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RapidIO to overtake PCI Express in data centres

Posted: 19 Jul 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:interconnect? RapidIO? PCI Express?

RapidIO is poised to leap from wireless base stations to datacenters as an enabler of everything from greener supercomputers to ARM-based microservers. The effort could fuel the move into datacenter systems for ARM-based SoCs, many of which use or plan to adopt RapidIO.

The trade group behind the interconnect is working on server and switch reference designs it will submit to Facebook's Open Compute Project. Separately, two RapidIO-based supercomputers are already in the works. The designs will use the interconnect in ways that replace PCI Express, Infiniband, Ethernet, and proprietary fabrics used to link chips, boards, and systems in computers and switches.

Freescale, IDT, IP provider Mobiveil, and system maker Prodrive helped start the datacenter and networking task group inside the RapidIO Trade Association. It aims to have its server and switch reference designs in a prototype stage before the end of the year.

The effort begins less than three months before backers plan to launch a third-generation of RapidIO. The so-called 10XN version supports up to 16 lanes at 10 Gbit/second each, up from 6.25 Gbits per lane today.

Intel's x86 processors currently dominate datacenter systems. They increasingly integrate PCIe and come with companion chips based on Ethernet.

By contrast, RapidIO is already used in most 3G and LTE basestations today. It is typically integrated in ARM-based SoCs from companies such as Cavium, Freescale, Texas Instruments, and others who are looking to move their chips into ARM-based servers and switches.

"Microservers are just general-purpose versions of embedded computers," Devashish Paul, a spokesman for the RapidIO trade group and a senior product manager for RapidIO switch chips at IDT, said.

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