Allion Labs / Jim Wang

The rapid growth and the pervasive uses of wireless communication technologies (e.g. 5G, W-Fi, and Bluetooth) makes our lives easier, but also brings various wireless signal interference issues. One of the common RF interference issues is caused by De-sense, which we want to discuss today.

Since manufacturers make devices lighter and thinner, the radiated interference was easily caused by components will lower signal-to-noise ratio and wireless throughput in a tiny space. The common Wireless De-sense issue occurs when connecting a USB 3.1 Device (e.g. USB Dongle) to a System (e.g. laptop). That’s why we hear that a few Mac users complain their Mac systems get weak Wi-Fi signal or disconnecting Wi-Fi when connecting a USB-C Docking.

Let’s elaborate more about De-sense issues. As the below illustration shows, the average noise level (with the condition that a USB3 device is connected) is 20 dBm higher than the level (with the condition that a USB3 device is not connected.) It demonstrates the interference is easily generated between the high-speed transmission interface and Wi-Fi (or Bluetooth) 2.4 GHz signal, when connecting USB3 device to the system.

Reference Source: Intel Document: 327216-001 P.10

 

The signal interference of USB3.1 may generate from the connector, the cable or the device itself. The distance between Wi-Fi antenna and the signal radiation of USB3.1 will determine how serious interference is. The closer the distance is, the more serious the interference is, the higher possibility that the system’s wireless receiver sensitivity would be affected. It eventually turns to poor wireless network quality.

Reference Source: Intel Document: 327216-001 P.9

 

In order to solve USB 3.1 wireless interference issues, Allion has proposed the Wireless De-sense testing solution. No matter your product is a system, a USB accessory or a Bluetooth accessory, our RF Testing lab could help you ensure the quality, and further establish a good reputation in the industry. Now, we are going to share the test case studies with you.

 

Allion Wireless Desense Test

 Test Purpose 

To verify the dense won’t downgrade the laptop performance when plugging the USB-C device.

 Test Equipment and Configuration 

To avoid interference caused by by other factors, the test bed, the digital attenuator and the AP are placed in the individual shielding room or shielding box.

Wireless Desense Case Study

1.Wireless Performance Degradation Test

Test Purpose  

  • Measure Wi-Fi Tx and Rx throughput difference between the laptop with and without a USB 3.1 dongle
  • Confirm the W-Fi throughput drop rate (the throughput difference) falls below the standard range. Once the drop rate meets the testing standard spec, it can ensure that users will enjoy stable wireless performance of a laptop when connecting to a USB dongle.

 

Test Criteria  

  • Test each USB-C ports of the system (laptop)
  • The laptop’s Wi-Fi throughput when plugging a USB device should be better than that throughput when unplugging a USB device
  • There are 3 different signal levels. The throughput of the strong RSSI level should be better than that of the weak RSSI level.
  • The testing standard for Wi-Fi throughput drop rate is listed as below:

Test Standard for Throughput Drop Rate  

Level Signal Level RSSI Throughput Drop Rate
1 Strong – 45 ~ – 50 dB  < -5%
2 Medium – 68 ~ – 72 dB  < -5%
3 Weak – 78 ~ – 81 dB  < -10%

 

Passed Test Cases

USB Port Signal No Plug in Dongle (Tx) Plug in Dongle (Tx) Throughput Drop Rate
RSSI Throughput Throughput
Channel 6 Port 0 Strong 45 121 121 0.00%
Medium 69 84.6 80.8 -4.49%
Weak 80 31.7 29.1 -8.2%
Channel 6 Port 1 Strong 46 121 120 -0.83%
Medium 68 83 80.8 -2.65%
Weak 81 32.9 30.3 -7.9%

 

Failed Test Cases  

USB Port Signal No Plug in Dongle (Tx) Plug in Dongle (Tx) Throughput Drop Rate
RSSI Throughput Throughput
Channel 6 Port 0 Strong 48 120 112 -6.67%
Medium 70 60.8 51.1 -15.95%
Weak 79 2639 20.1 -25.28%
Channel 6 Port 1 Strong 49 120 117 -2.50%
Medium 69 60.7 58.5 -3.62%
Weak 80 24.9 15.3 -38.5%

 

2.Bluetooth HID Device Co-existence Test

Test Purpose  

Test that whether the Bluetooth HID device can work smoothly or not when plugging the USB-C device in the laptop.

Test Criteria  

Users could easily type buttons on the tested Bluetooth Keyboard or move the tested Bluetooth Mouse smoothly without lagging when plugging the USB-C device. DUTs would be tested under three conditions with different signal levels.

Level Signal Level RSSI
1 Strong – 45 ~ – 50 dB
2 Medium – 68 ~ – 72 dB
3 Weak – 78 ~ – 81 dB
3.Bluetooth Audio Streaming Test

Test Purpose  

Test the Bluetooth speaker could smoothly playback audio from the Youtube 4K video on the laptop when plugging the USB-C device.

Test Criteria  

Users could smoothly playback audio from the Youtube 4K video on the laptop without lagging when plugging the USB-C device. DUTs would be tested under the three conditions with different signal levels.

Level Signal Level RSSI
1 Strong – 45 ~ – 50 dB
2 Medium – 68 ~ – 72 dB
3 Weak – 78 ~ – 81 dB

Summary

Wireless De-sense issues occurs in our daily lives. Any component works at similar frequency might cause RF interference and downgrade the wireless performance. To reduce potential risks of RF interference, all the interfaces or components, such as HDMI, touch panels, camera modules, or SSDs, wireless modules (e.g. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS) need to be placed in the right area by measuring and calculating accurately in the tiny product space.

Further, vendors would also need Allion’s Wireless Dense Testing Solution to ensure the wireless quality through a series of rigorous tests. Currently, the Wireless De-sense testing has also been included in Allion’s new launched “Mac Accessory QA Program,” aiming to help Mac accessory vendors find out the critical issues and ensure the accessory device could works perfectly with Mac systems. Once the Mac accessory passing the QA program, vendor will receive Allion’s test certificate, one of Apple’s pre-requests to get into Mac Store, also a high quality proof for product or channel marketing. Wanna know more about our De-sense testing or our Mac Accessory QA Program!? Contact at Allion!