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PCIe 3.0 packs Serdes with feedback equalization

Posted: 25 Feb 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:PCIe? switch? Serdes?

PLX Technology Inc. will demo PCIe Gen 3 silicon to key customers before the end of March. The company aims to sample a range of PCIe Gen 3 switches made in 40nm process technology before the end of the year, starting with server and storage switches sampling before July.

PLX plans to deliver chips for the 8GTps specification targeting use in server and storage backplanes, cabled I/O links and computer clusters. The devices use Serdes with decision feedback equalization.

At its annual meeting in July, the PCI Special Interest Group said it will formally release the specification in June 2010. Last June, Gennum said it had working silicon cores for PCIe Gen 3 and signed up PLX as its first customer; Synopsys said it expected to ship similar cores before the end of 2009.

"Various vendors have test silicon today and are evaluating it for compliance with the specification," said Mike Krause, an interconnect specialist in Hewlett-Packard's PC server group and a long time member of the PCI SIG.

Some vendors will sample components in the second half of the year, with chips in production in early 2011. Systems using the fast interconnect will ramp in 2011 and 2012, he added.

PCIe Gen 3 initially will occupy only a relatively narrow high performance slice of the computer and communications I/O markets, said Krause. Existing 2.5GHz and 5GHz Generation 1 and 2 PCIe interconnects will be widely used in mainstream systems for some time, he said.

"The most common application [for PCIe Gen 3 chips will be high-end graphics and very high-speed network and storage devices for links such as Fibre Channel over Ethernet and iSCSI," Krause said. "Future volume technologies such as 12Gbit/s SAS/serial ATA interconnects will also benefit from 8GTps PCIe as might solid state storage solutions," he added.

PLX claimed it is shipping one million units of PCIe products per quarter and has more than 65 percent share of the PCIe switch market.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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