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PCI Express® Design and Test from Electrical to Protocol


Keysight Technologies

PCI Express® Design and Test from Electrical to Protocol

Thoroughly Simulate, Characterize and Validate PCI Express Designs

Realize Your Best Design

In digital standards, every generation change puts new risks in your path. We see it firsthand when creating our products and working with engineers like you. The Keysight Technologies, Inc. solution set for high-speed digital test is a combination of software, instrumentation and broad expertise built on our early and ongoing involvement with industry experts.

PCI Express® technology has been implemented broadly in systems requiring high-speed data transfer, such as video or graphics. Initially embraced by high-performance desktop and server systems, it is now finding a home in embedded applications. Specifications and compliance tests are defined by the PCI Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG®) (see Figure 1).

The overwhelming concern for designers is interoperability and backward compatibility. You need tools to validate the parametric and protocol aspects of your designs to make sure your design is in compliance, and to see how close the design performance is to specification.

Higher data rates increase signal integrity symptoms like reflections and crosstalk, causing signal degradation and timing issues. A shorter clock cycle means a smaller jitter budget, so reducing jitter is far more complex. Likewise, as PCI Express is used in more diverse environments, the protocol layer capabilities are increasing.

When you can gain insight to your design early in the design cycle, you can take corrective action quickly to make sure you meet product quality, interoperability and time-to-market goals. By sharing our latest experiences, we can help enhance your ability to create products you’ll be proud of. Work with Keysight and realize your best design.

Key Task

PCI Express design can be segmented into physical layer, data link layer and transaction layer. For Card Electromechanical (CEM) specifications, the PCI-SIG provides the Compliance Base Board (CBB), the Compliance Load Board (CLB), and the SigTest software to facilitate electrical compliance testing.

Protocol compliance requires a different approach. While the PCI-SIG workshops provide a formal verification of your design, you need to perform compliance tests before attending a workshop.

Keysight offers solutions to meet your needs in the electrical physical layer, protocol layer, and functional test (see Figure 2).

Applying expertise

Keysight has decades of experience in digital, RF and protocol engineering. We understand the reflections, insertion and return loss, jitter budget, timing margins and other issues that designers have to face in high data rate standards. Our protocol expertise is leveraged from our long time support of the PCI standards. As an active member of the PCI-SIG, with consistent participation in workshops and specification issues, Keysight has a solid understanding of the physical layer, data link layer and transaction layer used by PCI Express.

Keysight has a long history of collaborative innovation with industry leaders. It puts Keysight in a position to develop tools that meet the physical challenges, are customized to the needs of the standard, and are relevant to the way designers and developers need to use them.

Complete, reliable test coverage

What makes Keysight solutions so compelling is that they were developed to match the application’s specific needs – oscilloscopes to verify signal integrity and jitter, BERTs and pattern generators to create complex stimulus signals and to test receivers (see Figure 3), protocol exercisers/analyzers to debug packets, time-domain reflectometer (TDR) and a vector network analyzer (VNA) to characterize impedance, and EDA software integrated with compliance applications to enable the same tests on simulated designs and manufactured hardware.

The quality of Keysight solutions is the key to easier, faster and more confident testing of your PCI Express designs. Accurate results reduce the number of design cycles to help you get to market faster, and they ensure robust designs that uphold your competitive advantage in the market.


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