Protocol analysis for products that use NVM Express storage technology

September 10, 2013 // By Graham Prophet
Agilent has three new solutions for advanced protocol analysis of devices using NVM Express (Non-Volatile Memory Express) storage technology.

The analysis tools, options for use with Agilent's U4301A PCIe protocol analyser 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-centre 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 optimised register interface and command set. Industry observers believe this new standardised 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.

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

A transactional decoder allows the designer to select transactional queues and performance information from the analyser's NVMe transaction overview pane. This organises 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.

A 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.

Agilent's NVMe emulator allows designers to test devices and create operational scripts that allow hardware and software developers to simulate