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Apparatus for analyzing communication between a blade server and its expansion units or daughter cards

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000188747D
Original Publication Date: 2009-Oct-21
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2009-Oct-21
Document File: 5 page(s) / 245K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Today’s I/O adapters are getting more and more complex. It is common practice for an Ethernet or InfiniBand adapter to have the same complexity like a modern CPU. Due to this increase in complexity it is very important for system developers and third party adapter vendors to have appropriate debug facilities and the option to analyze these adapters in real-life situations. This article addresses this problem to debug I/O adapters in real-life situation. It is an apparatus to analyze the communication between a blade server and its expansion units or daughter cards.

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Apparatus for analyzing communication between a blade server and its expansion units or daughter cards

Today's I/O adapters are getting more and more complex. It is common practice for an Ethernet or InfiniBand adapter to have the same complexity like a modern CPU. One reason is that this components using similar technologies like a memory management unit, implemented hypervisor functionality or accelerator units. Due to this increase in complexity it is very important for system developers and third party adapter vendors to have appropriate debug facilities and the option to analyze these adapters in real-life situations. This will decrease the bring-up time and the debug process by a significant amount.

To get a good understanding why a system failure occurred, it is necessary to trace the bus traffic between a CPU and the I/O adapter. Normally, such an I/O adapter is connected via the PCI Express bus to a system. There are several companies that addresses this problem via special PCI Express analyzer products, but the problems is that it is not possible to use these products in a normal blade server environment. This is due to the usage of a special form factors, special backplanes, different connectors and proprietary high-speed daughter cards.

This article addresses this problem. It is an apparatus to analyze the communication between a blade server and its expansion units or daughter cards. The advantages of this solution are:

Expansion units or daughter cards can be analyzed in a product environment. Before it was necessary to recreate a customer problem with the same failure and behavior in a special bring-up environment. It was not possible for third party vendors to analyze their products within an official tested and certified environment.

Standard on-the-shelf products can analyze expansion units or daughter cards. This allows the usage of existing PCI Express analyzer products.

Daughter cards can be used without limited functionality. In many debug environments it is not possible to use the same functionality as in an official product environment. This is because the usage of special backplanes, which are needed to achieve a high level of integration between the corresponding daughter cards and switches. The problem is that on-the-self PCI Express analyzer products doesn't know anything about proprietary backplanes. To have exactly the same I/O fan-out as in a product environment this solution addresses this problem by using an additional backplane slot.

In summary, there are several products available that can be used to analyze PCI Express traffic. However, these products are not transparent to hardware end software, because it is necessary to have modification in both areas. Also...