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RapidIO steps into data plane

Posted: 02 Sep 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:rapidio trade association? packet-switched interconnect? backplane? pmc-sierra? communication?

The RapidIO Trade Association has finished two specifications considered key for using the packet-switched interconnect technology in data plane applications for communications systems. In addition, the group has a new executive director-Iain Scott, formerly a VP for Mosaid Technologies Inc. and has added two new members, PMC-Sierra and AMCC.

RapidIO is a chip-to-chip and backplane interconnect that is currently used primarily on Motorola Inc. communications processors, but is supported on a variety of DSPs and by other chipmakers as well. It competes most directly with Advanced Switching, a communications interconnect based on PCI Express that was developed by Intel Corp. and others as a replacement for PCI.

The RapidIO group said today it has completed work on a multicasting feature and an encapsulation capability for data streaming. The two specs are part of RapidFabric, an umbrella term for a variety of RapidIO functions for data plane applications. Previously, RapidIO was mainly focused on control plane applications.

The data-streaming capability handles payloads of up to 64KB with hardware-based segmentation and reassembly. The facility can support hundreds of classes of services and millions of unique data streams. The multicasting capability allows switches to automatically replicate data traffic at a silicon switch based on a multicast device ID.

The group expects to finish a set of carrier-grade streaming capabilities in 2005 that will become part of the data-streaming features of RapidFabric. Last year, the group rolled out a flow control capability that was the first plank of RapidFabric.

All the specs are now available to RapidIO members and could appear in products starting next year, said Greg Shippen, chairman of the RapidIO technical working group.

The competing PCI Express interconnect already has some multicasting and data encapsulation capabilities. The Advanced Switching group is working to deliver a version of the technology without some of the computer-centric baggage of Express.

Separately, PMC-Sierra Inc. has become a steering-committee member of RapidIO, and said it hopes to use the technology in backplane products and to become more involved in discussions on the next-generation RapidIO physical layer. PMC-Sierra said it will continue to support HyperTransport as a chip-to-chip interconnect on its communications processors.

Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (AMCC) has also joined, following the company's purchase earlier this year of the PowerPC 400 series product line from IBM Corp.

- Rick Merritt

EE Times

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