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ASSET’s fast test and programming tools for NXP i.MX 6 application processors accelerate design and production

Wed, September 19, 2018
  • In development, ScanWorks automates complex DDR tuning to optimize memory performance
  • In manufacturing, faster flash programming with ScanWorks enhances throughput
  • In repair, ScanWorks’ automated functional test at processor speeds finds the toughest faults quickly

Faster test and programming tools from ASSET® InterTech will accelerate development and production cycles for designs based on i.MX 6 application processors from NXP. These new tools, which join the ScanWorks® platform for fast test and programming, take advantage of a target agent running out of a small amount of on-chip memory associated with one of the Arm Cortex® cores in a i.MX 6 multicore processor.

“One of the biggest challenges or frustration factors for design engineers is making sure the DDR calibration is correct,” said Larry Osborn, the ScanWorks PFx product manager for ASSET. “This calibration must support the environmental requirements of the design as well as enable the fastest possible access speeds. Plus, the DDR must be calibrated precisely so that it meets the timing margins of the design. Of course, when a design engineer must develop the software for a calibration sequence, it adds no value to the functionality of the product for the end user. In addition, programming speed is another concern because there has been an explosion in the size of system and application software into the range of megabytes or gigabytes. Without very fast programming tools like ScanWorks PFx, software images this large could not be loaded on the assembly line because this would slow down the production beat rate. But if you’re, programming product and putting it into inventory, you’re going to have an inventory management nightmare. Speed, flexibility and time savings are the cornerstones of ScanWorks PFx tools.”

Included with each of the new tools are example board configuration files that support the most popular development platforms from NXP and third parties.

Processor-based Functional Test for DDR (PFTDDR)

Long before the operating system or any application software is available, the ScanWorks PFTDDR tool can automate much of the functional testing of DDR memories connected to one or more of the Arm Cortex cores on a i.MX 6 processor. Instead of using predefined DDR parameters which likely won’t achieve optimum system performance, the PFTDDR tool needs only a few parameters from the user to configure the DDR memory controller, set up the physical interface (PHY) to the memories and otherwise fine-tune the operation of the memory channels for optimum system performance. Rather than about an hour with PFTDDR, manually optimizing DDR performance could take a week or more. In addition, any recalibration of DDR operations triggered by an engineering change order during development can be completed just as quickly.

Processor-based Fast Programming (PFP)

Temporarily embedding a fast programming engine in the i.MX 6’s on-chip RAM allows flash memory to be loaded with system and application software at speeds that will not slow down a production line. Instead of a slower process, such as one based on boundary-scan technology embedded in chips, the ScanWorks PFP tool capitalizes on the much faster speeds of the i.MX 6’s Arm processor and, when available, an Ethernet port to program flash memory up to 10 times faster. And should there be an update or change to the software already loaded into flash devices in inventory, those devices can be quickly reprogrammed with ScanWorks PFP before they are shipped.

Processor-based Functional Test (PFT)

Since it relies on a target agent in the on-chip memory in the i.MX 6 processor, the ScanWorks PFT tool can functionally test the devices and I/O buses on a printed circuit board at the speed of the Arm core. At-speed testing enhances test coverage by detecting cross talk and other forms of injected noise that might typically escape other structural testing methods. Since no operating system, boot loader or other type of system software is needed, PFT is an ideal solution for functionally testing prototype or production boards.

Pricing and Availability

The PFx tools for ScanWorks are available now from ASSET InterTech and its distributors. For product information, visit:

or download our Quick Start Guide for PFx on an i.MX6 Sabre Lite eBook.

Annual subscriptions start at $4,000 USD.