Bus analyzer sees VME Renaissance vision - Embedded.com

Bus analyzer sees VME Renaissance vision

VMETRO Announces First VME Renaissance Enabled Bus Analyzer!

Houston, TX/Oslo, Norway—VMETRO, the inventors of the first VMEbus analyzer, proudly introduce the first VME Renaissance ready VMEbus analyzer supporting both legacy VME and the new protocols such as 2eSST and 2eVME. The sixth generation, Vanguard VME Bus Analyzer, is based on the same highly advanced architecture as the other members of the Vanguard family and offers unprecedented levels of power, flexibility and ease of use.

VME, developed by Motorola, is the predominate bus architecture used throughout the aerospace and defense markets. The VME Renaissance initiative provides a significant upgrade to the more than 20 year old VMEbus architecture by specifying new high speed capabilities such as the 2eSST and 2eVME signaling protocols. The Vanguard VME Analyzer aids in debugging the added software and hardware complexity introduced as a result of these new capabilities.

“VMETRO's Vanguard bus analyzer is the only analyzer on the market capable of interpreting 2eSST bus cycles and it is very good at its job,” said Dr. Jeffrey M. Harris, Motorola's Director of Research and System Architecture. “I am convinced that it saved us many hours of debug time.”

“The Vanguard VME product brings a new level of productivity to the VMEbus engineer,” says Thomas Nygaard, CTO at VMETRO asa and inventor of the Bus Analyzer, “The advanced features of the Vanguard VME Bus Analyzer will make the transition to the 2eSST protocol a much easier task.”

The Vanguard VME Bus Analyzer offers the following features and benefits:

Powerful

* 256 bits x 2M Sample Trace Buffer

* Concurrent use of Analyzer, Statistics, Exerciser, and Protocol Checker modules

* Support for the latest VMEbus enhancements including VME64, SSBLT, 2eVME and 2eSST

Flexible

* Connect remotely via Ethernet or direct via USB

* Modular architecture provides the ability to reuse the same hardware to test VME, CompactPCI and/or PCI/PCI-X

Easy to Use

* Included BusView software allows the user to view captured data in either a transaction summary mode or a more detailed data transfer by data transfer view

The Vanguard VME Analyzer is available immediately with a 2 to 4 week delivery world-wide.

Pricing starts at USD $11,900.

For additional information about this product, please contact:

In Europe/Asia:Stein Erik MauricePhone: +47 22 10 60 90Fax: +47 22 10 62 02E-mail: stein-erik@VMETRO.no

In USA/Canada:Ronnie SanfordPhone: (281) 584 0728Fax: (281) 584 9034E-mail: rsanford@VMETRO.comThe venerable VMEbus is getting a shot in the arm, especially from Motorola. It's saying the VME Renaissance is now upon us, with a period of innovation and performance improvement—while maintaining backward compatibility and protecting existing investments.

Motorola's VME Renaissance vision includes a faster control-plane bus, a switched serial data-plane interconnect, point-to-point mezzanines, and more. All these innovations are being introduced with the intent of maintaining backward compatibility with existing VMEbus.

Enter VMETRO. It's is a company that's been making board-level and system-level products for embedded realtime systems for quite some time, so it's natural that it is supporting the VME Renaissance vision.

Since 1986 the company has offered products for VMEbus, PCI, RACEway, RACE++, and Fibre Channel. VMETRO now claims that it's the world's largest manufacturer of bus analyzers. Whether that's true or not, the company's analyzers are widely used during software development, during system integration, and during hardware design of interface chips, backplanes, and other system boards in a crate.

VMETRO's existing Vanguard product line includes what the company claims are the only analyzers that support PCI-X (3.3-V up to 133 MHz) and legacy PCI systems (5-V systems at 33 MHz). Vanguard VME is part of the company's Vanguard Bus Analyzer product family, which also includes bus analyzers for PCI, PMC, and CompactPCI, as well as PCI-X.

Enter this sixth-generation Vanguard VME Bus Analyzer . Priced starting at about $11,900, it replaces the company's workhorse Model VBT-325, which is arguably the de facto standard VMEbus analyzer in the industry—even though it was rolled out eleven years ago. VMETRO has sold thousands of them since that time, which is mute testimony to their efficacy and acceptance by designers.

State And Timing

This latest field-programmable analyzer is also both a state and timing analyzer. As the press release notes, it supports 2eSST and 2eVME with a statistics engine, a protocol checker, and an exerciser—all of which can run at the same time. The system also provides PCI on P0 support with VG-PMC.

The product's VME, PCI, and CompactPCI form-factors share a common hardware module, which VMETRO calls its State Analyzer Module , or VG-SAM. The VG-SAM is interchangeable between the VME, PCI, and CompactPCI carrier boards.

Note that the Vanguard VME VG-VMEP0 spin also supports the Thales Computer PCI on P0 pin-out. It has a PMC site available for installation of a Vanguard PMC Bus Analyzer to analyze the PCI bus on the P0 connector.

It's Networked

Not mentioned in the VMETRO press statement is the fact that this product is networked, with a built-in 10/100 Mbit/s Ethernet interface. Although (as noted in the bulletized points in the press release) it can be controlled via Universal Serial Bus (USB), it really shows its stuff when run across an Ethernet connection, driven from a Windows PC running VMETRO's application.


Click for larger-size network diagram

Using Ethernet lets you connect to more than one analyzer situated at any networked location. To do this you use VMETRO's BusView 4 graphical user interface called BusView 4 .

