all lost and should you start over? Do you need to spend sleepless nights trying to get it done before the deadline?
As many of our customers will tell you (in a private conversation): if there is a way to solve your pressing issues, we will find it for you. We’ve done so for many companies in the past. Read here here how we helped to save the prototype for a customer with DDR4 memory issues….
What can you do if your prototype doesn’t work?
We have a standard approach for finding issues in a prototype. You may try this yourself too:
- Check the schematics and the PCB layout
- Carry out a signal integrity analysis and timing analysis on common nuisances such as the DDR4 interface or other high-speed interfaces
- Carry out a power integrity analysis on the power rails of, for instance, the memory
- Review the FPGA code, low-level software and/or choice of settings
Our tip: always ask the help of someone who still has a fresh view on your design. Looking for outside help? Just call us to hear our ideas on how we can help solve the issues you are facing now.
What about next time?
If you want us to, we’ll help too to prevent a recurrence of your current predicament for the next time. For instance by running analysis and simulations before you turn your next idea into a prototype. Here you find our services.
“Our project was stuck for months because the high-speed DSP generated random bit errors at random times,” says Alex from Midware.
“Sintecs analyzed the signal and power integrity and found that the grounds were not connected properly. In addition, they advised a redesign with a different stack-up of PCB layers to optimize the use of power planes as decoupling capacitor.
Since then, we have had no more issues with return currents and the resulting bit errors.”
*For reasons of discretion, we cannot put our real customer’s name on the website.