Company News

Swissbit Insights: New PCIe Gen4 Testing Technology

29/05/2024 by Lars Lust

After several months of development, we're excited that our new PCIe Gen4 testing technology was finalized and released for our Berlin production facility in the first quarter of 2024. Since then, quite a few thousand PCIe-SSDs in the m.2 22xx form factor have been successfully tested using this technology, which features 64 test sockets per tester and operates in a temperature range from -40°C to +85°C.

A Significant Milestone

The implementation of this testing technology is particularly a crucial step for the production of our new PCIe family N-3xxx. These products are based on PCIe Gen4 and operate at speeds of up to 2GB/s per PCIe lane. An m.2 22xx SSD typically utilizes four PCIe lanes in parallel for data transfer, achieving a maximum total data rate of 8GB/s.

In-Depth Look

The new testing technology utilizes PCIe switch cards that ensure high signal quality and flexibility concerning the electrical connection between the PCIe-SSDs under test and the testing equipment. This setup also covers the extended temperature range required for industrial products. To ensure the unique connection of the devices under test within the temperature chamber, several printed circuit boards (PCBs) had to be newly designed and implemented.

To practically demonstrate signal quality, we use the latest measurement technology. This includes a 50 GHz oscilloscope for eye diagram measurement (visualizing signal integrity) and a Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) for measuring signal attenuation over a physical transmission path.

Detail view PCIe Gen4 Test System in Swissbit’s Berlin production facility.
Detail view of the new PCIe Gen4 Test System in Swissbit’s Berlin production facility.

Seamless Integration and Infrastructure

Integrating the newly developed test technology into our existing test infrastructure was seamless, aligning with similar testers of that type. Our test infrastructure includes SQL databases for product definitions and test results, tester monitoring in a controlled IT environment, and nitrogen supply for cooling temperature chambers down to -45°C.

This new generation of test technology replaces the previous PCIe Gen3 technology, which has been in use since we opened our new production facility in 2019. The PCIe Gen4 test technology has also significantly simplified production handling.

Looking Ahead: Committed to Innovation and Quality

Currently, we are working on upgrading the previous PCIe Gen3 test technology, which will further expand the testing capacity for Gen4 in production. Additionally, we have already initiated development activities to explore the enhancement of our test technology to PCIe Gen5.

To summarize, the new PCIe Gen4 testing technology marks a significant milestone for Swissbit. It guarantees the highest quality of our PCIe products and paves the way for future PCIe generations. We are confident that this investment in advanced testing will allow us to continue delivering exceptional products that meet the ever-growing demands of the market.

Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to push the boundaries of test technology and ensure the highest quality for our products.