BusView 4 under Windows provides graphics, mouse operation, multi-windowing, and file storage for trace data and setups. Notably, BusView 4 also packs a functional simulator, enabling an evaluation of the analyzer without having to actually install one. That's a great way to determine if this product is really for you—without having to purchase expensive hardware.

Running VME Renaissance-Ready

As with all of the company's analyzers, this VME Renaissance version is powered from your target system, or from an external power supply. Once set, your target system under test is connected via the network, so you can work on it just about anywhere in the world.

No physical cables need to be swapped, so one user can give another user access to the analyzer. Developers can collaborate from anywhere. The networked bus analyzer can also be installed in a deployed system (such as a remote radar unit), giving you access to direct measurements on the actual up-and-running system.

The VME Renaissance-Ready board will even make temperature and voltage measurements on a target system. When debugging systems, either locally and/or remotely, problems can be related to IR drops and/or temperature excursions.


Click for large typical monitor screen image

The analyzer's ability to monitor voltage and temperature, and to generate alarms if either fall outside a range, can help track down errant temperature-related events, resets, protocol violations, and triggers. This can be very useful in systems that are being tested or monitored in environments where they're not easily accessible, such as in subs or aircraft.

Getting Recognized

In networked use, the Vanguard automatically requests an Internet Protocol (IP) address from a network's DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server (if a DHCP server is present). If there is no server, an APIPA (automatic private IP addressing) service is tried instead.

APIPA, under Windows, lets a computer automatically assign itself an IP address in networks where no DHCP server is available. APIPA is actually designed as a so-called failover mechanism for DHCP. It's a way to make small LANs easier to configure. APIPA is also what permits one of these networked analyzers to be connected directly to a host computer using a cross-over Ethernet cable, with no further configuration.

In any case, regardless of how the connection is established, the Vanguard plug-in will then be present on your network, and will be available for connection. Moreover, you'll be able to detect any and all such analyzers from your Windows PC.

Once set up, the system uses VMETRO's programming language-like trigger sequencer to specify triggers, and store and count qualifiers in an If-Then-Else fashion. Together with a de-MUXd sampling method (that puts Command , Address , Data , and Status as separate items in trigger event specifiers) and true inside/outside range specifiers on address and data fields, you can create triggers and store qualifiers—without having to use multiple events to define trigger attributes of a single transfer.

As mentioned, you can also readily store your trigger setups on your PC. The system's graphical sequencer supports visualization of complex sequences.

Concurrent Operation

There are also separate hardware resources for various functions so that you can operate the system's exerciser, for example, while running the system's state analyzer. This supports monitoring of bus traffic results that are generated, as well as other bus agents—all simultaneously.

The system's protocol checker can also be run concurrently with the state analyzer, exerciser, and realtime statistics function. This concurrency is what ensures a high level of efficiency during debugging.

In my discussion with VMETRO spokesman Ronnie Sanford, he pointed out that this is in stark contrast with other products where often one or a few common hardware resources are shared for each sub-function, restricting which functions can operate at the same time.

The state analyzer and 133 MHz timing analyzer sections offer a 2-Meg sample trace buffer (at 256 bits), trace decoding with mnemonics, time tags and latency tags/sample, and protocol-sensitive sampling modes. The latter ensures optimum trace usage and readability.

The system also provides full de-MUXing of Address, Data, and other fields for maximum trigger and storage flexibility. It also provides multi-level trace viewing.

For its part, the system's independent realtime statistics engine provides 61 realtime counters, including eight user-defined ones. These ensure that you get both abundant pre-defined and user-defined statistics. The statistics engine also ensures concurrent measurement of event counting, bus utilization, bus transfer rates, block length distribution, and arbiter latencies.

The engine uses hardware counters and pre-programmed word recognizers to generate the measurements displayed in graphs. Once generated, you can save displayed statistics to ASCII files for post processing or use in other documents. You can also play back statistics at user-selectable speeds.

The Exerciser

The system's exerciser operates as a VMEbus Master with two DMA engines. Like the stat engine, the exerciser also supports concurrent operation.

The exerciser also provides extensive test commands with walking ones/zeros, and random patterns. This section of the analyzer also has built-in script recording and playback features, as well as an interrupt generator and handler. It operates as VMEbus slave memory with a software-controlled base address.

A script feature lets test scripts be made and automation of tasks. The exerciser is controlled through Windows dialog boxes, automated with built-in script recording and playback capability.

Protocol Checking

The system's protocol checker automatically detects up to a whopping sixty VME errors, a feature that can go a long way to help you track down bus hardware errors.

The protocol checker also runs in the background when other analyzer functions of the Vanguard are active. For example, the system's state analyzer and bus-use statistics engine can all be active at the same time, while the protocol checker runs in the background, screening the bus for errors. If the protocol checker is used as the trigger source, the state and timing analyzers will then provide a picture of bus activity around the point when an error was found.

With new high speed VMEbus 2eSST and 2eVME signaling protocols, VMETRO's newest Vanguard VME Analyzer looks like just the ticket for debugging new hardware and software. Codesmiths can look at high-level data views, and hardware folks can look at protocols with low-level views. When you consider that you can get one of these analyzers for less than $12,000, that seems very cost-effective.

Want more details? Contact Ronnie Sanford at VMETRO, Inc., 1880 Dairy Ashford, Suite 400, Houston, Texas 77077. Phone: (281) 584 0728. Fax: (281) 584 9034. E-mail: rsanford@VMETRO.com, or info@VMETRO.com. Be sure to check out VMETRO's Web site, too. There you'll find some interesting downlinks pointing to technical papers on bus analysis.

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