The PCI Express (PCIe) serial interface standard is replacing the older PCI and PCI-X parallel interfaces in computers and other high-speed equipment. Widely used in servers, storage systems, telecommunications equipment, and graphics in consumer products, PCIe uses from one to 16 bidirectional serial paths to transmit data at a rate up to 2.5 Gbits/s.
The most recent version of PCIe, Version 2, should be a formal standard by the end of the year. PCIe2 doubles the data rate on each serial path to 5 Gbits/s. Designing with PCIe is a challenge because of the very high data rates. But Agilent now has a test solution for that.
The E2960B is a complete analyzer and exerciser for PCIe2 and PCIe Version 1 (see the figure). It combines a protocol analyzer and a logic analyzer. The analyzer can be configured from one to 16 channels (lanes). It captures and analyzes the signals to provide an authentic view of all signals and protocols.
As a lane analyzer, the E2960B offers a per-lane display. It also provides 8B/10B decode. And, triggering can be by ordered set. As a protocol analyzer, the unit displays packets, has advanced triggering features, and has a context sensitive display.
The E2960B's Protocol to Logic (P2L) gateway lets designers connect the device to Agilent's logic analyzer line. The P2L feature permits cross-triggering and marker correlation. Also, it provides broad visibility into different parts of the systems, such as the front-side bus (FSB) and memory.
Most test situations need more than an analyzer to fully exercise and test a system. The E2960B's optional Link Training and Status State Machine (LTSSM) provides for full system stimulation and feedback analysis. With it, users can drive products to the edge of their capabilities to verify performance and perform advanced troubleshooting. The LTSSM exerciser also generates training sequences at speed on all lanes for link widths up to x16, allowing effective link negotiation testing a predefined test.
Agilent's midbus 2.0 series probes provide essentially non-intrusive passive probing. The loading capacitance is less than 0.15 pF or 150 fF. The probe impedance is 250 Ω with a sensitivity as low as 60 mV. Three different connection options are offered with a 5-ft cable. The probe handles 16 unidirectional channels or eight bidirectional channels.
The E2960B module plugs into Agilent's standard N2X chassis. The LTTSM exerciser is on a separate card. The x8 analyzer starts at $47,600. With the LTSSM exerciser, the price is $53,000. The x8 probe is $20,000. Systems are available now.