Breaker Module Versions – How to choose?

Posted: 11th May 2020

 

Breaker Modules form the core elements of our testing solutions for hot-swap, signal breaking and fault injection. Made to suit a range of storage form factors, including PCIe Gen4, they sit between the host system and the storage device you’re testing, handling the commands you send to the device (such as a pin bounce command). The modules allow you to perform a range of hot-swap and fault tests on your device. To find out more about hot-swap, read our hot-swap 101 article.

Most Quarch Breakers have very similar features and vary only by the interface they are controlling.  There are a few optional features, which increase your choices and are important to understand.

 

Feature reduced modules

These are simplified modules: cheaper to buy and ideal for use in larger-scale testing.  Our top-end Breakers have control over every major pin in the connector and an FPGA for high-speed pin bounce and glitch.

 

HS lite modules

‘High Speed Lite’ modules retain switches on all important pins, but do NOT have an FPGA.  This means you lose the ability to perform fast timing events such as pin bounce (contact bounce) and short glitches.  You can still individually control all the high-speed data lines individually though.

 

Lite modules

This is an even more stripped-down module.  This time there are no switches on the high-speed data lines, which are routed directly through.  Power and sideband signals are still controlled, allowing the device to be pulled and plugged for simplified hot-swap control.

 

Triggering modules

These modules have external triggering ports, normally to SMA connectors via supplied cables. This allows you to sync actions on the Breaker with external test equipment.

For example, you can trigger a glitch or hot-swap event from an external source such as an analyzer.  You can also use the trigger out to fire on glitch, hot-swap, and in some cases on the detection of host power rails. Gen4 modules also allow selected sidebands to be diverted out of the triggering ports so you can attach a scope or SMBUS analyzer.

 

Inrush limit modules

Quarch Breakers are designed to be as transparent as possible and so allow very high inrush current during plug, as would occur when a drive is physically pushed into the bay.

‘Inrush Limit’ is an optional feature on AIC/Slot based modules and reduces the inrush current during a plug event.  With this feature, a large SSD with high capacitance can be powered up slowly in a slot, preventing a brownout occurring.

Without this, the inrush current could cause the rail voltage to drop to the point that the host crashes or restarts.


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