As the industry continues its migration from parallel to serial interconnect technology, the need to test the new I/O buses will continue to grow. Thats where Agilent Technologies Inc. comes in.
At the 2003 PCI-SIG Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., this week, Agilent demonstrated its newest PCI Express testing tools, the Agilent E2960 test series. Agilent officials say it is the industrys first x8 bandwidth PCI Express test series, aimed at engineers and lab managers in research and development and quality assurance labs.
The tools are designed to enable companies to test their PCI Express-capable equipment before putting it out on the market, said Sandra Oberborfer, marketing manager for systems and protocol testing at Agilent.
"You have to make sure that in every scenario, the [products] will work," Oberborfer said. "As with automobile companies, its very annoying if you have to do a recall."
PCI Express is the expected incumbent to the PCI standard used to connect computers to other computers and peripherals. Unlike PCI, PCI Express is a serial link, enabling more data to move through fewer lines than the parallel delivery in PCI. Also, PCI Express links will run faster, at 2.5GHz as opposed to 133MHz. PCI Express technology should be arriving by the end of the year, with computers armed with the interconnect rolling out in early 2004.
"PCI Express is going to be ubiquitous in servers, desktops and laptops," said Ralf Link, research and development manager at Agilent.
The Palo Alto, Calif., companys E2960 series includes three primary elements, including a protocol analyzer for such functions as root cause and performance analysis and troubleshooting. A protocol exerciser complements the protocol analyzer, helping to simulate real-world situations to see how the technology performs, and the E2969A protocol test card for PCI Express x1 gives software developers and hardware designers a low-cost compliance test tool.
The protocol exerciser, starting at $38,000, and the analyzer, for $30,000, will begin shipping in August, according to Agilent. The test card is expected to ship in October, starting at $4,950.