PL3 Interface


The input of our design is interfaced using the PL3 standard. PL3 is a standard which provides the interface for the interconnection of Physical Layer (PHY) devices to ATM/Link layer devices implementing frame based ATM.

The Interface

The interface consists of a 32-bit wide data bus and handshaking signals.

The data bus takes the data being passed and stores it in an input buffer /queue. The handshaking signals that are used signal the end of a packet (EOP), the start of a packet (SOP), a transmitted error (ERR), parity (PRTY) and others. There are also signals from the PHY (our device) to the link layer device specifying if the input buffer on our device is full or not (DTPA). If the input buffer is full, transmission to our device will be halted until there is room. This will not result in a loss of data sequence, so we do not have to worry about data being dropped on the floor.


Packets are only transferred when the enable signal (enb) is asserted low. At any time the enable signal is high, all data is halted and the recieving system does not look at any signals other than the enable signal. If the transmitting system is setup such that new data is only put on the data bus when the enable signal is asserted, no data is ever lost, only delayed. The following figure shows an example timing diagram for the PL3 interface.

As we can see above, when the Start of Packet signal (sop) is asserted, the data on the bus represents the first 4 bytes of the packet. From this point on, until the End Of Packet signal (eop) is asserted, each clock cycle contains the next 4 bytes of the packet on the data bus. Of course, all this is only valid when the enable signal is asserted low. When the EOP signal is asserted, the data bus holds the last bytes of the frame. Since not all frames are multiples of 4 bytes, this last transmission may have only 1 to 4 bytes of valid data. The number of invalid bytes is determined by the Mode signal (tmod). For example, in the above figure the value of TMOD is "11" which represents 3. This means that there are 3 invalid bytes and therefore only the first byte (31 downto 24) is valid. Similarly, a TMOD of "01" would represent 1 invalid byte and the first 3 bytes (31 downto 8) are valid.

Also seen the above figure, when an alarm is received from the PHY (DTPA), it represents that only a certain number of bytes are available in the input queue. This value is pre-defined by the user. When an alarm is received by the Link Layer device, it should halt data transmission as long as the alarm is low. This is because all signals are ignored while the alarm is on, as can be seen by the above timing diagram. The alarm should stay low until there is enough room for a specified number of bytes. This functionality can be seen in the following input state diagram