Tek Turns Oscilloscope into Serial Bus Compliance Measurement Tool

7/16/2003 - Tektronix, Inc. (NYSE: TEK), the world's leading manufacturer of oscilloscopes announced new software and hardware solutions that will speed critical compliance and validation testing for emerging serial data standards.

The computer and communications industries, striving to deliver ever-higher bandwidths and data capacity in their equipment, are on the divide between older "parallel" data bus structures and fast new "serial" buses. To achieve these increases, signals must be encoded and transmitted under exacting conditions spelled out in standards such as PCI Express, InfiniBand, Serial ATA, Fibre Channel, and others. Proving compliance with these standards is a critical, but potentially time-consuming step to ensure interoperability among system elements that use serial technology.

Tektronix' new RT-EyeTM Serial Data Compliance and Analysis Software (Option RTE) package works with Tektronix' leading TDS6000 and TDS/CSA7000 Series oscilloscopes, while the P7350SMA Differential Probe provides an uncompromised signal probing environment in both bandwidth and fidelity. These new tools provide a complete solution for analog validation and compliance of PCI Express, one of the fastest moving serial technology developments in the industry. Joining this suite of compliance tools (for digital validation and debug) is the TMS817 support package, a new PCI Express debug and validation solution for Tektronix' TLA 700 Series logic analyzers.

"As NEC Electronics leads the industry with the first silicon based upon the PCI Express standard, Tektronix has been there with the right tools at the right time to validate our devices," said Toshihiko Ohtani, Project Manager, NEC Electronics Corporation. As serial data speeds increase, the exceptional fidelity of a Tektronix' probes and oscilloscopes along with it's compliance and analysis software tools, provide a superior solution for PCI Express testing."

"Tektronix serves on standards committees and working groups with fellow industry leaders to define and develop compliance testing methods that enable the transition to serial technologies," said, Colin Shepard, Vice President, Oscilloscope Products, Tektronix, Inc. "The new RT-Eye package and the P7350SMA probe will save precious time for designers proof-testing their serial products for compliance. We anticipate that at least half of our TDS6000 and TDS/CSA7000 Series users will want these new tools, while the new TMS817 support package will enable PCI Express developers to more quickly solve problems at the logical level."

Transition To Serial Standards Drives Requirement For Efficient New Measurement Tools
A host of new high-speed serial data transmission standards is emerging today. Some are intended for chip-to-chip communication; others are designed for connectivity with peripherals; yet others are meant for communication among boards within a system. Each of these architectures is defined in a unique standards document, usually the product of an industry committee. The standards address data encoding, packetization, clock embedding, the signal environment, and compliance test procedures. Designers developing serial devices need automated solutions that meet the analog compliance measurement challenge with "domain expertise," that is, built-in knowledge of the standard and its compliance tests. Domain expertise frees the engineer from tedious test programming and ensures concise, correct compliance tests.

From the hardware perspective, the measurement system must preserve sensitive low-amplitude serial signals. This translates to a requirement for a high-bandwidth, low-loss environment to deliver differential data signals to the acquisition system, where it is analyzed for compliance with the standard. Some standards, such as InfiniBand and USB 2.0, recommend specific Tektronix oscilloscopes as the preferred platform for compliance measurements and eye diagrams.

Once analog compliance is established, developers must validate and troubleshoot the digital capabilities of their new designs. Here too, an integrated software/hardware toolset can enhance a designer's efficiency when using a logic analyzer to connect, acquire and interpret complex data from serial protocols such as PCI Express.

Software, Hardware Solutions Simplify Measurements On Leading Serial Standards
The new RT-Eye Serial Compliance and Analysis Software package is an option for the Tektronix TDS6000 Series and TDS/CSA7000 Series oscilloscopes. The package's domain expertise transforms the host oscilloscope into a powerful automated validation and compliance-testing platform for copper-based serial standards operating at data rates up to 3.2 gigabits per second. Option RTE provides software clock recovery, eye diagrams, and a full battery of standard specific parametric measurements in the amplitude, timing, and jitter domain, including Total Jitter at 10-12 BER. Beyond known standards, waveform masks, measurement limits, and reporting functions can be customized by the user, enabling companies and industry groups working on proprietary and emerging standards to develop their own internal and external compliance programs and reports.

Once a standard matures to the point where the industry group has decided their compliance tests, a standard specific Compliance Module (which uses the RT-Eye software as it's measurement engine) will be made available. Available with this release of the RT-Eye software are the PCI Express Compliance Module (option PCE) and InfiniBand Compliance Module (option IBA).

The P7350SMA differential probe offers proven 5 GHz bandwidth and true differential connectivity via SMA connectors. The probe's high bandwidth is a necessity for accurate capture of 2.5 Gb/s signals. The P7350SMA meets the needs of designers who fixture their prototypes with SMA connectors, a common practice among developers of high-speed digital circuitry. The P7350SMA supplements the existing P7350 probe, which is equipped with conventional movable contacts. Both probes, because they consume only one oscilloscope input for each two-sided differential signal, enable multi-channel measurements at the oscilloscope's maximum sample rate.

The TMS817 PCI Express support package for the TLA700 Series logic analyzer consists of a hardware unit with detachable probe cables, and software tools for real-time display and analysis of the signals. The TMS817 simplifies debug and validation work with its ability to deskew, decode, and descramble serial data, recover embedded clocks, and trigger on specific packet attributes. Both "mid-bus" and interposer probes are available, providing reliable contact to the device under test via "lands" on the device or edge connectors. The TMS817 acquires signals at data rates up to 2.5 Gb/s, consistent with PCI Express requirements.

About Tektronix
Tektronix, Inc. is a test, measurement, and monitoring company providing measurement solutions to the communications, computer, and semiconductor industries worldwide. With more than 55 years of experience, Tektronix enables its customers to design, build, deploy, and manage next-generation global communications networks and advanced technologies. Headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, Tektronix has operations in more than 20 countries worldwide. Tektronix' Web address is www.tektronix.com.

Tektronix is a registered trademark of Tektronix, Inc.

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