Test & Measurement

Tektronix Tests 20 Gb/s Throughput Infiniband Cable from Intel

27th June 2007
ES Admin
Tektronix has announced that it has successfully validated the performance of the new Intel 100 meter Infiniband cable operating at speeds up to 20 Gb/s. The world’s longest InfiniBand optical cable has an electrical interface on either end and uses four serial data lanes at 5 Gb/s each. The cable will be useful in accelerating the performance of large computing clusters. The cables will be used as the part of the backbone network at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) show in Dresden, Germany.
The need for accelerating performance - greater bandwidth and speed - continues to grow whether to drive graphics where the CPU, graphics subsystem, and the memory must move data constantly as the image moves or creating ever faster supercomputing backplanes to help unlock the riddles of high energy physics. To keep pace, information busses – the data conduits between electronic components – will continue to grow wider and move data faster. The new Infiniband cable from Intel is the newest proof point.

“We are happy to have been able to validate the performance of the longest and fastest Infiniband cables in the industry from Intel,” said Lynne Camp, vice president, Performance Plus Instruments, Tektronix. “As multi-gigabit data rates become common in digital systems, signal integrity – the quality of the signal necessary for proper operation of an integrated circuit - is becoming a paramount concern for designers. Tektronix was able to meet the exacting demands of this test by using instrumentation from our next generation serial data test bench.”

“Tektronix is well recognized as being expert in signal integrity with proven knowledge in addressing complex, high-speed measurements and analysis,” said Tuan Phamdo, Intel Technology Enabling Manager and Co-Chair of the IBTA Compliance Working Group. “This experience coupled with a strong focus on addressing leading and emerging serial data technologies made them an ideal choice for assisting Intel with the testing of the new Intel Connects Cables. Their engineers and expertise were a tremendous help in performing the final validation.”

The Infiniband cable test specification requires that a signal with a specific impairment is provided from a signal source. This was done using the Tektronix AWG7102 Arbitrary Waveform Generator transmitting a test pattern at 5 Gb/s. The signal impairment is created using the Tektronix Direct Synthesis method. Direct synthesis is a flexible and repeatable method for creating ideal or impaired waveforms that are then directly synthesized by the Tektronix AWG7000 series of arbitrary waveform generators. The AWG is capable of providing precise, programmable impaired signals up to 6 Gb/s, providing a unique solution for both cable tests and receiver tests in high speed serial links.

On the eye diagram measurement side, a Tektronix DSA8200 sampling Digital Signal Analyzer was used to make the jitter and eye measurements. Advanced Jitter, Noise and BER Analysis Software (JNB) software was used to analyze the BER of the cable down to the cable's 10-15 BER specification.

Tektronix has been a participant in the InfiniBand ecosystem for a long time, said Jit Lim, Tektronix Technology Solutions Manager. Since the early days of InfiniBand, we have been actively involved in the InfiniBand Compliance and Interoperability program and for years chaired the Compliance and Interoperability physical layer working group in the IBTA. When Intel came to us asking if we'd help launch their new SDR/DDR 100 Meter Intel Connects Cables, we were happy to verify the compliance of their cable per the InfiniBand specification. This technology is sure to substantially advance the high performance interconnect cable industry, as well as find its way into other high speed applications.

Tektronix has deep expertise with cable testing. Tektronix has been the industry leader in the characterization and compliance validation of SFF8470 cables since their initial release in 2002. Every SFF8470 cable that is certified in the industry today has received that certification using a Tektronix TDS/CSA/DSA 8200 based system. Tektronix has tested roughly 500 cables in the last 5 years. While generally known as an InfiniBand cable, a SFF8470 cable is also used in a number of other key technologies such as 10Gig Ethernet/XAUI, CX4, Fiber-Channel, SATA-M, and SAS-M.

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