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IDT sees new market with flow control ICs

Posted: 11 Jul 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:fcm ic? fpga? asic? flow control management? discrete devices?

Integrated Device Technology Inc. recently debuted its first single-chip device for advanced data flow management. The flow control management (FCM) chips that IDT introduced has the ability to integrate multiple silicon functions such as high-speed buffering, switching, multiplexing/demultiplexing, domain transitions, and random and sequential access capabilities.

IDT began its initial salvo of FCM chips with the launch of the quad-mux and multi-queue ICs. The quad-mux IC is a family of three devices up to 5bits that can be configured as a multiplexer, demultiplexer or broadcast device and can run up to 16Gbps. According to IDT, the quad-mux architecture renders the integration of data from multimedia interfaces by seamlessly matching the input data rate of each media interface and the packet data rate of the converged data.

The multi-queue IC, on the other hand, is a 2.5V device that has a common memory and can be configured up to 32 individual queues at 7Gbps. The device has DDR/SDR capabilities necessary for applications that require quality of service (QoS), data differentiation and parallel buffering of multiple data streams. In addition to acting as a buffer, says IDT, the device can be used to segregate and prioritize data at full-line rates through multiple queues - previously achieved through more expensive and cumbersome implementations.

Today's system designers generally use homegrown tools such as ASICs, FPGAs, DRAMs, SRAMs, and other discrete devices in managing the flow of data in systems. But with the advent of FCM chips, things will begin to get easier for them. "We've created something off-the-shelf by integrating multiple technologies onto a single chip. And combining all these technologies will provide the same functionality that designers otherwise achieve in months by using homegrown tools," said Michael Olsen, IDT's strategic marketing director.

The new family of devices aims to replace the traditional methods of muxing multiple data streams at different data rates provided by homegrown tools. "It's a new category in the semiconductor industry," said Olsen. "We now have the ability to develop devices that can directly replace homegrown solutions." In effect, Olsen added, FCM chips take away or minimizes the functionality of FPGAs or ASICs and simplifies it by pulling a lot of logic off-chip on to an off-the-shelf device. This allows the FPGA or ASIC to be more efficient, smaller and less expensive.

China factor

Mainland China is seen as the most important and exciting market to introduce these new chips. IDT is confident that the new FCM ICs can boost product market in the areas of data networking, telecoms, medical and graphic systems, data acquisition, and test and measurement. Network companies like ZTE, Olsen said, can utilize the FCM chips to provide QoS or packet prioritization and service differentiation. Meanwhile, wireless giants, such as Motorola, Ericsson and Nokia, could use these devices in their base stations to provide the routing of information for high-priority traffic in their networks.

"IDT realizes that there is a vast resource of technical knowledge and skills in the Asia-Pacific region," said Olsen. "We now have design teams in China and Australia and we're looking at resources throughout the Far East for the testing and manufacturing of our devices," he added. Still clawing its way out of the communications downturn, Olsen said that IDT is still experiencing flat sales. However, there are encouraging signs that an upturn in the communications market may take place. "Prominent customers that we had before, who became dormant for quite a while, are now beginning to purchase our devices once again. This is a good sign. The inventory build-up from these customers has already depleted and manufacturing is starting again," Olsen said.

- Rey Buan Jr.

Electronic Engineering Times - Asia





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