Electronic Design

Instruments Test, Validate InfiniBand System Designs

Last year saw the announcement of the InfiniBand switch architecture. Engineers now need to test their InfiniBand designs. With this in mind, Agilent's E2950 series of test instruments helps users identify and understand InfiniBand prototype problems, thereby accelerating design and system validation.

The series comprises the E2951A Protocol Analyzer and the E2953A Traffic Generator. Combined, they can validate a host-channel adapter (HCA) of a server, target-channel adapters (TCAs), and even complete switches. Also, they let users stress the system from the I/O site, monitor system performance, and test with worst-case scenarios in a fully predictable and controllable way.

Engineers can use the devices to verify traffic policing and correctly handle routing tables and virtual lanes. An interactive GUI deals with all levels of the InfiniBand protocol and contributes to an understanding of how InfiniBand works.

Users operate both instruments from an external Windows-based PC, connected to the system via a USB. Regardless of "message level" or "bit-level" data-representation requirements, the GUI supplies information with a mouse click. Data can then be displayed within the InfiniBand protocol. For example, depending on the packet content, the GUI can differentiate between reliable and nonreliable connections.

The E2951A Protocol Analyzer is a standalone instrument configured with a 2.5-Gbit/s InfiniBand front-end module. Its USB connector interfaces with the controlling PC, trigger I/O connectors, and an InfiniBand 1X interface. It plugs in between the two devices under test. All traffic between these two devices is monitored. Analysis is performed at physical and protocol levels while providing timing analysis and efficiency verification. Basic capabilities include analysis of dual-simplex traffic. Up to 512 Mbytes of data can be stored.

A packet time-stamp with 8-ns resolution is provided. The E2951A can count SKIP-ordered sets. Users can trigger other test equipment. To simplify link-layer analysis, the analyzer decodes InfiniBand packets into text strings and tool tips. Clear-text messages describe what is occurring, eliminating time-consuming studies of InfiniBand reference lists. Decoding includes separation of headers, demarcation of fields, and decoding of data into text strings/tool tips.

The E2953A Traffic Generator also is a standalone instrument with a USB connector to interface with the controlling PC, trigger I/O connectors, and an InfiniBand 1X interface. It connects just like an InfiniBand end device and sends and receives data on a dual-simplex channel. Users can set up and repeat critical and worst-case traffic scenarios and force incorrect InfiniBand traffic. Controlled via C-API or the GUI, the generator supplies predictable InfiniBand test traffic in a fully controllable way.

Capabilities include generating traffic for InfiniBand links accessible through GUI or C-API, monitoring incoming traffic, and participating in link training. The devices additionally transmit idle data and SKIP-ordered sets as required by the InfiniBand specification, keeping the link alive and generating sequences of arbitrary packets with programmatic interpacket delay under software control.

The E2951A costs $45,000, and the E2953A costs $19,000.

Agilent Technologies Inc., 5301 Stevens Creek Blvd., MS 54LAK, Santa Clara, CA 95052; (800) 452-4844, ext. 6910; www.agilent.com.

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TAGS: Components
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