Industry-first toolset speeds development of new data storage devices

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept. 5, 2013 – Agilent Technologies has released three new solutions for advanced protocol analysis of devices using NVM Express (Non-Volatile Memory Express) storage technology. The analysis tools, designed as options for use with Agilent’s U4301A PCIe protocol analyzer and U4305 PCIe exerciser, are the industry’s first such tools for fast development of next-generation data storage devices using the PCI Express standard.

NVM Express, or NVMe, is a scalable host controller interface designed to address the needs of enterprise, data-center and client systems that use solid-state drives based on the PCI Express (PCIe) standard. It promises to improve the performance of PCIe-based drives through an optimized register interface and command set. Industry experts believe this new standardized interface will become the benchmark for high-performance storage for many years to come.

“Our customers told us that because NVMe was such a new interface, they were having trouble finding ways to test and validate their designs that use it,” said Don Schoenecker, product manager with Agilent’s oscilloscope and protocol  division. “We immediately began creating this set of tools that enhance our PCIe-based analysis solutions to enable our customers to respond with new storage devices using NVMe.”

Agilent’s PCIe digital test solution includes a complete and integrated x1 through x16 protocol analyzer and exerciser for the PCI Express 3.0 specification. The U4301A PCIe analyzer uses the industry’s only equalization snoop probe to enable reliable data capture at 8 GT/s, along with a range of tools, including LTSSM testing and a protocol test card, to validate PCIe designs.

Agilent’s transactional decoder allows the designer to select transactional queues and performance information from the analyzer’s NVMe transaction overview pane. This organizes the transactions by direction or by queue to follow the data flow across the interface with one-click control. Lists of physical-region pages contain all of the key information of the NVMe queues, allowing designers to quickly review and validate the data flows over the PCIe connections.

Agilent’s performance-analysis package includes the real data throughput calculations, with response-time measurement of the PCIe data flow. It allows designers to measure and understand throughput performance, PCIe response times, and other operational measurements that provide the insight needed to optimize device performance.

Agilent’s NVMe emulator allows designers to test devices and create operational scripts that allow hardware and software developers to simulate a host root complex. The emulator can test all of the NVMe functions of a storage device, from queue management to the transmission of high-traffic loads, creating test scenarios that can validate device operation.

These three new analysis packages will be demonstrated at the Intel Developer Forum , Sept. 10-12, at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. Agilent’s PCIe protocol test solutions operate at all PCIe speeds from 2.5GT/s to 8GT/s with multiple probing options to meet development needs.

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