Data Center Software Series: Block View

The Data Center Software is a staple tool for embedded engineers. It allows users to easily monitor and sniff bus data in embedded systems, which is often necessary when developing new products or debugging existing ones. Total Phase, a company built by and for engineers, knows the value of bus monitoring which is why Data Center Software and our line of hardware analyzers were created.

Our Beagle line of analyzers in particular are capable of non-intrusively monitoring USB, I2C, and SPI data in true, real-time and have quickly become an industry standard for debugging. Our analyzers are interfaced through the Data Center Software, which is packed with useful, community-curated features that provide detailed information into bus data. In this article, we will discuss one of the many features in the software called “Block View”.

Block View

By popular demand, Block View was added as a graphical viewing option for data captured using hardware bus analyzers like the Beagle analyzers and Komodo CAN Duo Interface. While the Tree View in the Transaction Window is an excellent and concise way of displaying captured data, many users have requested a block-style representation. Our Block View provides an alternate representation of the selected record that combines the hierarchical layout of the Transaction Window with the detailed information found in the Info Pane. Let’s take a closer look at the Block View and see what information is displayed in the data blocks.

 

Tree View vs Block View

A Closer Look at Block View

For this example, we will be looking at a data block from a USB thumb drive captured with the Beagle USB 480 Protocol Analyzer and the Data Center Software.  Like previously mentioned, Block View provides users with detailed information on specific data packets within the data-trace. What information is displayed in the Block View? Let’s take a closer look at a data packet in Block View to find out.

 

Enabling Block View

Data Center Software has a variety of different data viewing features built into the software. To enable the Block View feature, click on the Block View button at the top of the software.

Enable Block View

 

Get Configuration Descriptors Trace

We will specifically take a look at the “Get Configuration Descriptor” packet. This is essentially a packet within the enumeration or “handshake” process between the host and device. To simplify further, these packets tell the host PC what is being plugged into it and how to communicate with it properly.

The “Get Configuration Descriptor” packet is broken down into three pieces; SETUP txn, IN txn, and OUT txn (txn stands for a transaction). Each tab can be expanded for more information.

"Get Configuration Descriptor" packet

 

To preview the data  using Block View, simply click on the desired data transaction. The selected record will be highlighted in the Block View window. This can be seen in the image below.

Highlighted SETUP txn

 

SETUP txn

You can also see that when the “SETUP txn” packet is clicked, it expands to show three more packets types; SETUP, DATA0, and ACK packet.

"SETUP txn" data packet expanded

 

Each of these packets is also presented in the Block View as seen below. You can see SETUP highlighted in yellow, DATA0 in orange, and ACK in green.

SETUP DATA0 ACK

 

Each of these packets contains data as seen in the Transaction Window at the top of the page. That data is then displayed in an alternate format in Block View. You can see the time stamp, duration, and speed of each transaction. The SETUP packet includes address, endpoint, and CRC information. The DATA0 packet contains data and CRC information and the ACK packet contains the ACK data.

 

IN txn

When the “IN txn” packet is clicked, it expands to show four packets types; “IN-NAK”, “IN packet”, “DATA1 packet”, and “ACK packet”.

"IN txn" data expanded

 

 

You can see in the image above that each row of data displayed in the trace on the top half of the screen is also displayed hierarchically on the bottom half of the screen in the Block View window. The data is also parsed and labeled for a quick and easy-to-read, high-level understanding of the data. The “IN-NAK” data is shown in the block view in gray, “IN packet” in blue, “DATA1” packet in orange, and the “ACK” packet once again in green.

 

OUT txn

As we continue down to the “OUT txn” packet you can see the data displayed the same as the previous two packets. The “OUT txn” packet, once expanded, contains three segments of data; “OUT packet”, “DATA1 packet”, “ACK packet”. Each of these packets then corresponds to the data displayed in the Block View at the bottom of the screen. The “OUT packet” is labeled in green, the “DATA1 packet” in orange, and the “ACK packet” in green.

"OUT txn" transaction expanded

 

Conclusion

Block View within the Data Center Software provides an alternate way to view bus data in a hierarchical format that contains integrated details and field information.  At Total Phase, we strive to make the debug process as quick and simple as possible, and the Block View is just one of many features that enables this. For more information about the Data Center Software check out the Data Center Software User Manual.