Why is Hardware Testing Necessary?
The best device designs can overlook potential issues with third party devices. In most cases, there is no way to know for sure how a newly designed device will interact with another device from another vendor or developer. These difficulties are compounded when a new device is designed to be backward compatible with previous models.
Traditionally a new hardware device is compatible with earlier models or versions of the same device. A new version of a device is said to be backward compatible if it can operate within the same parameters of an earlier device even if the new device’s capabilities far exceed the previous model.
Example: A CPU is said to be backward compatible if it can run the same operating system, software, and interact with the same peripherals as the previous model of the CPU.
Maintaining this backward compatibility can introduce new issues at each iteration of a product line. Backward compatibility becomes vastly more complex when certain regulations and restrictions are introduced.
New regulations such as the Restrictions of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) are forcing developers to redesign existing hardware devices to meet new standards. These new devices, while functionally identical to a previous model, are now physically different. Any type of design change, including a change influenced by RoHS, WEEE, or any other directive is cause for concern, as new hardware issues may develop.
Whenever there is a change in an existing hardware device, or a new device is developed that must interact with other hardware components, there is a potential for errors and issues. The sooner these issues are discovered and resolved, the higher the chance the device in question has of succeeding.
What Hardware needs to be Tested?
Today’s computer systems are very customizable and can have almost limitless combinations of components, peripherals, and add-on devices. Developers need to make sure that their device functions properly across
Typical Hardware Combinations
Maintaining an up-to-date collection of hardware that can cover even the most popular items in various categories is difficult, time consuming, and very expensive.
In addition to internal hardware components, peripherals can lead to a host of issues when used in conjunction with various hardware devices. The majority of these devices connect to a PC using a Universal Serial Bus port, or USB.
USB is one of the most prevalent standards for connecting peripherals to computers – it replaces the functions of most of the I/O ports found on PCs. With a transfer rate of 12Mbps (USB 1.1), USB ports can be used for modems, terminal adaptors, printers, mice, keyboards, webcams, scanners, and many other devices.
USB 2.0 uses the same connector as older USB 1.1 devices, but it can transfer at rates up to 480Mbps.
There are thousands of devices that utilize the USB connectivity standard. A USB device must be compatible with the computer’s operating system, installed programs, other drivers, as well as other USB devices attached to the system.
Types of Hardware Testing
General testing of hardware constitutes verification that a hardware device operates as expected under defined conditions independently, or as part of a system. General testing also expands into Interoperability testing or testing to verify a device operates as expected when interfacing with other hardware devices.
Most general testing can be achieved by utilizing a collection of other nResult Services
Designing a product to be backward compatible eliminates the need to start over when a product is upgraded. In theory, this should make hardware testing easier, but in reality, it only expands the problem. Testing new capabilities in addition to retesting previousfeatures expands the testing matrix at an alarming rate. Comprehensive testing is a must to maintain the functionality of the device under previous and future parameters. As with general testing, various nResult Services can ensure backward compatibility is maintained in even the newest products.
Standards and Directives
Design changes made to a given device due to RoHS and WEEE can introduce new hardware issues into a previously sound device. Even if a new product is chemically compliant to one of these new standards, it might not be as capable or bug free as its predecessor. Testing for these potential changes is a must if quality is to be maintained in conjunction with a new compliance standard.
In order to meet Microsoft’s Logo Qualification, a device must pass a series of WHQL tests. Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS) work hand in hand with WHQL, and should always be considered when WHQL certification is required. Before a product is subjected to the final WHQL and NDIS tests it is advisable to carry out a series of pre-WHQL and pre-NDIS tests, or tests that verify a given device will meet all of the criteria of the final test. This gives developers a chance to resolve issues before the final series of tests are carried out and makes sure the device passes the first time around.
nResult has generated specific testing procedures to address RoHS and WEEE directives, and can carry out a wide range of WHQL and NDIS testing procedures.
How nResult Can Help
Almost every type of hardware testing can be accommodated with nResult’s massive library of hardware. Test matrices can be populated with everything from legacy technology to brand new prerelease products. The hardware library is kept up to date at all times with new products added continuously.
In addition to hardware, nResult maintains a comprehensive software library. As with hardware, this library contains everything from legacy applications to pre-release builds of well-known software. Starting with about 375 applications and 330 games, this library is also updated on a regular basis to keep pace with the current software market.
nResult can test your product on every operating system available including Windows Vista, with any hardware and software configuration requested.
The comprehensive hardware and software libraries also allow nResult to ensure your product is backward compatible with virtually any device or piece of software available on the market. nResult can also test your product against new unreleased technologies to ensure that its introduction into the market is seamless.
Beyond hardware and software, there are peripherals. nResult maintains a constantly updated collection of USB 1.1 and 2.0 devices. nResult can test your USB device with any operating system that supports USB, any hardware configuration, any software installed, and any other USB peripherals.
A collection of custom designed procedures can verify that your newly RoHS / WEEE compliant device meets your strict criteria for quality. Pre WHQL and NDIS tests can bring assurance that your network device meets all of the requirements to gain Microsoft Logo Qualification.
While RoHS and WEEE are causing developers to redesign existing and future products, Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) is presenting an entirely new challenge.
Hardware testing is one of the most important
nResult has a wide range of services and certifications that can meet all of your hardware testing needs: