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First PCI Express 3.0 Switches Start Sampling

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What appear to be the industry’s first PCI Express 3.0 (PCIe Gen 3) switches have begun to become available as samples from PLX Technology.  Each of the six new Gen 3 switches is designed to upgrade today’s widely deployed PCIe-based systems including computing and communications platforms. 

The new PLX ExpressLane PCIe Gen 3 switch family, designed on 40nm process node, includes broad lane counts ranging from 12 to 48 lanes. Board and system designers can take full advantage of the latest PCIe specification—8 Gbit/s in both directions (Tx/Rx), per lane—thus enabling one PLX 48-lane Gen 3 switch to handle an astounding 96 Gbit/s of full peer-to-peer bandwidth.  PLX’s Gen 3 switches also offer hot-plug controllers, virtual channels and a non-transparent (NT) port feature, which enable the implementation of multi-host systems in communications, storage and blade server applications. 

PLX’s new Gen 3 switch family is comprised of:

  • PEX8712: 12 lanes, 3 ports 
  • PEX8716: 16 lane, 4 ports 
  • PEX8724: 24 lane, 6 ports 
  • PEX8732: 32 lane, 12 ports 
  • PEX8747: 48 lane, 5 ports  
  • PEX8748: 48 lane, 12 ports 

PLX PCIe Gen 3 switches include software-driven on-chip hardware debug and monitoring features such as measurement of the SerDes eye inside the device; PCIe packet generation to saturate x16 Gen 3 port; injection of error in live traffic; error logging; port utilization count; as well as PCIe and traffic monitoring for easy bring-up of PCIe systems that would otherwise require days of lab set-up and hundreds of thousands of dollars in test and measurement equipment. Furthermore, PLX offers designers a software development kit that simplifies design-in of the switch and its value-added features. 

The PLX ExpressLane PCIe Gen 3 switches are available in 19x19 mm (PEX8712, PEX8716 and PEX8724) or 27x27 mm (PEX8732, PEX8747 and PEX8748) packaging. Volume pricing ranges from $40 to $80. Sampling with key customers begins this week with production slated for mid-2011. PLX Gen 3 switches are fully backward compatible to PCIe Gen 2 and Gen 1 and are recommended for all new designs. 

PLX Technology, Sunnyvale, CA. (408) 774-9060. [www.plxtech.com].