STMicroelectronics automates the validation of integrated circuits with NI LabVIEW and NI TestStand
Screenshot of the wizard to install the CSFR (Robust and Fast Testing Solution)
|Author (s): |
Sylvain BERTRAND - ST-NXP Wireless
Jean-Louis Schricke - Mesulog
Emmanuel BOIVIN - Saphir
Automate the characterization of complex integrated circuits in a
comprehensive design environment for use by several teams with
different levels of test automation.
Deploy a software platform for characterization based on LabVIEW, NI
TestStand and software developed by members of the "National
Instruments Alliance Partner.
STMicroelectronics is a leader in the field of wireless integrated
circuits. The complexity of design of integrated circuits requires a
level of validation and characterization to guarantee maximum quality.
To increase the productivity of our laboratories, we developed tools
for automating software test benches RF, using previously based
software NI LabVIEW Test Executive and several custom tools to
facilitate the measurement. In order to encourage code reuse and reduce
development time of testing, we wanted to implement a new standard test
automation, working with tools in the software industry.
An innovative development structure
We used two partners National Instruments Mesulog and Sapphire for
the implementation of a new development, called "Fast and Robust
Testing Solution" (RFTS, test solution robust and fast). Much more
generic than the previous one, this architecture uses the tools of
measurement and testing standards. We have chosen to rely on NI
TestStand, LabVIEW and characterization tools for TS + Mesulog to have
a development environment suitable for testing different stages of
product design, including its characterization. With this new standard
platform, which allows better code reuse, team implementation and
validation of tests can now more easily meet the requirements of design
teams and engineering, as well as their customers.
With the Universal Layer (UNL, Universal layer) developed using
LabVIEW, RFTS offers different levels of abstraction for the
development of control instruments. This layer allows the control of
interfaces and tools but also the interpretation of order to help
engineers to plan their measurement modules, and configuration
management power. Using CSFR, it is easy to share, from one project to
another or between multiple sites, software development for different
types of libraries and the extent of drivers of instruments.
Setting the limits between NI TestStand and LabVIEW
Duplication of functions offered by LabVIEW and NI TestStand have
been discussed between the team members of project development, the
question was how to use these two tools together. With LabVIEW and NI
TestStand, we can develop features like report generation, control of
instruments and loops with different parameters. Our seven years of
LabVIEW, along with experience of both partners Alliance National
Instruments has allowed us to take full advantage of these tools and
develop an environment for validation and characterization of flexible,
reliable and scalable.
In CSFR, we chose to use LabVIEW for instrument control,
especially to communicate with hardware drivers using the NI-VISA and
NI-DAQ. We use the engine ActiveX / COM NI TestStand sequence the code
for LabVIEW, manage the test and record data bases. It would have been
long and unnecessary in terms of development and maintenance and try to
get the features available with NI TestStand using LabVIEW. In
addition, LabVIEW was used to create an operator interface for
controlling the NI TestStand.
However, some features such as generating reports, monitoring
devices and closures on several parameters can be developed either by
or LabVIEW with NI TestStand.
Thanks to the platform CSFR, we were able to reduce development
time and testing to facilitate the sharing of code between the teams.
Thus, each group has to develop its own software for instrument control
and management test: RFTS provides a comprehensive set of software
tools to automate testing.
Sharing and deployment: the keys to a successful solution
The use of this new software environment is not imposed in the
laboratories of the company, the development team has created an RFTS
installation CD in addition to the tools code-sharing to encourage the
adoption of this environment. With the CD, engineers can access the
various elements, such as instrument drivers and sample code provided
by the platform CSFR. In addition, this CD can be used to install
RFTS offers other benefits to our engineers, including a set of
tools we can use for any project and the team. The code is accompanied
by examples of projects and a detailed documentation to help users
quickly become familiar with the tools. In addition, partners from
National Instruments provide maintenance CSFR, ensuring the timely
resolution of problems and the availability of external assistance to
12, rue Jules Horowitz - BP 217
38019 Grenoble Cedex
Tel: +33 (0) 4 76 58 46 28
sylvain.bertrand @ stnwireless.com