Plug-in analyzers graphically probe PCI Express -

Plug-in analyzers graphically probe PCI Express


VMETRO expands the highly successful Vanguard analyzer family with the introduction of the Vanguard Express PCI Express Protocol Analyzer

Designed for debugging, testing and validating the PCI Express protocol, the Vanguard Express analyzer allows testing of x1, x4 and x8 PCI Express card-edge and XMC form factors. The Vanguard Express is the only PCI Express analyzer offered for the XMC form factor. XMC is the PCI Express Mezzanine Card defined in the VITA 42.3 specification. The Vanguard Express incorporates 20 years of VMETRO bus analyzer expertise.

“The Vanguard Express product range greatly increases productivity for engineers, by allowing the same captured data to be viewed both with and without protocol details,” says Stein Erik Maurice, product manager at VMETRO, “VMETRO’s unique data view is the result of listening to customers involved in software development and system integration.”

The Vanguard Express is designed to offer maximum flexibility for multiple form factors. In an XMC environment, a device under test is installed on top of the Vanguard Express analyzer. In the PCI Express card-edge form factor, the Vanguard Express installs between the system slot and the device under test. These approaches allow the PCI Express device under test to function normally, while having access to the PCI Express links. This highly flexible design will be able to provide PCI Express analysis in other forms as well.

The Vanguard Express is operated via USB or Ethernet while using VMETRO's BusView 5 Graphical User Interface software running under Windows 2000 and XP. A single workstation can control multiple Vanguard analyzers for monitoring different protocols, like PCI-X/PCI, PMC, CompactPCI or VME.

The Vanguard Express supports advanced decoding of the PCI Express protocol. This decoding includes viewing the trace data in lane, packet and data views. Thus making the captured data easy to read and interpret for all users, regardless of expertise and task.

Real Time Performance Analysis is also included with the Vanguard Express Analyzer. The Vanguard Express predefined statistics include Link Utilization, PLP Distribution, TLP Distribution, DLLP Distribution and Link Transfer Rate. In addition, post processing statistics are gathered using the Trace Count feature on any acquired trace.

Error detection is performed by the Vanguard Express’s onboard protocol checker. Each error includes online help to assist with debugging.


* PCI Express Protocol and Link Analysis for PCI Express card-edge and XMC Form Factor

* x1, x4 and x8 link support

* USB and Ethernet Communication

* 256MB Trace Buffer

* 8 Trigger Events

* Independent and Concurrent Operation of Analyzer, Statistics and Protocol Checker

The Vanguard Express products are available 8 to 12 weeks ARO.


In Europe:

Stein Erik Maurice, +47 22 10 60 90 Fax: +47 22 10 60 90 E-mail:


In the US:

Nicole Renfro, 281-584-0728 Fax: 281-584-9034 E-mail:


In Asia:

Mr. Valliappan, +65 6238 6010 Fax +65 6238 6020 E-mail:

If you're adopting PCI Express v1.1 , and (likely) working in a Windows development environment, check out VMETRO 's new Vanguard Express family of protocol and link analyzers. Each equipped with 256-Mbytes of trace memory, the ten members of this family of analyzers will support testing of x1, x4 and x8 (number of lanes) PCI Express card-edge and XMC form-factors.

In operation, you talk to one of these Vanguard Express analyzers using either USB (Universal Serial Bus) or Ethernet . The USB port operates at 12-Mbits/s.

The Ethernet port can operate in 10/100-Mbit/s systems. Using Ethernet lets you connect to more than one analyzer situated at any networked location, too. To do this you use VMETRO's BusView 5 graphical user interface. BusView 5 under Windows provides graphics, mouse operation, multi-windowing, and file storage for trace data and setups.

Regardless of how you communicate to a Vanguard Express board, they support triggering and decoding of PCI Express using mnemonics. Through a 16-level trigger sequencer, protocol decoding lets you view trace data in lane and packet views, as well as through VMETRO's so-called data view. In all, these views make captured data readily readable and interpretable. What's more two decoded trace files can be compared to detect problems.

As noted in the company's press statement (on the left) automatic error detection is performed by an integral protocol checker that generates a trigger to the analyzer, as well as an external trigger signal for other test gear.

The triggering system includes eight packet recognizers. The trigger output is a LVTTL (low voltage TTL) signal that's programmable for polarity, level, or pulse operation (it can pulse on stored samples). The trigger position is entirely variable from zero to 100%, with 1% resolution. A time tag uses a 40-bit counter (4-ns resolution). There are also six TTL trigger inputs.

As for the system's sequencer, it provides 16 levels of operation, using If, Else, Elseif, Goto, Count, Delay, Trigger, Store , and Halt statements. Each error includes online help to assist with debugging.

Search and extract functions are also provided so that you can locate samples in the trace display. After a trace is collected, any packet, or combination of packets, can be searched for, extracted, or hidden in the trace view.

Monitor Voltage, Temperature

Using a voltage and temperature meter, you can also monitor system behavior, and generate alarms if the voltages or temperatures fall outside of a specified range.

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.

As I mentioned above, there are ten spins of this board-level analyzer: seven are for PCI Express systems and three for XMC. XMC is the PCI Express Mezzanine Card defined in the VITA 42.3 spec. Most processor cards use the PMC (PCI Mezzanine Card) standard to support modular I/O. The VITA 42 XMC spec extends the PMC standard for mezzanine-to-carrier interfaces. Click here for more details about XMC.

Versions And Prices

Of the PCI Express products, VMETRO's VX-PCIE-1 , priced at $21,950, includes an x1 adapter card, a Vanguard Express XMC module, and license key for x1 link-width support. Similarly, the company's VX-PCIE-4 version, priced at $25,950, includes x4 adapter card and license.

A VX-PCIE-14 Vanguard Express Analyzer, priced at $27,950, is also available. It also includes the statistics engine and protocol checker, but has both x1 and x4 adapter cards, and a license key for up to x4 link-width support. A $29,950 VX-PCIE-8 , as the name implies, includes an x8 adapter card for up to x8 link-widths.

VMETRO's VX-PCIE-18 includes x1 and x8 adapter cards for up to x8 link width support. Similarly, the VX-PCIE-48 includes x4 and x8 adapter cards for up to x8 link width support. Both of these are priced at $31,950. Finally, the VX-PCIE-148 , priced at $33,950, includes x1, x4 and x8 adapter cards.

For XMC analysis, you can choose the $19,950 VX-XMC-1 Vanguard Express analyzer. It has a license key for x1 link-width support. The VX-XMC-4 , priced at $23,950, is for x1 and x4 link-width, and the VX-XMC-8 includes a license key for x1, x4 and x8 link-width support. It's priced at $27,950.

Click here to access a datasheet (in Adobe Acrobat .PDF format), but you will have to register at VMETRO’s Web site.

Or, for more details, contact Nicole Renfro at VMETRO, Inc., 1880 Dairy Ashford, Suite 400, Houston, Texas 77077. Phone: (281) 584 0728. Fax: (281) 584 9034. E-mail:, or

VMETRO , 281-584-0728,

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