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Industry sees promising market for sRIO

Posted: 01 Jul 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:srio? rapidio?

While the parallel version of RapidIO has almost been the standard in most backplane designs, the serial version is relatively new in the design community. However, the increase in performance of embedded communication processors and DSPs has resulted in a demand for improved system interconnects to achieve gigabit link speeds. This increased bandwidth has pushed the evolution from parallel multidrop buses to switch fabric-based architectures like the serial RapidIO.

Serial RapidIO has become a popular protocol among DSP vendors in wireless infrastructure applications because of its high bandwidth per pin, offload packet termination and data manipulation, and more integrated function-specific products. Despite questions of reliability and adaptability in the networking realm, Integrated Device Technologies Inc. is focused on developing product lines for the said high-speed interconnect, which complements its existing efforts in PCI Express and advanced switching interfaces.

"Our strategy is to leverage appropriate standards for the application and to implement specific devices optimized to those needs," said Mario Montana, marketing director at IDT. "The inclusion of sRIO switches within a wireless base station application provides cost-effective, high-performance data transfers among the DSPs on each card via sRIO ports," he said. "The addition of an appropriate bridge allows for backplane flexibility."

Serial RapidIO solves problems associated with the limitations of parallel buses in the network's control path. Compared to the PCI architecture, it provides link bandwidth and a high degree of peer-to-peer interconnect, and consumes only four pins on the backplane, allowing an efficient and reliable interconnect.

Wireless base stations are heavily dependent on DSP clusters for baseband processing, and IDT predicts that this dependency will continue to increase over time.

Clearly, sRIO has a strong value proposition in high-performance embedded applications. "The RapidIO ecosystem, in which Tundra Semiconductor plays a significant role, is getting stronger," said John Hartley, Tundra's managing director in Asia-Pacific. "This is also the reason why key embedded market suppliers and customers are active in the RapidIO Trade Association."

Serial Rapid IO is being adopted in the networking space, driven by many technical and business factors. "OEMs are increasingly leveraging standards-based solutions as new platforms are being architected, and RapidIO has the right ecosystem and technical performance for evolving applications," said Hartley.

Tundra recently launched its Tsi564A. With a smaller footprint than the early Tsi568A, the Tsi564A offers low power, multiport widths and speed configurations, making it suitable for applications where power, cost and board space are primary concerns. This switch interconnects sRIO-enabled processors and peripheral devices, supporting an aggregate bandwidth of 40Gbps.

The market demand for sRIO, as related to board-level chip interconnectivity, is very strong, said IDT's Montana. "In fact, according to data generated by Crystal Cube Consulting, market growth for sRIO chip interconnectivity is expected to reach over $800 million by 2008," he added.

Jag Bolaria, senior analyst at the Linley Group also said that given the many product announcements this year, the RapidIO interconnect standard is set to enjoy significant acceptance in 2005 from leading players in the embedded marketplace.

Both IDT and Tundra have no plans yet to develop backplane products supporting the RapidFabric standard.

- Rey Buan Jr.

Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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