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VeriWave fields test system for WLANs

Posted: 06 May 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wireless lan testing? wlan testing? veriwave? wavetest verification system? azimuth systems?

Determined to end the ad hoc and custom nature of wireless-LAN testing, VeriWave Inc. has introduced hardware and software that tests WLAN conformance and reliability at all stages of system development. Usable in both shielded and open-air conditions, the WaveTest Verification System leverages custom processing hardware, a high level of programmability and advanced timing features to streamline and enhance the test process, the company said.

WLAN test systems to date comprise generic tools such as spectrum analyzers and listen-only protocol analyzers that test particular segments of the test chain and not full conformance to 802.11 WLAN specs, said Rick Denker, VP of marketing at VeriWave. It's not that other companies haven't tried. Last November, Azimuth Systems Inc. introduced a system to test 802.11 conformance in a laboratory setting. Denker said the Azimuth system is "for testing WLANs in boxes, not for structured real-world testing in any environment, which is what we're doing."

The basic WaveTest system includes three host-based Test Points that generate traffic and record responses. Multiple Test Points can be distributed in an environment yet remain tightly synchronized to create virtually any 802.11 test situation, the company said. Test Points can be added for larger test configurations.

At the heart of each Test Point is an 802.11a/b/g RF front end from Agere Systems Inc., two FPGAs for programming to the environment and two Intel Corp. ARM-based network processors. So armed, the WaveTest system enables engineers to set up, analyze and debug difficult traffic scenarios using maximum-rate loading, random traffic generation and other stress tests that expose potential problems, VeriWave said.

"The combination of the two network processors and FPGAs allows us to do protocol analysis rapidly, while also allowing us to sync up the individual boxes with much greater accuracy," said Denker. The system's fast processing, timing accuracy and programmability are needed to tackle complex and evolving protocols and unpredictable environments, and to accommodate multisite development teams, he said. The system includes up to 100MB of storage.

With a PC-based structure and accompanying software, Test Points can monitor and test for such 802.11 issues as roaming, overlapping coverage, the "hidden node" problem, quality-of-service and location-based features, said Denker. The system can test open-air or cabled configurations and conduct collide-on-the-fly interference testing. The latter allows tests with real-time collision of frames based on header information, letting users test the robustness of their equipment to specific interference scenarios. Each Test Point can be programmed to act like an access point, a station or any other 802.11 device-"even multiple devices," Denker said.

The WaveTest Verification System is available now. A base system with three Test Points is priced at $74,000; additional Test Points sell for $29,000 each.

- Patrick Mannion

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