Hands on PCI interface ...

Interfacing via ISA bus is very easy but slow and it is getting difficult to find ISA based PCs. USB bus easy to use but its packet stucture and therefore the latency is an
issue for some real-time applications.
So, I want to learn how to build and work/play with PCI interfaces. Can you suggest what is the easiest and low-cost way of involving with the PCI bus to learn with hands on experiments?
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Nico wrote:

Try PLX Technology, www.plxtech.com. They make PCI bus interface chips and they have eval boards and reference design kits for their parts. I have used their parts on several projects and been very satisfied.
Dave Rooney
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difficult to

an
you
bus
For production (not playing around) I'd also take a look at QuickLogic. Another approach is a FPGA - and possibly som IP...
/Anders
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On Thu, 3 Feb 2005 04:26:11 +1100, <Nico> wrote:

This is the reason I keep ISA bus based PCs around and working.

Well, ponying up to PCI will not be cheap. First, you need to understand the difference between reflection wave and incident wave -- PCI is reflection wave. Second, there are very tight constraints implied by the technology. Your PCI clock line must be 1.5" +/- 0.1" in length, signal lines are to be less than 2.5" (if memory serves), and you will often find weird serpentine clock lines to meet that 1.5" requirement. Third, because of the loading requirements (at 33MHz, some 10pF total; at 66Mhz, 5pF), you will be using an ASIC. No discrete logic with multiple loads on single lines, for example. Fourth, you will pay much more dearly for instruments that can monitor and display PCI bus signals. Fifth, PCI mandates plug-and-play and certain minimum register requirements and the ability to assign block addresses, if needed.
You can get low cost ASICs. But the rest makes this not low-cost and there is a high threshold of knowledge required, as well. PCI was almost designed from the ground up to exclude basement developers.
Jon
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Most modern PCB design packages will tell you the length of a trace. No real problem here.

ASIC? FPGA will do just fine, but the chips made by PLX are often found as a universal piece of glue.

??? The 96 channel / 100MHz logic analyzer I picked up on Ebay for US$ 66 works very nice to monitor PCI signals.

Creating a PCI implementation is difficult, but there are numerous ways to get a PCI core or bridge (like the PLX chips). No need to bother with tedious timing. The PCI specification can be downloaded from several sites. It just comes down to a proper PCB layout on the PCI side.
The fastest way to get started with PCI is using a PLX chip.
--
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On Wed, 02 Feb 2005 19:34:29 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@puntnl.niks (Nico Coesel) wrote:

It's just not a hobbyist thing, frankly. The ISA is dirt easy and anyone can do it.
Jon
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Jonathan Kirwan wrote:

Thanks for the hardware intro. How about writing a driver ? There won't be single stepping through code I'm afraid...
Rene
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wrote:

We wrote a little DOS app that makes PCI bios calls. It can find a PCI board and drag it down into a hole in the 640K-1M real address space where you can bang the registers all you want. Works under DOS or Win9x.
I wonder if there are any equivalent true-Windows programs.
John
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You might want to take a look at this:
http://h-storm.tantos.homedns.org/hc_pci.htm
I've made this card exactly for this application: to allow myself to interface to a modern PC without fighting with the PCI bus every time. It is basically a simple ISA-like PCI bridge. You can attach a douther-card on top of it and add whaterver circuit you like. You don't even need a driver if you can go without interrupts.
Regards, Andras Tantos
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Jonathan Kirwan wrote:

AFAIK the PLX chips have a rather straight-forward backend bus, and I think some of them can even do PCI to ISA if you really want to, so apart from the requirement that you need to have a decent PCB if you want it to work reliably it shouldn't be that difficult and PLX most likely have an app-note on how the PCB should look.
-Lasse
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On Wed, 02 Feb 2005 23:43:25 +0100, Lasse Langwadt Christensen

There is still a high learning curve if something does NOT work as you expect it to. You need the tools and the knowledge.
Of course, if everything works right out of the box, so to speak, then no problem. But then reality does impinge.
I still do NOT consider PCI development to be hobbyist stuff.
Jon
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On Wed, 02 Feb 2005 23:40:56 +0000, Jonathan Kirwan wrote:

It's not *that* difficult. The design kits have all the information needed.

It's certainly within the upper-end hobbyist's realm. ...at least with the PLX bridge chips or prototype cards.
--
Keith

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There, I may agree.
Jon
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On Wed, 02 Feb 2005 19:00:33 +0000, Jonathan Kirwan wrote:

You really don't have to get into it in that detail unless you're pushing the envelope.

2.5" +- /1", though that isn't generally a problem. For a product, sure.

Must be less than .75", IIRC. They really need to be as short as possible. 2.5" likely *won't* work. Stubs are badness!

Yes, almost always (2.5").

Yes, and the receivers aren't typical CMOS. Many FPGAs have PCI I/O. Either is a bad plan for one-off designs though. As mentioned before in this thread, PLX bridges are the way to go. They have PCI<->ISA brifges that work quite well. There are also PCI<->ISA cards.

Not really true. There are some relatively cheap bus monitors. If one sticks to a known bridge design a scope is all that's needed. I got a PLX-9054 based card running with no more than a scope.

Another reason to go with a known design. ;-)

Not ASICs. ASSPs (Application Specific Standard Products).

Designed to exclude? Are you implying that they intentionally raised the entry bar? That's some charge! There is a reason for complication. It makes life simpler. ;-)
--
Keith

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Keith wrote:

Can you let me know where I can get a PCI to ISA card?
Modern computer with PCI only, need to plug in an ISA card.
Rich
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Generic cards are hard to come by and probably wouldn't work. There can only be one PCI-to-ISA bridge in a system and that's usually in the chipset (nowdays it is the bridge towards the LPC bus). PLX has a board with the PCI9052 that has an ISA bus slot on it (the PCI 9052RDK-LITE for $299) but that's far from being a universal solution.
Regards, Andras Tantos
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On 3 Feb 2005 15:12:33 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

The southbridge or PCI-ISA bridge chip can only exist with "side-band" channels to the main chipset. There is only one of these possible, and then only if the rest of the chipset supports the southbridge concept. The side-band channels do not exist as signals on the PCI bus, so I don't believe that it would be possible to do a PCI board that provides full ISA -- more particularly, support for ISA DMA. You might be able to get by with some specialized FPGA or ASIC for the purposes of a reduced ISA feature set connecting to the PCI (no DMA and with subtractive decoding for the ISA address space.)
I haven't heard of such a thing, though.
Jon
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snipped-for-privacy@easystreet.com says...

No side-band channels/signals are needed.

Only one "subtractive decoder" is possible. Southbridges use "subtractive decoding", so only one southbridge is possible.

Perhaps, but only because the DMA controller's addresses are already used by the southbridge. ISA busmaster is also a likely "issue".

The PLX 9052 is a PCI to ISA bridge. IIRC it's only a PCI target device though.
--
Keith


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Why do you say this? It's certainly been true for as long as I've worked on these chipsets. That does date back to the P2, but have things changed? I doubt it.
Jon
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snipped-for-privacy@easystreet.com says...

No sideband signals are in the PCI spec (they wouldn't be "sideband" ;-). Certainly the southbridge and subtractive decoding are covered.
--
Keith

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