Electronic Design

Software Options Automate Serial Jitter Test, PCI Express Multilane Receiver Test

When it comes to designing their products, electronics OEMs rely on standards now more than ever. This makes the availability of fast, accurate test systems critical in ensuring compliance with these standards. Two software suites for Agilent biterror-ratio testers (BERTs) seek to fill this need.

A package for the N4903A serial BERT handles jitter-tolerance compliance testing for serial gigabit receivers. The second, the N5991A software option for the 81250-series parallel BERT (ParBERT), performs compliance and characterization tests on PCI Express multilane receivers (see the figure).

The N4903A software includes an extensive library of jitter-compliance curves for PCI Express, Serial ATA, Fibre Channel, fully buffered dual-inline memory modules (DIMMs), Common Electrical Interface (CEI), 10-Gbit Ethernet, and small-form-factor pluggable (XFP) testing. Users can customize the curves and margins. The N4903A also provides all the required jitter sources, and the test suite automatically sweeps through the compliance measurement. So, no equipment programming is needed.

The jitter tolerance compliance suite for the N4903A costs $9975. It's available now. The N4903A serial BERT starts at $120,000 for the 7-Gbit/s version and $160,000 for the 12.5-Gbit/s version.

Because of its features (a multilane architecture, spread-spectrum clock, preemphasis/de-emphasis, and link layer protocol), it's difficult to test PCI Express on a traditional one-channel instrument.-The N5991A option for the ParBERT simplifies and speeds testing with "one-button" capability and compliance sweeps that use the correct stimulus signal carrying the specified stress. It runs on standard PCs and requires the N5990A transmitter/receiver test automation software platform for the ParBERT.

The PCI Express compliance software option (N5991A) costs $15,997. The N5990A test software platform is $49,975. The 81250 ParBERT starts at $250,000 for the multilane 7-Gbit version.

Agilent Technologies Inc.

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