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IDT solutions to strengthen PCI Express shift

Posted: 02 May 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:interconnect technology? integrated device technology? idt? pci express? precise?

Selecting which high-speed interconnect technology will best work in a given design can be tricky. Issues surrounding interface architectures often confuse already skeptic engineers. Amid the confusion, Integrated Device Technology Inc. is shedding some light on the shift to PCI Express systems.

The company has recently introduced its Precise family of PCI Express solutions, consisting of four bridging and switching products aimed at high-performance server and storage applications.

Having the ability to perform "forward bridging," these solutions can bridge high-performance PCI Express ports to legacy peripherals. This enables designers to maintain CPU performance while leveraging existing and commoditized peripherals with legacy interfaces. Moreover, the devices can also interface between legacy north bridge ports, typically in the form of PCI-X, to newer PCI Express-based peripherals!a process called "reverse bridging."

IDT offers 3-port PCI Express switches, including 12- and 24-lane devices, and provides I/O expansion to augment north bridge devices with additional high-performance I/O connectivity. Moreover, the Precise family includes a PCI Express to PCI-X 2.0 mode 1 and mode 2 bridge and is equipped with a hardware/software development kit that includes evaluation boards, software drivers and a GUI for complete system configuration and optimization.

In addition, these switches exhibit non-transparent bridging!the ability to link two PCI Express trees in a system!at a line-rate cut-through switching capacity of 6Gbps. Each port can support x1, x2, x4 or x8 operations, with an autolink width negotiation offered on each port.

Mario Montana, director of marketing for IDT, said that alternative PCI Express bridging and switching devices have taken the form of general-purpose devices. They provide a host of features to service many applications!most of which are not necessary in today's high-performance computing and storage applications!resulting in an over-architected, expensive device.

These new PCI Express solutions have specific advantages in the Asian market, which make them ripe for their intended applications. "We're very excited in the Asian market, particularly in the volume server area, with the amount of motherboard manufacturers in Taiwan," said Matt Jones, marketing manager at IDT's serial switching division. Jones, however, did not disclose which Taiwan companies will adopt IDT's PCI Express solutions.

Keeping an eye on the progress of advanced switching interface technologies, IDT says the continuing efforts in producing PCI Express switches and bridges will be an avenue for the technology to find its place in the market.

"PCI Express is in the initial deployment phase of what we expect to be a very long life cycle," said Jones.

Jones said that the adoption of PCI Express in the communications space will be 18 to 24 months behind its adoption in the computing space. This is because I/O peripherals, as well as the CPUs themselves, gain a lot of commoditization as they get implemented in the computing system, making them more applicable in the communications space. "And because of this, we have quickly experienced the tail-end of PCI Express' life cycle. We're seeing it becoming ubiquitous across all applications!having a fully commoditized infrastructure for I/Os for all markets."

- Rey Buan Jr.

Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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