Nordic Semiconductor today announces that German test and measurement expert, Rohde & Schwarz, has added turnkey support for cellular IoT products employing Nordic’s nRF9160 low power System-in-Package (SiP) with integrated LTE-M/NB-IoT modem and GPS to its industry-leading R&S CMW100 communications manufacturing test set for high-volume production tests. Customers, who integrate Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP in their IoT design, now profit from a reliable, yet affordable cutting-edge test solution that is easy to handle and integrated into their manufacturing lines. The R&S CMW100 is used by the majority of the world’s biggest cellular device manufacturers, often on 24 x 7 manufacturing lines that need ultra-high speed testing and round-the-clock reliability without compromising on test quality.
Testing underpins cellular reliability
One of the reasons for the legendary reliability of cellular networks worldwide is that any product designed to operate on a cellular network has to conform to an independent set of extremely strict physical layer test and conformance standards. “You can’t have a cellular chip out in the world that’s wrongly calibrated because it will cause major problems in both the product application in which it sits and/or on the local cellular network in which it operates,” explains Franz Obermayr, a Production Project Manager at Rohde & Schwarz. “You have to test each and every single cellular product. And in high-volume applications typical of the IoT this is extremely challenging to do at a commercially viable minimal per unit test cost.”
Obermayr continues: “The R&S CMW100 was designed to meet this challenge head-on but to be extremely simple to install and use by doing all the heavy lifting on behalf of the manufacturer. This includes offering a fully flexible and automated software and hardware test environment designed for ease-of-integration into any production test environment. Plus the scalability to test two, four, or even six devices at a time using any brand of industrial PC with our software installed on it and up to three R&S CMW100 test racks.”
The R&S CMW100 is the automated production tester of choice for all of the world’s highest volume cellular product manufacturers because of its small rack-mountable footprint; short RF cabling between tester and test fixture to minimize RF interference and signal path loss; passive cooling that does not require noisy, dust-collecting cooling fans that can overtime affect test reliability and performance; and decades of proven in-field 24x7 dependability,” adds Stefan Krüger, Application Engineer at Rohde & Schwarz.
Krüger continues: “The R&S CMW100 is not only designed to production test all cellular technologies up to and including 5G, it is actually able to test any product employing ultra low-power, Wi-Fi, low power wide area (LPWA), and satellite wireless technologies with equal speed, low unit test cost, and reliability. This is extremely important for cellular IoT products that employ another wireless technology such as GPS, Bluetooth, or ZigBee within an application because it means the regulatory testing for these standards can be done rapidly on the same tester.”
Low test cost maintains commercial viability
“The IoT is characterized by the use of large numbers of small, typically battery-powered sensors and devices,” comments Kristian Sæther, Nordic Semiconductor Product Manager for Cellular IoT. “And with the advent of the cellular IoT wireless technologies of LTE-M and NB-IoT this will mean being able to reliably test millions and one day billions of devices at high speed and low cost. The low test cost is vital for maintaining commercial viability because the IoT devices themselves will also have to be commercially viable in volume. I therefore welcome the native test support of cellular IoT products based our nRF9160 SiP by Rohde & Schwarz on their R&S CMW100 tester because it is designed to deliver this vital capability.”
The nRF9160 low power SiP with integrated LTE-M/NB-IoT modem and GPS is certified for global cellular IoT applications and comprises a dedicated application processor and memory, multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT modem with integrated RF front end (RFFE), GPS, and power management in a compact 10 x 16 x 1 mm package. It suits a wide range of single-device low power cellular IoT designs.