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Employing MDI testing with 10Gbase-T PHY

Posted: 23 Feb 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MDI testing  10Gbase-T PHY  manufacturing challenges 

With the onset of volume 10Gbase-T production, challenges in manufacturing are being addressed to enable low-cost, high-quality 10GBase-T products. Dense 10Gbase-T switches are deployed and in production, as seen by Arista Networks' 7120T and 7140T series, Cisco Systems' Catalyst 6K, Catalyst 4K and Nexus 7K switches, and Extreme Networks' Summit 650T switch series. Innovative PHY designs are further achieving high-quality production of 10Gbase-T products with focused reduction of production costs.

One of the bottlenecks in Ethernet switch production, however, is the need to perform Media-Dependent Interface (MDI) tests. Typically, manufacturers use in-circuit tests (ICTs) to verify the functionality of connectors, transformers, resistors and other components in a module path. To ensure proper performance, ICT must be performed at several points along the path, and the switch manufacturer must write ICT test programs for each product. This becomes a particularly cumbersome procedure in high-density switch production.

Currently, it is possible to perform MDI testing using the 10Gbase-T PHY itself. Silicon manufacturers are enabling the PHY's transmit and receive functionality to transmit a pattern and predict the path performance based on what it receives in return. This new capability eliminates the need to use ICT or to write ICT test plans, and it reduces the process of component verification to a few seconds per module. In fact, almost all of the available 10Gbase-T products in production have the MDI test hardware and software included in the PHY, including multi-port network interface controllers (NICs) and 16, 24 and 48 port 10Gbase-T switches available from top tier networking companies. This enables equipment manufacturers to increase final yield while decreasing test time and delivering a much higher quality product.

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