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PCIe switch line is on the move

Posted: 02 Apr 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:PCIe switches? serial interconnect? Serdes?

PLX Technology Inc. has rolled out three chips that expand its line of PCIe switches to 13 devices. The move is an indication of the growing uptake of PCIe, a 2.5Gbps serial interconnect developed as a successor to parallel PCI.

PLX has shipped more than 100,000 Express switches and bridges, said Akber Kazmi, the company's product-marketing director.

"The market is moving to PCIe and it is growing fast," he said. "We have production volumes of our first- and second-generation parts ramping now, and will ramp these third-generation parts in 2H," said Kazmi.

The devices include the PEX 8547, a switch for graphics applications supporting up to three ports with 16 channels each. It supports latencies as low as 110ns on x16 links.

The PEX 8525 and PEX 8533 are five- and six-port chips, primarily used to fan out Express slots in servers. They support up to 24 and 32 total lanes of Express, respectively, with latencies as low as 115ns on x8 lanes. The chips are also geared for storage, communications and other embedded systems.

All of them carry features first introduced with the company's high-end PEX 8548, which was announced in late 2006. Among those features are support for hot-plugging cards in the switched slots as well as full peer-to-peer communications for switched devices without needing to go through a host CPU.

The switches support a flexible buffer-allocation scheme that prevents head-of-line blocking, ensuring traffic can move at full Express line rates. Engineers can also assign specific priority levels to specific ports to ensure QoS.

The chips consume an average of 100mW per Express lane. The power can be further reduced through an on-chip programmable Serdes that can be turned off when it's not in use. All the chips are made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in a 130nm process.

Switches fan out server I/O and serve a configurable bumber of x4 and x8 Express slots.

The three switches are now available in production volumes. Volume pricing is $35 each for the PEX 8525, $45 for the PEX 8533 and $55 for the PEX 8547.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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