Agilent Offers FPGA Dynamic Probe for Mixed-Signal Oscilloscopes

11/4/2004 - Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) announced the industry first's field programmable gate array (FPGA) dynamic probe application for Agilent Infiniium mixed signal oscilloscopes (MSOs). The Agilent N5397A FPGA dynamic probe yields significant productivity improvements for engineering teams debugging Xilinx FPGAs. This application reduces the overall time and cost involved in debug and validation of designs incorporating FPGA development.

The Agilent N5397A FPGA dynamic probe interacts with an on-chip virtual probing technology, enabling MSOs to capture up to 32 internal FPGA signals for each debug pin correlated to external analog activity. Traditional test and measurement equipment can measure only one internal FPGA signal for each debug pin. The new Infiniium MSO application enables engineers to select new groups of internal signals to probe, without requiring time-consuming design recompiles.

"The Infiniium MSO is playing an increasingly important role in digital designers' development," said Brent Przybus, product marketing manager of Xilinx's Advanced Products Division. "Agilent is extending the power of the MSO with the Agilent N5397A to dramatically shorten digital debug and validation time in designs that incorporate Xilinx FPGAs."

"Agilent's state-of-the-art probing techniques give digital designers much needed insight more quickly," said Galen Wampler, industry analyst at Prime Data. "Being able to change probe points in seconds, instead of hours, will allow design teams to validate their Xilinx FPGA designs faster than ever and speed new technologies to market less expensively."

Programmable logic handles advanced circuit functions and offers design engineers the flexibility to meet the economic and market constraints of demanding projects. MSOs are an effective FPGA debug and validation tool because they correlate digital signal activity inside the FPGA with analog characteristics outside the FPGA in real time. Until now, changing probe points inside the FPGA could take hours because engineers had to change the design and recompile the FPGA in order to select a new group of internal signals.

When used with an Agilent Infiniium MSO, the N5397A allows developers to instantaneously select which groups of internal signals to be probed. Up to 32 internal probe points are accessible on each physical debug pin that is connected to one of the 16 digital input channels on the Infiniium MSO. This allows for 512 internal probe points to be accessed inside the FPGA without changing the design. In addition, automatic mapping of internal signal names from FPGA design tools to the Infiniium MSO provides easy identification of on-screen digital waveforms corresponding to internal probe points.

The Agilent N5397A has a nearly identical user interface to the B4655A dynamic probe, introduced in March 2004, for Agilent 16900 Series, 1680 Series and 1690 Series logic analyzers. The difference in functionality comes with the difference in test equipment capabilities and use models.

Digital designers involved with a range of FPGA design complexities need to make analog characteristic measurements correlated to digital signal activity using an Agilent MSO. For sophisticated FPGA designs, an Agilent logic analyzer makes system-level, functional debug possible. The Agilent MSO is the only tool capable of correlating analog phenomena with digital signals inside the FPGA. For correlating such signals with external system buses for full functional debug, the Agilent logic analyzer is the tool of choice. With the FPGA dynamic probe application available for the both the Infiniium MSO and the logic analyzer, Agilent has a superior suite of test tools for Xilinx FPGA digital design teams.

The Agilent N5397A FPGA dynamic probe application for the Infiniium MSO is also compatible with the Infiniium 54830 Series MSOs with system software revision A.03.90 or higher based on the open Microsoft(r) Windows XP(r) Pro operating system.

Additional Information
Additional information about the Agilent N5397A FPGA dynamic probe for Infiniium 54830 Series MSOs is available at
Additional information about the Agilent B4655A FPGA dynamic probe for 16900 Series, 1680 Series, and 1690 Series logic analyzers is available at
A technical backgrounder containing additional information about the Agilent N5397A FPGA dynamic probe is available at
High-resolution images of the N5397A FPGA dynamic probe are available at

U.S. Pricing and Availability
The Agilent N5397A FPGA dynamic probe application for Infiniium MSOs is $3,000 and can be ordered now, with shipments expected in January 2005.

About Agilent Technologies
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is a global technology leader in communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis. The company's 28,000 employees serve customers in more than 110 countries. Agilent had net revenue of $6.1 billion in fiscal year 2003. Information about Agilent is available on the Web at

Microsoft and Windows XP are U.S. registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.

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