New release of M1 Oscilloscope Tools™ showcases technology for automatic detection of hidden waveform anomalies

ASA today announced Version 5 of their award-winning M1 Oscilloscope Tools software family. The centerpiece of V5 is a new technology called "Hidden Anomaly Location™" or HAL™. HAL is an expert system that can find a wide range of waveform flaws that might not be obvious to the user such as signal integrity errors, unexpected changes in waveform parametrics, or behavioral problems in PLLs.

Amherst, MA USA…. November 14, 2007

Amherst Systems Associates Inc (ASA Corp.) today announced Version 5 of their M1 Oscilloscope Tools software family. The centerpiece of version 5 is a new patent-pending technology called "Hidden Anomaly Location", or HAL.

HAL is comprised of dozens of independently operating software "agents" which scour each scope acquisition in the background, independent of what the operator is doing, to ascertain the presences of various known "bad things"... waveform anomalies. When an anomaly is located, an annunciator informs the operator. The operator may then view a screen that indicates the status (running/pass/failed) of all of the agents. Any agents that are showing as "failed" can be queried at the press of a button to display a typically-graphical analysis of the details of that particular failure. For example, if the period were drifting, a graph of nominal period vs acquisition is shown with a message something like:

"The mean for the period on Ch 3 appears to be drifting. A nominal drift of 1.2% over the past 23 acquisitions has been detected."

 

However, HAL's contribution doesn't end with discovery of a potential anomaly. On each failure analysis screen is a TELL ME MORE button, which takes the user to the page for that particular pathology (e.g. metastability or reflection or non- stationarity or...) in ASA's Waveform Integrity Knowledge Base™. The knowledge-base is a wiki-like database of waveform anomalies and pathologies. Each entry will contain a description of at least the following:

  • Summary Diagnosis and Suggested Solution Path
  • Description
  • Presentation – what it looks like
  • Causes
  • Effects/Impact
  • Related pathologies
  • Solutions
  • Related topics
  • Sample files – M1 downloadable waveforms so you can see other examples right inside of M1

"HAL is an expert system that constantly monitors an enormous number of aspects of waveform health, regardless of what brand of scope you're using", according to Mike Williams, ASA's President and Chief Product Designer. "When it finds an issue, HAL doesn't just alert you, it provides an explanation and suggested solutions before you ever leave the bench. This is technology that will revolutionize the way measurement workflow takes place in engineering organizations."

Williams went on to note, "The kind of things HAL is looking for include the kind of things you are just very unlikely to find in normal device or system testing. You might have, for example, low-grade metastability on a single transition across several dozen 20,000-cycle acquisitions. From over 25 years of consulting in clock and timing engineering, that's the kind of issue I've seen change release dates by weeks and months. And it's the kind of thing you never see until very late in the design cycle. But that is exactly the kind of thing HAL is intended to pick up. By finding these issues at the earliest possible stage, you have reduced the impact that the anomaly has to a minimum. One of the usage models we are already seeing interest in is using HAL as a screening tool for waveform health, without making any other specific measurements, or by combining HAL with M1™'s built-in automation abilities. Either way you get a fast answer and a lot more confidence there aren't things lurking in your signals that your customer might find."

ASA is applying an area of information technology called knowledge-capture and reuse with their Waveform Integrity Knowledgebase. Entries in the WIK are authored and edited not only by ASA engineers, but also by engineers in the M1 user community. ASA reviews all submissions prior to their being posted. A number of ASA's most trusted customers have already volunteered to populate entries in the knowledge base. Additionally, ASA will be partnering with some signal-integrity heavies like Eric Bogatin, of BeTheSignal.com to make their expertise available to the customers by authoring key entries in the WIK. "Eric and I have been friends since the early 90's", said Mike Williams, "when we traveled around the world together on several occasions, speaking in the old HP High-Speed Symposium. Eric's one of the smartest guys in the field and he can make an especially vexing subject like signal integrity accessible to engineers that don't work in that field everyday."

According to Bogatin, “Having a personal digital assistant sitting on your shoulder and riding shot gun for you when you are focused on debugging your system is a great idea. Even I have a hard time remembering all the possible root causes for effects I see on a scope. With HAL, I’m hoping to leverage the experience of other experts in the field. For example, Mike has worked in the clock distribution field for decades. His, as well as other's contributions to the Waveform Knowledge Base will make that kind of significant experience available to the engineer at the click of a button.”

Hidden Anomaly Location is not the first application of embedded intelligence in M1 Oscilloscope Tools. M1's "AutoMeasure™" facility automatically deploys an appropriate set of measurements based upon the number and type of signals found, as well as vertically scaling the signals to optimize the accuracy of the digitizers. It also tries to keep an eye on the incoming signals to recognize if the signal setup has changed and, if so, reassign existing measurements to the available channels. The operator is always given the opportunity to decline or accept any and all decisions that result from embedded intelligence, as well as to mute the behavior entirely. Agents in HAL can be muted as needed, both individually and by group.

ASA has dedicated a design sub-team to extending and refining HAL. "There are a large number of fascinating new arenas to explore with the HAL technology," according to Tom Zych, ASA's Chief Engineer. "Over the next several releases, you can expect to see significant expansion of what HAL can do and how it does it that go far beyond what we're announcing today. Making HAL a stronger contributor to M1's collaboration value proposition will definitely be a part of that."

Hidden Anomaly Location joins a large number of other powerful capabilities included in M1 Oscilloscope Tools at no additional charge... like measurement work-flow automation, built-in compliance tests, an Rj/Dj capability that employs neural networks to calibrate error and instrument noise out of the results, and numerous productivity and collaboration tools. "Virtually any other company would have made HAL a stand-alone product and charged customers to the moon for it", said Williams, "and actually, they'd pay it because HAL would pay for itself the first time it found something. However, ASA is committed to a product strategy of including 100% of our innovation in the product… no options. HAL is no different… it's in the product and ready to start tracking down subtle and hidden waveform problems now."

Other changes out in version five include further optimization of the user-interface and additions to the exploratory tools to further speed up moving through waveform space, as well as the addition of a chess game. "When M1 is churning away doing all the work, life at the bench can get a little dull. We wanted you to be able to keep yourself entertained. For some reason, chess seemed like a logical choice", said Mike Williams.

U.S. Availability and Pricing

Version 5 of M1 OT will be available December 2007. M1 OT employs "scalable pricing", where the actual price level is determined by the scope to which you will attach it. Pricing ranges from $995US to $7995US in five steps. For more information, please see the product web site.

For further information about, please email ASA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit us on the web at www.M1OT.com.

Information about M1™ can be found at the product landing page, www.M1OT.com.

Further information about Eric Bogatin is available at http://www.bethesignal.com.

You may also request a quote at either This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on the web at http://www.Amherst-Systems.com/onlinestore.htm.

About ASA Corp.

ASA Corp. is an engineering/technology company focussed squarely on clock & timing engineering, and related measurement science. As an innovator and a leader in this field for over 25 years, ASA has helped forge how clock & timing is done today, as well as contributing significantly to what future clock and measurement technologies will look like. ASA’s patented approach to analyzing jitter and timing in both clock and data-streams is instantiated in the M1™ product family, which has become the de facto standard for how high-precision timing is measured. The M1™ family of timing and jitter analysis tools is both the functionality and precision leader in every market segment in which it competes, and is the only tool which runs on the instruments of all of the major manufacturers. By combining unique know-how and experience with industry leading measurement products, ASA is in a unique position to deliver significant, genuine value to it’s hundreds of clients and partners worldwide.

Press Contact:

Bob Russell
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