Semiconductor Equipment

PCIe 6.0 has arrived, and electronics testing isn’t far behind

19 October 2022

Originally designed to replace its slower peripheral component interconnect (PCI) cousin, the PCI Express (PCIe) interface for high-speed connections has become the de facto standard for data-intensive environments such as AI, the cloud and data centers. The standard’s latest iteration (Gen 6.0) arrived in January of this year, and electronics testing equipment makers are beginning to rise to the challenge of releasing new products optimized for the protocol.

A recently announced automated PCI2 6.0 test solution runs on multiple devices, including the DPO70000SX oscilloscopes seen here. Source: Tektronix Inc.A recently announced automated PCI2 6.0 test solution runs on multiple devices, including the DPO70000SX oscilloscopes seen here. Source: Tektronix Inc.Back in March 2020, Electronics360 reported on what Anritsu called an industry-first PCIe 5.0 receiver test solution for its Signal Quality Analyzer-R MP1900A; flash forward to October 2022 and we find that the company has just announced support for the analogous PCIe 6.0 test for the same device, along with an SKP function to support SRNS clock architecture. Anritsu also states that future PCIe 6.0 card electromechanical (CEM) specifications can be easily supported by the MP1900A’s flexible multi-channel platform and software architecture.

Electronics360 also reported on a base transmitter solution released by Tektronix just weeks after release of the Gen 6 standard, designed for use with its DPO70000SX oscilloscope series. More recently, the company has noted that a collaboration with Anritsu has produced an automated PCIe 6.0 test solution that runs on both the MP1900A and the DPO70000SX. In a press release, Tektronix noted the difficulty of PCIe receiver validation due to the sensitivity of calibrating a stressed eye signal across a high loss channel, emphasizing the importance of thorough design testing at the required bit error rate (BER) target. The company adds that it began working with Anritsu early to be prepared for the standard and collaborated with Synopsys on validation of early-stage prototypes.

In a blog post, Keysight Technologies explained more about the evolution to PCIe 6.0 — the first PCI Express standard to use PAM4 signal encoding, which translates to twice the throughput of PCIe 5.0 while still maintaining channel bandwidth, low power and backward compatibility with previous generations. The standard uses the same high-level approach for transmitter (Tx) and receiver (Rx) testing while adding new transmitter measurements that are specific to PAM4 encoding.

Clearly, products like these are just the beginning of the integration of PCIe 6.0 familiar testing equipment from familiar brands. To stay on top of the latest developments, keep an eye on Electronics360.

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