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PLX rolls Express switches and bridges

Posted: 22 Apr 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:pci express? plx technology? express switch? express-to-pci bridge? x86 server?

Jumping on the PCI Express bandwagon, PLX Technology Inc. announced two Express switches and an Express-to-PCI bridge. The company expects servers adopting the 2.5Gbps serial Express interconnect to ship this year, followed by storage networking and communications systems in 2005.

"The industry's adoption of PCI Express is exceeding our wildest plans," said Larry Chisvin, VP of marketing for PLX.

Besides pending use in mainstream X86 servers, PCs and notebooks, standards are in the works to bring Express to cabled connections, ComactPCI chassis and various daughter cards. Over the last nine months most next-generation PCI designs have targeted Express rather than the competing PCI-X 2.0 parallel interconnect, Chisvin added.

PLX will compete with companies including Intel, NEC Electronics, Texas Instruments, and startup IMC Semiconductor to build the supporting switches and bridges for Express.

The company's PEX 8532 and 8516 8- and 4-port Express switches support non-transparent switching, a way of isolating address domains to support links between multiple processors and intelligent peripherals. Some communications systems will adopt this feature rather than wait until 2005 for silicon supporting Advanced Switching (AS), a communications-specific version of Express, Chisvin said.

The PEX 8532 and 8516 switches support up to 32Gbps or 16 2.5Gbps lanes respectively of the Express interconnect. The Express lanes can be flexibly configured into any symmetric or asymmetric combinations of switch ports. The devices support two virtual channels for implementing quality-of-service.

The 8532 dissipates 6.5W, comes in a 35-by-35mm BGA and costs $100 in volume. The 8516 dissipates 3.5W and comes in a 27-by-27mm BGA and costs $50. Both parts sample in July and will be in production volumes before the end of the year. The PEX 8104 is an Express-to-PCI bridge that can link either Express host silicon to PCI/PCI-X devices or Express peripherals to traditional PCI host chips. It offers four lanes of Express, supports up to 64-bit, 133 MHz PCI-X connections and comes in a 17-by-17mm BGA that dissipates 2W maximum.

The part samples in August for less than $30 with production by the end of the year.

- Rick Merritt

EE Times

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