Logic Analyzers Go Beyond 1's and 0's

June 27, 2005

2 Min Read
Logic Analyzers Go Beyond 1's and 0's

Engineers select a logic analyzer when they must determine the states and timing of many parallel signals, such as those from a microcontroller or other processor. However, the need to analyze and monitor multi-lane serial buses such as PCI Express and Serial Advanced Technology Attachment III (SATA III) can exceed the capabilities of many logic analyzers (LAs). To help designers, today's logic analyzers must parse serial bit streams and reassemble them into data meaningful to engineers. Two new logic analyzers from Tektronix, the TLA7012 portable mainframe and the TLA7016 benchtop mainframe, handle such serial streams and provide an easy-to-use interface that simplifies test setup and interpretation of data. Both instruments operate with every logic analyzer module in the company's TLA family. The TLA7012 accepts two modules (272 digital channels) and the TLA7016 can accommodate as many as six modules (816 digital channels).

The TLA7016 benchtop instrument ($16,000) connects to a host PC and the TLA7012 portable logic analyzer ($14,000) comes with a built-in computer based on an Intel® Pentium® M processor. The new instruments provide more than a threefold increase in data throughput that results in faster data analysis, searching, zooming, and filtering. More than any other feature, though, the new TLA Application Software 5.0 sets these new instruments apart from other logic analyzers.

Old Hat, New Tricks

The software's drag-and-drop interface may sound like old hat, but Tektronix uses the Windows-like operations and interfaces in new ways. Engineers no longer must switch screens or press long sequences of buttons to select triggering options. They can select triggers and setup menus, and invoke other tools by clicking on "tabs" while simultaneously watching data and locating trigger points within a data window. Trigger setups— trigger on an edge, trigger on a bus value, and so on—seem almost intuitive and do not require selections from long lists. The 15-inch (diagonal) display in the TLA7012 makes it easy to simultaneously view complex logic waveforms, analysis results, and trigger settings. Should developers feel the need, they can use two side-by-side displays with the TLA7012 or TLA7016 to create a wider display of signals and data.

The software's analysis tools simplify measurements by relying on users to position cursor marks and trigger points on displayed data. The TLA Application Software 5.0 runs with Windows XP Professional and Windows 2000. Engineers can update older instruments, such as the TLA715, TLA721, and the TLA5000 series, to use the new software.


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