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Smallest transceiver saves big in power

Posted: 18 Oct 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:transceiver? xignal technologies ag? xt38720? cmos xfi transceiver?

Power consumption efforts in the communications arena may undergo significant improvements with the introduction of what appears to be the smallest transceiver in the market. Developed and released recently by Xignal Technologies AG, the XT38720 is a 10Gbps CMOS XFI transceiver that currently has the smallest active foot print area of 4mm? and expends ultra low-power consumption of only 350mW. With its size and power advantages, the new XFI-compliant transceiver helps trim down cost and improve data transmission performance in local-, metro- and wide-area networks.

The Munich-based IP solutions provider developed the XT38720 using 0.13?m CMOS process technology and has an on-chip clean-up PLL that only needs a simple external RC filter to be connected to the device. The transceiver also has a selectable pre-emphasis that ensures optimum signal integrity over FR-4 grade PCB material and is suitable for data rates from 9.95Gbps to 10.7Gbps.

CMOS advocate

Xignal's ability to provide devices in 0.13?m CMOS processthat normally requires bipolar, if not GaAs or SiGe--has been doing great things for them for the past years. With current issues surrounding the shrinking process, Holger Hoeltke, VP for marketing at Xignal, is positive that the 130nm-vs.-90nm process debate will not have any significant effect on Xignal's product development.

"Analog design doesn't really benefit from the shrinking process," said Hoeltke. "Xignal has been keen in using 0.13?m CMOS process technology to almost all of its products because it addresses certain markets such as the multigigabit copper link segment. And in this market, the gate length of CMOS at 0.13?m becomes pretty handy," he added.

Moreover, it is difficult to fold the shrinking process in analog design. Better frequency comes from smaller gate sizes. However, the difficulty arises not from the shorter gate length, nor from the entire density, but on the leakage current that comes from the lower supply voltage that is imposed to the SNR. "There may be a need for analog in even smaller feature size process technology. Designers should be prepared as designs become more difficult, and system providers should rethink about the partitioning of systems."

With its size, power saving feature and CMOS nature, the XT38720 can be integrated in SoC environments appropriate for 10Gbps over copper connections, 10Gb Ethernet and 10Gb Fiber Channel applications.

The XT38720 has the ability to serialize and deserialize 32 input-data streams to a single output-data stream, and vice versa. The high-speed serial I/Os are compliant to the XFI defined in the 10Gb Small Form Pluggable (XFP) module specifications. The product--having an integrated limiting amplifiercan also be used as a standard serial 10Gbps fiber optic interface with the help of a signal conditioner IC.

"Reducing the device's size definitely helped in reducing cost," said Hoeltke. "Moreover, going to small modules means you have to have low power ICs. Since the XT38720 consumes low power, it significantly reduces design constraints and thus increases the device's port density," Hoeltke added.

As mobile communication devices continue to evolve, more high-speed broadband systems will be in need of high-performance devices that would help minimize chip-to-chip interface issues. Moreover, these demands would continue to require additional power requirements on the overall system that could potentially cause an increase in the device size. However, big and bulky systems may not be really a popular menu for today's customers, as they are constantly demanding for devices that have smaller and smaller form factors.

- Rey Buan Jr.

Electronic Engineering Times- Asia

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