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10GbE controller more flexible with on-chip memory

Posted: 14 Mar 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:EEPROM? Ethernet? PCI Express? NVM? OTP?

As the movement towards cloud-based computing grows thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, network bandwidth will continue to increase. The portion of network infrastructure currently running gigabit Ethernet (1GbE) is beginning the migration towards ten gigabit Ethernet (10GbE).

Tehuti Networks is accelerating the transition with a 10GbE controller, the TN4010, targeted at network interface card (NIC) and LAN on motherboard (LOM) customers. A highly integrated solution that eliminates external serial EEPROM/flash memory from the bill of materials (BOM), the TN4010 integrates memory on-chip in the form of anti-fuse, one-time programmable (OTP) non-volatile memory (NVM; see figure 1). Because making a bit-for-bit substitution would not deliver the expected flexibility, meeting the desired performance, cost, and schedule targets required the project take an integrated design approach.

TN4010 10GbE controller

TN4010 10GbE controller: Includes an on-chip, 8-kb one-time programmable non-volatile memory (OTP NVM) from Kilopass Technology.

The reduction in components is significant to NIC and LOM customers for a number of reasons. The most obvious is cost. The Tehuti OEM reduces BOM by the price of the external serial EEPROM/flash memory. Considered in the context of full operational cost, however, the approach provides much more significant savings. It eliminates the need to qualify external memory components, vendors, and second sources. It removes the overhead of purchase orders and invoices, and mitigates the risk of incorrect forecasting. It simplifies inventory management and dealing with shortages and allocations. It also cuts the production costs associated with placing the component on the board, as well as testing and rework. These savings go directly to the customer's bottom line.

The other benefit to the customer is enhanced quality. Cutting the component count reduces the defect per million since system quality and reliability is inversely related to component count.

Integrating memory with controller

Adding memory to the TN4010 was not as simple as integrating the OTP NVM into the controller chip since customers have expectations of being able to revise the contents without restriction. A bit-for-bit replacement would not have met this expectation. What made the trade-off possible? The answer lies in the contents of the external EEPROM/flash memory and how it is written and accessed.

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