Solarflare Debugs, Tests Ethernet Network Cards with XJTAG Boundary

Solarflare Communications, a fabless semiconductor company that provides high-performance Ethernet solutions, has selected the XJTAG boundary scan solution to debug and test its EtherFabric EF1-21022T Network Interface Cards (NICs). The XJTAG system is being used by Solarflare for debugging and testing development boards at its R&D centre in Cambridge, England and for production line testing at its contract manufacturing partner’s (Jabil Circuit) facility in San Jose, California.

The low profile PCI network cards contain 95% digital circuitry and feature several ball grid array (BGA) devices including a network controller and two transceiver modules as well as Content Addressable Memory, SRAM and Flash chips. The XJTAG Development System is designed for testing printed circuit boards populated with JTAG devices such as BGA and chip scale devices. Such devices cannot be effectively tested by traditional methods such as flying probes, logic analyzers, oscilloscopes and X-ray systems.

Engineers at Solarflare’s Cambridge operation (formerly Level 5 Networks) opted for the XJTAG system because it was the only boundary scan product that could exploit the full capability of the JTAG chain to improve the speed and accuracy of fault diagnosis, achieve high test coverage, and migrate through design to production and beyond.

“The XJTAG system is a flexible and cost-effective boundary scan solution that has transformed our test regime and delivered quantifiable benefits throughout the product lifecycle,” said Derek Roberts, VP Hardware Architecture, Solarflare Communications.

“We have been able to consistently get development boards up and running in hours as opposed to days or weeks; flash programming time has been drastically reduced (in one case from 4 hours to 8 minutes); test coverage is well over the 90% mark; and we are making steady improvements to our production line test times. The component-centric test model has allowed us to re-use our test cases across multiple designs (in some cases more than 4 designs), saving a great deal of time.”

Solarflare Communications provides easy-to-use, standards-based, high-performance Ethernet solutions for data centres and enterprise networking. Its EtherFabric breakthrough architecture transforms the performance of Ethernet connections and is the only Ethernet-based performance-enhanced interconnect that maintains 100% binary compatibility with existing standards, while providing easy scalability to 10Gb/sec and beyond.

“Our solutions are designed for use in applications within banks, financial institutions, government bodies and utilities where high-performance networking and product reliability is paramount,” added Derek Roberts. “By using the XJTAG system, we have reduced the overall product development timetable and have improved our production yield, which is good news for customers.”

A production optimised version of the XJTAG system (XJRunner) has been implemented at Jabil Circuit’s 181,000 square foot production site in San Jose, California where the electronics manufacturing services supplier is able to produce up to 10,000 NICs per month for Solarflare.

“Using XJTAG, we have built an automated production line test jig that provides high throughput testing with minimal operator interaction,” added Roberts. “The XJTAG-based jig replaces the high-maintenance functional test fixture and has cut the test time per board from 15 minutes down to around 3. Another benefit of XJTAG and its reusable scripts is that our test engineers can respond to board changes by writing new test code, rather than reworking or redesigning the test fixture.”

XJTAG is designed to cut the cost and shorten the development cycle of electronic products and provides a unique solution that can test JTAG as well as non-JTAG devices. XJTAG can test a high proportion of a circuit including BGA and chip scale devices, SDRAMs, Ethernet controllers, video interfaces, Flash memories, FPGAs, microprocessors and many other devices. XJTAG also enables In-System Programming of FPGAs, CPLDs (Complex Programmable Logic Devices) and Flash memories. Pricing for the XJTAG system ranges from £3,500 (US$6,300) to £9,000 (US$16,200).

For more information about the XJTAG Development System, please contact XJTAG, The Irwin Centre, Scotland Road, Dry Drayton, Cambridge CB3 8AR, England. Telephone +44 (0) 1954 213888, facsimile +44 (0) 1954 211565 or email

About Solarflare Communications
Solarflare Communications is a fabless semiconductor company that provides easy-to-use standards-based, high-performance Ethernet solutions. Headquartered in Irvine, California and with development centres in Cambridge, England and Sunnyvale, California, the company’s mission is to be the leading Ethernet company by focusing on cost-effective, high-performance, standards-based Ethernet interconnects for data centres and enterprise networking.

XJTAG is a specialist design and test tool developer. Its JTAG (Joint Test Action Group) development system offers a competitive solution for designers and developers of electronic circuits. Utilising XJTAG allows the circuit development and prototyping process to be shortened significantly by facilitating early test development, early design validation, fast development of functional tests and test re-use across circuits that use the same devices. The company is based in the UK at The Irwin Centre, Dry Drayton, Cambridge. XJTAG is part of the Cambridge Technology Group.

What is JTAG?
Advances in silicon design, such as increasing device density and, more recently, ball grid array (BGA) and chip scale packaging, have reduced the efficacy of traditional electronic circuit testing methods. In order to overcome these problems and others; some of the world’s leading silicon manufacturers combined to form the Joint Test Action Group (JTAG). The findings of this group were used as the basis for the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) standard 1149.1: Standard Test Access Port and Boundary Scan Architecture and subsequently the standard became known as JTAG.