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Protocol tester speeds PCI Express design validation

Posted: 10 Jan 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:agilent technologies? e2960a? serial protocol tester/exerciser? pci express?

Test-and-measurement supplier Agilent Technologies has some measurement innovations for its existing E2960A serial protocol tester/exerciser for PCI Express. The new capabilities impart transaction-layer support with automated protocol checking, error insertion, and real-time performance counters. This is expected to improve usability, with more error insertion and algorithmic data generation.

If you're working in the lab, or performing validation and QA on PCI Express chipsets, boards, systems, or whole platforms, you'll be able to increase test coverage to reduce the risk of expensive re-calls and re-spins.

Perhaps best of all, the E2960A exerciser software for PCI Express is free as part of the product, and is available as a download with the new software version.

The new features of the E2960A, applicable either through its GUI (graphical user interface) or through programming interfaces for test automation, include a real-time protocol checker. It provides 23 protocol rules based on the PCI Express specification defined by the PCI-SIG. With pre-programmed test, it avoids time-consuming programming and search efforts. It also gives a first impression of the reliability of a DUT (device-under-test).

The E2960A now also provides 58 real-time performance counters. These counters give information about the count of individual packet types, as well as timing information. This allows you to understand the efficiency, bandwidth, overhead, and utilization of your DUT.

The E2960A is also now equipped with an in-system port that permits control of the protocol exerciser via a system-under-test (SUT). This feature, which Agilent claims will increase application usability, is the third programming option in addition to the existing COM/Tcl API and the GUI.

The in-system port is intended for programming the exerciser directly from the SUT/DUT, where CPU interaction between the test program and the exerciser is needed. That eliminates the need for a separate LAN (local area network) connection on the DUT.

Record and replay

New record and replay functions also support re-playing packets with the exerciser, captured with the protocol analyzer. In addition to existing drag-and-drop or copy-paste capability, the exchange of packets can be accomplished through a file exported from the analyzer's GUI. This lets you variable-repeat any real captured PCI Express packet. You can do this as many times as needed to test the behavior of a DUT. It gives you a detailed root-cause analysis.

An external trigger also provides a way for the exerciser to cross-trigger other exercisers, or to trigger a protocol analyzer and another device or instrument.

More information about the E2960 series is available on Agilent's website.

- Alex Mendelsohn


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