FAQs: Looking for technical tips and fixes?

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A Breaker is a device to enable automated hot-plug and physical layer interruption testing.  Breakers sit between removable parts of a system, such as a host and storage device, or two sides of a cabled link.  They are almost totally transparent and do not re-time or re-drive the data signals.  Individual switches on each pin of the connector allow us to create everything from a data glitch to a complex multi-staged hotplug with pin-bounce simulation.

These simple fixtures allow power to be injected into a device under test, from our range of Programmable Power Modules.  This removes the need for custom cabling or modifications in order to supply a device from an external source.

This allows automated cable re-routing, so test racks can be reconfigured remotely and equipment used more effectively.  Signals are routed on the physical layer so there is no retiming of the data. The host and device will run as if they were directly cabled together.

Power Modules

This product can supply power to a storage device, supporting both SAS and PCIe dual-rail voltage levels.  The supply can be programmed with voltage margining, power loss, brownout, glitch and more being supported at microsecond resolution.  

The measurement side allows capture of voltage/current/power values at up to 250k Samples per second.  At lower rates, capture can run almost indefinitely, with our software capable of handling up to 1TB of power data.  A simple API allows the PPM to run fully automated tests.

The HD is the newer model, supporting higher current output, faster capture rates, automatic voltage range selection and LAN control.  The HD is also available in a 6 output rack mount form factor.  The older XLC module is still compatible with our existing software and automation scripts.

Via Quarch Power Studio from easy manual control and analysis, or via Python scripts for simple automated testing.  Direct access to the raw measurement data is easily available if you prefer to do your own processing.


We support almost every removable form factor, including the cutting edge designs in development by our customers. We can also create custom modules in reasonably small numbers if we don’t have what you need right now.

The interposer design adds an additional set of connectors into the system along with a small additional trace length and the RF switch used.  This loss is generally small in comparison to the total losses that can occur in a real system.  With our module in place, you should expect to see a clean link with no incrementing of the physical layer error counters.

Triggering versions have 2 external triggering connectors, generally to SMA output.  The device firmware also adds a range of new features.  You can use an external trigger to start an action on the device (glitch, power up, run pattern and similar).  You can also choose to trigger out when an action occurs.  On newer modules, you can even trigger out on detection of the host power rails, or use the trigger ports to output the state of monitored side band signals for easy scoping.

Our products are designed to fit with minimum mechanical changes.  In many cases you can fit them within a rack.  In some cases (PCIe slot for example) you may need additional space and need to re-arrange some equipment.

High speed data is switched using RF switches and is not redriven, retimed or sampled in any way.  Many more recent modules do have the ability to monitor selected sideband signals, allowing you to sample the state of a signal or even output the signal to a triggering power in real time.

In our top end ‘HS’ modules we generally switch every high high speed signal, including each side of the differential pair.  We also switch every power rail and active sideband signal. Ground pins remain permanently connected.  ‘Lite’ modules are designed for a simple power cycle and control only power and critical sidebands needed to perform a hot-swap.

Most of our software and script examples are cross platform and tested on Windows, Linux and MacOS. Some older software, such as Testmonkey, is Windows only.

Definitely! The greatest benefit of testing comes when you can find issues as early as possible in the design process.  The sooner you start testing, the more benefit you will get and the more time, money and hassle you can save.

The modular ‘Torridon’ system describes the range of controllers and modules which make up our hot-swap and physical layer fault injection system.  These connect via a ‘Torridon’ cable, which is a flexible flat cable with a 8 pin header.

You can use our simple Python API, or one of our pre-built applications such as Testmonkey or Power Studio.  You can also write your own code to interface directly with our equipment if you prefer.

We can improve your testing, from the time you receive your earliest prototype.  Our products allow you to reuse automated tests again and again, even between generations of products.  This allows you to verify features such as hot-plug and fault tolerance very easily.  

Instead of running a small number of complex manual tests, which may involve damage to hardware, you can instead run hundreds of automated test scenarios and spend your engineering time to improve the end product.

Even when two products follow the same standard, there are many points of uncertainty.  For an enterprise grade system, it is not nearly enough to plug a drive into a system and see that it runs.  Tiny differences in timings or implementation may leave edge cases that could cause a crash or data loss.  This is before we consider that the devices you are integrating may not even meet the spec at all!


If you expect your system to operate for years in a data center, you require a great deal of additional testing.  Our automated hot-plug physical layer fault injection testing is a key part of any industry standard test plan.

Quarch makes small runs of many products to support our wide range of customers.  If you need something custom, we can certainly help you.  If this is an upcoming new product, we can handle your project under NDA with the highest level of privacy. The cost will depend on what you need and if it is possible for us to sell to others, we are efficient though and can reuse existing designs to keep costs to a minimum for you.


You can expect the highest level of tailored care to suit your needs and expert technical advice from our team of dedicated engineers.

We pride ourselves on our customer care and are here to help with any questions you may have. Check out our support page for quick answers, downloads and ways to contact us – or visit our regional sellers page if you require a service specific to your region.

We recommend registering with Quarch to keep up to date with news & technical information, and to keep track of downloads or favourite products.

We aim to keep you running for the long term!

We offer a 12 month return-to-base warranty on hardware and beyond that we repair anything we can at cost price, even if we do not make it any more.

To read our warranty in full, visit our warranty page.

Quarch provides a calibration service, shipped back to the UK (contact your reseller or support@quarch.com for details).

Simco in the US provide a local service for QTL1999 and QTL1995 (HD PPM) devices.

It is possible to calibrate HD PPM devices in your own lab, this requires a calibration kit from Quarch and a Keithley 2460 SMU.

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