Agilent Technologies Introduces Industry’s First Complete Analyser, Exerciser Solution for PCI Express 2.0

Series Combines Protocol and Logic Analysis Through P2L Gateway

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Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today introduced the industry’s first complete and integrated x1 through x16 protocol analyser and exerciser solution for PCI Express(r) (PCIe) 2.0. The Agilent E2960B series addresses the industry’s need for non-intrusive measurement of PCIe signal, Link Training and Status State Machine (LTSSM) testing and cross-system measurements provided by a single protocol test suite.

The trend toward high-speed serial technology continues with the introduction of PCIe 2.0, which doubles the previous protocol’s speed from 2.5 Gb/s to 5 Gb/s. This satisfies the increased need for bandwidth of high-performance applications such as graphics, and also allows existing applications to retain bandwidth while moving to a reduced pin count. The smaller link width ultimately leads to lower system cost.

Increasing the speed to 5 Gb/s presents significant challenges to the designers of computer and communication systems. Powerful and reliable tools are essential to master the transition to the next-generation speed class. The E2960B series consists of an analyser and an exerciser supporting both PCIe 1.0 and PCIe 2.0. Multiple probing options, as well as the newly invented protocol to logic (P2L) gateway, complete the portfolio.

The analyser includes the following benefits:

o X1 through x16 for PCIe 1.0 and PCIe 2.0, which provides an authentic system view without altering the signal characteristics. This is ensured through Agilent’s unique midbus 2.0 series of probes that take the outstanding current midbus probe solution with soft touch technology to a new dimension: the capacitive loading is less than 0.15pF, and sensitivity is as low as 60mV.

o Available interposer probing.

o The well-known feature set of Agilent’s solutions, such as advanced trigger setup.

o Advanced data representation through context-sensitive columns with easy flow technology.

Combining Logic and Protocol

Prior to the E2960B series, logic analyser and protocol analysers in the industry have been separate concepts and products. With this release, Agilent now combines the key features of both into a single product to allow the user to understand data from the physical layer up to the transaction layer. This comprises features such as the per-lane view, which shows 8b/10b data even before the channel bonding has completed, or the trigger-down-the-lane view for triggering on ordered sets. An immediate feedback on the lane status is provided by the per-lane LEDs.

In addition, Agilent connects its logic and protocol analysers with the P2L gateway, which allows cross-triggering and marker correlation. Connecting multiple instruments and driving them from one station enables broad visibility into the different parts of the systems, such as FSB (Front Side Bus) and PCIe, without adding the burden of an entire logic analyser solution to customers who only need a protocol analyser solution.

Exerciser Benefits

An analyser alone is not sufficient to debug and remove issues in order to turn on and bring up a PCIe system or device. A stimulus solution is required that enables fast and efficient feedback on the link training behavior of a PCIe device and that drives the device to its edge. The Agilent PCIe exerciser solves the issue by providing multiple levels of stimulus.

The LTSSM exerciser generates training sequences at speed on all lanes for link width up to x16, which allows effective link negotiation testing using predefined test. Link behavior testing can be done in a controlled environment so that corner case testing and failure isolation become much easier.

As well as the LTSSM testing, the exerciser offers a fully featured and freely programmable stimulus solution for link width up to x4 that enables root complex emulation, end point emulation and add-in card testing at any link width. The newly designed traffic setup in the GUI increases the work efficiency even further.

To maximise investment protection, the E2960B series is based on Agilent’s existing N2X platform. Also, the E2960B series supports all the Agilent PCIe 1.0 probing solutions. It inherits the existing GUI and API and enhances them while being backward-compatible, so that existing knowledge and effort can be leveraged from previous products.

“The E2960B product series expands our commitment to provide the best and most complete test and debug solutions for PCI Express, enabling the industry to develop the next generation of PCI Express technology,” said Siegfried Gross, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Digital Verification Solutions Division. “The protocol test suite allows customers who do not necessarily have an immediate need for PCI Express’ new 5 Gb/s speed to have it available right when they are ready to implement it.”

“The next generation of PCI Express is being integrated into new products, and it is vital to have testing tools and analysers specifically created to assist developers,” said Jim Pappas, director of initiative marketing for Intel Corporation. “Companies such as Agilent are developing robust testing suites that are vital to the continued ecosystem adoption of the new specification.”


The Agilent E2960B series is available now. More information about the Agilent E2960B series is available at

Product photos are available at


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