For the manufacturer of electronic devices the old cliché “time is money” manifests itself in the cost-of-test, commonly expressed in units like cents per second. Minimizing test time reduces costs and enables faster time-to-market. So, the goal is to obtain the minimum test time without compromising the ability to catch failures. To achieve this end, testing in non-link mode has become very attractive and very necessary.
The traditional Bluetooth test method uses link-based mode. For this approach, the tester establishes a link with the DUT over the RF channel using the normal Bluetooth protocol – as if the tester were a Bluetooth device. This approach gained popularity because it did not require any special test software to communicate with the DUT; however, the cost of this approach is high because of the time required to establish the link. Since the goal of production test is to identify assembly defects and not to test the protocol software, the extra time it takes to load and unload, and communicate with the protocol software stack wastes precious time…costing you not only time but more importantly, money.
For non-link mode test, the tester communicates with DUT over a cable via HCI with the DUT in a special test mode. Non-link mode is faster than link mode because the tester does not have to establish a protocol link with the DUT and control of the DUT is faster over the cable as opposed to over the RF channel. Today, most major chipsets support non-link mode.
Non-link mode testing adds a couple of new requirements:
- Special DUT-driver capability
- Upfront development of a test program
The figure below represents a comparison between link-based and non-link based Bluetooth control
LitePoint has pioneered the use of non-link testing to verify Bluetooth chipsets functionality in a manufacturing environment with its innovative wireless test equipment and technology.
Today, manufacturers of Bluetooth wireless devices can leverage LitePoint’s extensive software expertise to accelerate the development of a test program for their Bluetooth devices. In a high-volume manufacturing environment, the significant reduction in test time using a system such as the LitePoint IQ2010 test system can easily offset the software development effort required up front.