Data Center Software Series: LiveFilter

The Data Center Software is Total Phase’s free bus monitoring software that is used in conjunction with our protocol analyzers and offers a variety of ways to monitor and debug data in real time. One of the most useful features of the Data Center Software is the LiveFilter feature, which allows users to refine large streams of data and focus on data of interest. In this blog post, we will discuss what the LiveFilter feature is, which parameters it can filter, and how it can be used. First, we will provide a brief introduction into the Data Center Software.

Data Center Software

 

About the Data Center Software

We at Total Phase provide a variety of debugging and development tools to assist engineers with testing and analyzing I2C, SPI, USB, CAN, eSPI, and A2B applications. Our protocol analyzers in particular allow users to monitor and capture bus data in real time, providing insight into low-level bus events and errors.

These protocol analyzers, including the line of Beagle Protocol Analyzers, USB Power Delivery Analyzer, Promira Serial Platform, and Komodo CAN Interfaces, are used in conjunction with the Data Center Software, which provides an interface to capture and display USB, I2C, SPI, USB Type-C Power Delivery, eSPI, and CAN bus data. The Data Center Software is the only protocol analysis software in the industry with true, real-time performance and cross-platform support for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

The software is packed with useful and time-saving features. One of the features that users find most beneficial is the LiveFilter feature.

LiveFilter Feature in the Data Center Software

Before we discuss what can be filtered and how to use the LiveFilter feature, we will briefly explain why this feature is critical in protocol analysis.

LiveFilter Applications

When working on projects, engineers will often run into system errors or bugs. Whether it be integration issues, programing or software bugs, or erratic system behavior, having a hardware analyzer tool to help identify the root cause of the problem can be crucial. One of the best ways to fix a problem is to replicate the problem, capture and study it, and then implement the appropriate hardware or software fix. The Data Center Software allows developers to perform the capture and analysis step when identifying the problem.

Beagle USB 12 Protocol Analyzer with a USB mouse

To utilize the Data Center Software, developers can hook their Total Phase protocol analysis tools to their embedded system and run live tests. By connecting their system and replicating their setup, the Data Center Software will record every transaction occurring on the bus in true, real time, taking the guesswork out of the debugging and development phase. To drill down even further into specific data and bus errors, the Data Center Software has LiveFilter technology that allows developers to easily see, filter, and search bus data as it is being captured. So, what exactly can users filter for and against using this functionality?

What Parameters Can Be Filtered Using LiveFilter?

Depending on the tool being used, the LiveFilter feature will allow users to filter for or against various bus data patterns, packets, errors, and more for I2C, SPI, CAN, USB, and eSPI protocols. Users can seamlessly switch between filtered and non-filtered views with a single click, and when disabling the filter, users can see all the transactions that occurred before and after the event for easier debugging.

General Filtering

For all protocols, the LiveFilter feature will provide options for general filtering. Here, data can be filtered in both Hex and ASCII. Specific data patterns, text, and errors can be typed into the “Data”, “Text” and, “Errors” boxes. Users can also filter data based on Index, Length, and Duration.

Data Center general filtering options

USB Filters

When the Beagle USB Protocol Analyzer is used with the Data Center Software, users can filter for different USB parameters, including Class, Protocol, and Packet specific data. Depending on the Beagle USB Protocol Analyzer being used, data can be filtered for both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 protocols.

Packet data on the USB 2.0 bus can be filtered for: Tokens, Data, Handshake, Special, and PIDs. Packet data on the USB 3.0 bus can be filtered for: Link Flow, Link Power, Link Status, Transactions, Data Headers, and Data Payloads. The filters for this criteria can be toggled on and off at any point of the USB capture/trace.

Filter options for USB 2.0 and 3.0 applications

 

When filtering for Class and Protocol data, additional filter options are presented. Class filtering enables users to filter based on Device Requests Direction, Type, Recipient, and Class Transfers. Protocol filtering enables users to filter both Token and Handshake transactions on the USB bus. The filters for this criteria can also be toggled on and off at any point of the USB capture/trace.

USB Class and Protocol filtering options

I2C/SPI Filters

When the Beagle I2C/SPI Protocol Analyzer is used with the Data Center Software, users can filter for specific I2C or SPI bus parameters. These filters can easily be toggled on and off at any point in the data capture.

For I2C, users can filter 7- and 10-bit addresses and specify for ACKed, NACKed, read, and write data transactions.

Filter options for the I2C and SPI bus in Data Center

For SPI, users can filter for or against MOSI and MISO data using Hex or ASCII.

SPI Bus Filter Data Center Software

 

CAN Filters

When the Komodo CAN Interface is used with the Data Center Software, users can filter for various CAN bus parameters, including Device ID, Extended ID, and Data Length Code. Filters can also be applied for Traffic, Channel, Error States, and Records.

CAN bus filters in Data Center

 

eSPI Filters

When using the eSPI Analysis Application on the Promira Serial Platform, users can also filter for a variety of eSPI bus parameters using LiveFilter. Users can filter based on Packet data and also by Channel.

eSPI bus filters in Data Center

 

How to Use LiveFilter

Filters are created and applied to the capture through the LiveFilter tab of the Navigator pane in the Data Center Software. Simply click on the “LiveFilter” tab at the bottom of the Navigator pane to reveal the LiveFilter options.

LiveFiltering tab in the navigator pane

 

To apply a filter for these parameters, click on the "Apply" button in the LiveFilter tab. Upon applying the filter, all filter parameters will be applied at the same time. A transaction must meet all the filter requirements and only those meeting such requirements will appear in the Transaction window.

Filter Apply button in the navigator pane

 

Instant Filters

Once filters are enabled, it is possible to instantly apply filters to provide immediate feedback to ensure that the correct filter parameters have been set. For data captures larger than 1 GB, there may be a small delay when applying a filter.

Instant filters are controlled by the instant filter toggle button next to the "Apply" button. To activate or deactivate this feature, click on the “lightning” button.

Lighting button in LiveFilter feature

 

Enabling/Disabling Filters

If a filter is enabled, the enabled button at the bottom of the LiveFilter tab will be active. To enable/disable the filter, click on the “checkmark” button. Any hidden transactions will immediately become visible.

Checkmark button in LiveFilter feature

 

Editing Filters

You may edit filter settings without applying them by editing the fields of the LiveFilter tab. Clicking the "Revert" button will update the LiveFilter fields with the options from the last filter that was applied, regardless of whether it is currently enabled or disabled.

Revert button in LiveFilter feature

 

Restoring LiveFilter Defaults

The default filter state matches all packets and does not filter any data from the capture. To restore the default filter state to the LiveFilter tab, click the "Default" button at the bottom of the LiveFilter tab window. Note that the "Default" button only affects the state of the LiveFilter pane and will not apply any settings to the filter.

Restore all filter setting to default settings

 

The Data Center Software’s LiveFilter feature is one of the most helpful features used to debug and analyze large amounts of bus data, as well as pinpoint areas of interest. This award-winning software combined with our tools has been the preferred protocol analysis solution by developers and their colleagues all over the world. For more information on the Data Center Software or Total Phase tools, please contact us at sales@totalphase.com.