Agilent unveils first fully integrated protocol viewer for automated PCI Express testing

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Agilent Technologies has announced the industry's first fully integrated protocol viewing application for PCI Express 3.0.

The software combines packet viewing and analogue waveform annotation with advanced packet and symbol searching capabilities in a single oscilloscope based tool. The Agilent N8816A PCI Express 3.0 protocol viewer software has been designed to help engineers identify protocol errors and simultaneously analyse analogue waveform characteristics. According to the company, this capability helps engineers developing PCI Express 3.0 based products to address potential issues early in the design cycle. Agilent says the platform was created to address signal integrity challenges caused by the 8GT/s operating speed of PCIe 3.0 devices. Signal integrity problems often occur intermittently and they may present themselves as errors in protocol behaviour. The software provides time correlated views of physical and transaction layer errors. The software performs 128/130bit decoding on PCI Express 3.0 traffic and displays serial packet data synchronised with the analogue view of the PCI Express 3.0 waveform using only an oscilloscope. The decoded waveform is displayed directly on the analogue waveform and in a list format with associated time and index information. This combination of simultaneous logical and analogue views of PCI Express 3.0 data allows engineers to quickly isolate signal integrity related causes of intermittent protocol errors. "We are pleased that companies such as Agilent are working to deploy tools that offer great visibility into the details of PCI Express 3.0 link training and bidirectional packet viewing," said Al Yanes, PCI-SIG president and chairman, pictured. "These tools will help SIG members test their PCI Express 3.0 products early in the design cycle, helping to ensure that the products they introduce have excellent interoperability and high quality."