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Support Question of the Week: Programming and Monitoring an EEPROM Chip

Q: I was looking for an I2C development tool to program an EEPROM chip and monitor the data as I program the EEPROM. Looking at your website, I found two I2C tools - the Aardvark I2C/SPI Host Adapter and the Beagle I2C/SPI Protocol Analyzer. Can you tell me what the difference is between the Aardvark and the Beagle? Which tool should I use?

A: Thanks for your question! First, let's discuss the differences between an adapter and an analyzer. The host adapter actively transmits data on the bus, and generally can perform as a master or a slave. The protocol analyzer non-intrusively monitors all traffic on the bus. Now, specifically about the Aardvark adapter and the Beagle I2C/SPI analyzer:

  • The Aardvark I2C/SPI Host Adapter is an active tool capable of transmitting messages across the I2C bus. This USB to I2C adapter can function as an I2C master or an I2C slave, at speeds up to 800 kHz. To see the Aardvark adapter in action, watch this video here.
Aardvark I2C/SPI Host Adapter

  • The Beagle I2C/SPI Protocol Analyzer is able to non-intrusively monitor all traffic on the I2C bus. Unlike the Aardvark adapter, it cannot actively transmit or program data; however, it is capable of reporting traffic between master and slave and vice versa. This type of passive tool may also be called a "sniffer" or a "packet sniffer." This I2C bus analyzer non-intrusively monitors I2C data at up to 4 MHz.
Beagle I2C/SPI Protocol Analyzer


Since you are looking to program an EEPROM chip and monitor the data as this occurs, you would need to use the Beagle analyzer and the Aardvark adapter concurrently. First, hook up the Beagle analyzer and the Aardvark adapter to your bus. Then, start the Beagle analyzer utilizing our Data Center Software - you will be able to monitor all traffic on the bus. Next, using our Control Center Software, use the Aardvark adapter to program your EEPROM. While the programming occurs, the Beagle analyzer will capture all data between the Aardvark adapter and your EEPROM, providing an accurate record of all activity on the bus during the process.

The Aardvark adapter and Beagle analyzer, when used in conjunction, enable you to transmit data, receive data, and log all activity on the I2C bus. By the way, if you're interested in saving a little money, we offer an I2C development kit, which bundles the Aardvark I2C/SPI Host Adapter, Beagle I2C/SPI Protocol Analyzer, one I2C/SPI Activity Board, and two 10-Pin Split Cables.

Watch an example of the Aardvark adapter and Beagle analyzer joining forces to program and monitor an I2C-based system that uses a 3-axis accelerometer here.

We hope this answers your questions! Good luck with developing your I2C product and please let us know if you have any questions at sales@totalphase.com or support@totalphase.com.