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We Like To Conform

Intel’s X-Lab: Tomorrow’s Network Happens Here
We Like To Conform

Pete struck me as a humble guy and a true team player. In the several hours I spent with him, he only once mentioned a personal accomplishment: “My one claim to fame is probably that I’ve figured out how to automate a lot of this signal testing. If it’s not automated, it’s very time-consuming.”

One of the many signal tests done in the X-Lab involves physical layer transmitter conformance. This characterizes the transmitted signal quality, or, as Pete put it, “makes sure that the signals sent out on the wire are wiggling correctly.” Intel tests these parameters using a mix of equipment, including RF power meters, RF spectrum analyzers, RF vector network analyzers, and oscilloscopes. Quite often, the X-Lab team has had to develop its own custom software tools to assure accurate and repeatable test results.

With the lab’s automated test implementation, a basic 10 Mb/100 Mb/1 Gb test pass can be completed in about six hours. Only about 30 minutes of this requires hands-on operator interaction. Using the prior, manual test bench methods, the same test pass would take about two weeks for 10 Mb and 100 Mb alone. Similar time savings are realized in the lab’s 10GBASE-T testing.

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