Mentor Graphics Offers Flexible PCI Express Development Solution

10/1/2003 - Mentor Graphics Corp. announced a flexible development solution that supports a variety of uses in the development, prototyping and verification of PCI ExpressTM-based systems in field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). The system offers a fast track to designers looking for rapid time-to-market, and provides a means to achieve future compliance certification.

The flexible development solution supports endpoints, legacy endpoints, switches, advanced switches and root complexes, providing unprecedented capability for rapid prototyping, development and debugging that is the main reason for the explosive growth in FPGA-based systems. The development solution can be configured with either Altera's StratixTM GX EP1SGX25F or Stratix GX EP1SGX40G transceiver-based FPGAs. It also includes flexible PCI Express signal routing via Infiniband cabling, test attachments, JTAG programming, passive cards and on-board DRAM memory.

The development solution supports up to 20 lanes of traffic that can be allocated to different ports with suitably configured PCI Express intellectual property (IP) cores from Mentor Graphics. It also supports varied links per port and multi-port devices with the capability to adapt to either slot- or edge-based systems via inexpensive passive boards that communicate PCI Express through a compatible cable to the desired arrangement of PCI Express slots or edge connectors.

The development solution includes the Physical Layer, Data Link Layer and Transaction Layer functionality, enabling the development of complete end point, switch and root complex solutions. The core operates at 2.5 Gbps link speed, using the multi-gigabit transceivers featured in Altera's Stratix GX devices that provide clock data recovery, 8B/10B encoding, 3.125 Gbps SerDes, and Tx/Rx FIFOs.

"Providing complete, flexible PCI-Express development solutions is a crucial part of Altera's strategy to accelerate the design and development of high-bandwidth serial PCI Express solutions," said Justin Cowling, director of marketing for Altera's Intellectual Property Business Unit. "This board gives customers immediate access to the latest high-speed serial I/O FPGA technology and provides users the fastest and easiest design path to PCI Express."

"This solution underpins our strong standards compliance-centric development methodology," said David Wood, director of product marketing for the Intellectual Property division of Mentor Graphics. "We firmly believe that customers must have confidence in IP through hardware verification and eventual compliance validation. This development solution places Mentor Graphics in a strong position to be the leading provider of compliant PCI Express IP products."

It is also critically important to be able to verify designs using "real world" PCI Express traffic. Adopters of PCI express always need to validate that their devices interface properly with the PCI Express standards under real conditions. The development solution, in conjunction with Mentor Graphics® IP and emulation technology provides customers an unprecedented ability to validate their systems, providing millions of cycles of throughput. This puts Mentor Graphics at the leading edge of verifying complex PCI Express-based system-on-chip (SoC) designs.

The development solution shows a PCI to PCI Express configuration using Mentor PCI Express IP cores. The IP is designed to be very flexible with a rich set of configurable features to allow the IP to be tuned for particular applications and bandwidths. Configurable options include the number of virtual channels, the number of lanes (initially up to 16) and links per port and the maximum payload size. Flow control is provided for different types of traffic, for instance allowing "cut-through" transfer of time critical data.

"It is fundamentally important that engineers have access to flexible development solutions to accelerate time-to-market for PCI Express-based systems," said Jim Pappas, director of initiative marketing for Intel's Enterprise Platform Group. "With broad availability of PCI Express solutions across Intel's desktop, mobile, server and communications platforms expected to initiate next year, availability of development solutions today will aid in keeping designers on track with product delivery."

The development solution will be available October 2003 and will be initially reserved for preferred customers of Altera FPGA and Mentor IP products. For more information, please visit or

About Mentor Graphics
Mentor Graphics Corporation (Nasdaq: MENT) is a world leader in electronic hardware and software design solutions, providing products, consulting services and award-winning support for the world's most successful electronics and semiconductor companies. Established in 1981, the company reported revenues over the last 12 months of about $650 million and employs approximately 3,500 people worldwide. Corporate headquarters are located at 8005 S.W. Boeckman Road, Wilsonville, Oregon 97070-7777; Silicon Valley headquarters are located at 1001 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, California 95131-2314. World Wide Web site:

Mentor Graphics is a registered trademark and Inventra is a trademark of Mentor Graphics Corporation.

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