What is a Protocol Analyzer?
A Protocol Analyzer is a measurement tool or device used to capture and monitor the data over a communication channel. It captures the data on the communication channel and coverts the data bits into a meaningful protocol sequence. A protocol analyzer uses a combination of software and hardware to analyze and capture the data over the communication channel. It empowers the engineer to understand the protocol and further analyze the captured protocol sequence. The protocol analyzer is very powerful in debugging the device and bus failures in the embedded system.
Type of Protocol Analyzer:
The industry has two types of protocol analyzers. Hardware protocol analyzer and software protocol analyzer.
Hardware protocol analyzer: The hardware-based protocol analyzer uses hardware and software to capture the packets. Hardware-based protocol analyzers are used to debug hardware and complex SoC protocol interfaces. The hardware-based protocol analyzer captures the packets of the interfaces for downstream analysis. Some of the common hardware based protocol analyzer are the UFS protocol analyzer, eMMC protocol analyzer, PCIe protocol analyzer.
Software protocol analyzer: Software-based protocol analyzer using only software to capture and analyze the protocol. These are commonly known as network analyzers. The software protocol analyzer is used for capture and analysis of LAN, Wireless network, etc.
How does a hardware protocol analyzer look like?
Fig 1.0 – I3C Protocol Analyzer and Exerciser
Prodigy’s Protocol analysis software – Captured Packet Image
Advantage of using the Protocol analyzer:
Development Time: By using a protocol analyzer the engineering team can cut down the development time significantly. The engineering team can quickly capture the protocol packets and do the analysis to the complex protocols. The debug time can be cut down from months to few weeks.
Errors in manual Analysis: Most teams use manual capture and analysis of the protocol. Manual reporting and analysis may work for a small amount of data but as the complexity of capture increases, the error in reporting and analysis also increases. Using protocol analyzer inbuilt software the error in capture can be reduced to zero
Automation of work Environment: Many protocol analyzers support API integrations enabling the engineers to create fully automated test cases. The automated test cases can be run as overnight regressions. This will enable engineers to create complex test cases and validate the system thoroughly.
Protocol compliance: The protocol analyzer can quickly report any violation of protocol standards and ensure proper compliance to the protocol standard.
Prodigy Technovations works on hardware protocol analyzers. Prodigy Technovations has developed a protocol analyzer from simple protocols like I2C to very complex protocols like PCIe. If you are looking to debug a design having complex interfaces or Protocols, make sure to check the below link.