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Analyzers graphically probe PCI-X

Posted: 16 Aug 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:pci express? vmetro? vanguard express? protocol analyzer? link analyzer?

With 256MB of trace memoryIf you're adopting PCI Express v1.1, and (likely) working in a Windows development environment, check out VMETRO's new Vanguard Express family of protocol and link analyzers. Each equipped with 256MB of trace memory, the ten members of this family of analyzers will support testing of x1, x4 and x8 (number of lanes) PCI Express card-edge and XMC form-factors.

In operation, you talk to one of these Vanguard Express analyzers using either USB or Ethernet. The USB port operates at 12Mbps.

The Ethernet port can operate in 10/100Mbps systems. Using Ethernet lets you connect to more than one analyzer situated at any networked location, too. To do this you use VMETRO's BusView 5 graphical user interface. BusView 5 under Windows provides graphics, mouse operation, multi-windowing, and file storage for trace data and setups.

Regardless of how you communicate to a Vanguard Express board, they support triggering and decoding of PCI Express using mnemonics. Through a 16-level trigger sequencer, protocol decoding lets you view trace data in lane and packet views, as well as through VMETRO's so-called data view. In all, these views make captured data readily readable and interpretable. What's more two decoded trace files can be compared to detect problems.

As noted in the company's press statement automatic error detection is performed by an integral protocol checker that generates a trigger to the analyzer, as well as an external trigger signal for other test gear.

The triggering system includes eight packet recognizers. The trigger output is a LVTTL (low voltage TTL) signal that's programmable for polarity, level, or pulse operation (it can pulse on stored samples). The trigger position is entirely variable from zero to 100 percent, with 1 percent resolution. A time tag uses a 40-bit counter (4-ns resolution). There are also six TTL trigger inputs.

As for the system's sequencer, it provides 16 levels of operation, using If, Else, Elseif, Goto, Count, Delay, Trigger, Store and Halt statements. Each error includes online help to assist with debugging.

Search and extract functions are also provided so that you can locate samples in the trace display. After a trace is collected, any packet, or combination of packets, can be searched for, extracted, or hidden in the trace view.

Monitor voltage, temperature
Using a voltage and temperature meter, you can also monitor system behavior, and generate alarms if the voltages or temperatures fall outside of a specified range.

The analyzer's ability to monitor voltage and temperature, and to generate alarms if either fall outside a range, can help track down errant temperature-related events, resets, protocol violations, and triggers. This can be very useful in systems that are being tested or monitored in environments where they're not easily accessible, such as in subs or aircraft.

As I mentioned above, there are ten spins of this board-level analyzer: seven are for PCI Express systems and three for XMC. XMC is the PCI Express Mezzanine Card defined in the VITA 42.3 spec. Most processor cards use the PMC (PCI Mezzanine Card) standard to support modular I/O. The VITA 42 XMC spec extends the PMC standard for mezzanine-to-carrier interfaces. Click here for more details about XMC.

Versions and prices
Of the PCI Express products, VMETRO's VX-PCIE-1, priced at $21,950, includes an x1 adapter card, a Vanguard Express XMC module, and license key for x1 link-width support. Similarly, the company's VX-PCIE-4 version, priced at $25,950, includes x4 adapter card and license.

A VX-PCIE-14 Vanguard Express Analyzer, priced at $27,950, is also available. It also includes the statistics engine and protocol checker, but has both x1 and x4 adapter cards, and a license key for up to x4 link-width support. A $29,950 VX-PCIE-8, as the name implies, includes an x8 adapter card for up to x8 link-widths.

VMETRO's VX-PCIE-18 includes x1 and x8 adapter cards for up to x8 link width support. Similarly, the VX-PCIE-48 includes x4 and x8 adapter cards for up to x8 link width support. Both of these are priced at $31,950. Finally, the VX-PCIE-148, priced at $33,950, includes x1, x4 and x8 adapter cards.

For XMC analysis, you can choose the $19,950 VX-XMC-1 Vanguard Express analyzer. It has a license key for x1 link-width support. The VX-XMC-4, priced at $23,950, is for x1 and x4 link-width, and the VX-XMC-8 includes a license key for x1, x4 and x8 link-width support. It's priced at $27,950.

- Alex Mendelsohn
eeProductCenter




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