Agilent Technologies Inc. and Xilinx Inc. have announced a collaborative solution for testing and optimizing high-speed serial links implemented with Xilinx RocketIO multi-gigabit transceivers (MGTs). The new tool, the Agilent E5910A serial link optimizer combines Agilent measurement and analysis software with Xilinx intellectual property and JTAG communication infrastructure.
The new Agilent E5910A serial link optimizer tool will be used by design teams in the computer, communications, semiconductor, and aerospace and defense industries. These designers face new system-design challenges associated with the migration of traditional parallel digital buses to gigabit-speed serial bus structures.
Agilent's serial link optimizer software is based on the infrastructure provided by the Xilinx ChipScope Serial I/O Toolkit, introduced in April 2006. ChipScope Serial I/O toolkit provides an internal bit error ratio tester (IBERT) core that can be placed in the FPGA, along with a JTAG infrastructure enabled by the Xilinx programming cables.
The Agilent software builds on the core and communications infrastructure to provide an analysis environment for BER testing, graphical margin analysis via eye mapping, and automatic link tuning for optimal BER. Support is provided initially for the Xilinx Virtex-4 FX FPGA Platform; the newly introduced 65 nm Virtex-5 LXT FPGA Platform, with low power transceivers will soon be added via a no-cost software upgrade.
The Agilent E5910A serial link optimizer embodies the continuation of collaboration with Xilinx that has previously produced breakthrough concepts in coupling test and measurement with FPGA technology, specifically Agilent's FPGA dynamic probe, first introduced in March 2004. The FPGA dynamic probe won numerous innovation awards in 2004 and remains a market success today.
According to Agilent, the concept of embedding circuitry in silicon to enable more effective testing has been used in limited fashion for some time. Agilent’s work with Xilinx brings this concept to reality for a much broader group of users, enabling unprecedented design and debug insights in an easy-to-use and affordable tool.
According to Xilinx, as IC speed and complexity continue to increase, this contribution will only grow in significance. Xilinx’s work with Agilent extends its own tools and enables multi-gigabit serial I/O design to the mainstream system design community. Xilinx’s ChipScope Serial I/O Toolkit and the Agilent E5910A serial link optimizer bring advanced technology to a new group of system designers that will accelerate the industry's transition from parallel to serial buses.