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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?

The external serial EEPROM/flash is used to store a set of unique identifiers and configuration information like the media access control (MAC) address, the unique identifier assigned to the network interfaces for communications on the physical network segment. Assigned to the NIC or LOM manufacturer by the IEEE, a MAC address encodes the manufacturer's registered identification number and is called the burned-in address. The MAC address can be written by the SoC manufacturerin this case, Tehuti Networksor by the NIC and LOM OEM.

As a default, Tehuti Networks writes a MAC address into the controller's 8092bit on-chip antifuse OTP NVM. To ensure that Tehuti customers may optionally write their own unique IDs, the on-chip memory includes sufficient room to store additional configurations. The memory is divided into eight separate segments of 1024 bits each. The first is optionally written by Tehuti and the remaining seven are available to their NIC and LOM customers.

As with any PCI Express device, the TN4010 components contain unique vendor and sub-vendor identifiers (VIDs and SVIDs), and device and sub-device identifiers (DIDs and SDIDs) that are written once and never changed. Thus, in addition to the MAC address, the NIC and LOM OEM may customise these identifiers to allow loading of unique software drivers.

Altogether, this device configuration data consumes no more than 256 bits in any one segment. The customer may use the additional space in a segment to store any preset register values, software configuration flags, or other system information in the design. This data is used to initialise the network sub-system to a known state. Furthermore, at any stage before shipment, the OEM can customise this configuration data up to seven times.

In addition, the TN4010 offers a lock mechanism that allows the OEM to close the NVM to any subsequent write operation, thus enabling secure applications that cannot allow modification to the pre-defined configuration.

Tehuti provides a copy-ready reference design that OEMs can use to evaluate the controller and software tools that allow the OEM to program the on-chip NVM. The Tehuti controller chip also contains the I/O pins that would allow the customer to use an optional external serial EEPROM/flash memory if they choose.

With the addition of on-chip antifuse OTP NVM, the TN4010 10GbE controller provides NIC and LOM system manufacturers with a means to reduce system cost, power demand, and package size compared to alternative offerings. This makes the TN4010 well suited for accelerating mass-market migration from 1GbE to 10GbE.

- EE Times

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