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PCI Express Gen3 Portfolio Adds 96-, 80-, 64-Lane Switches

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A new trio of ultra-high lane count PCI Express (PCIe) Gen3 switches addresses cutting-edge markets like storage systems, high-end graphics and communications platforms. The ExpressLane PCIe Gen3 switches from PLX Technology include the PEX8796 (96 lanes, 24 ports), PEX8780 (80 lanes, 20 ports) and PEX8764 (64 lanes, 16 ports), which expand the PLX portfolio to 14 PCIe Gen3 devices. Designers choosing the PEX8796 switch—touting bandwidth of 8 Gigatransfers per second, per lane, in full duplex mode—are rewarded with throughput of 1,536 gigabits per second (192 gigabytes/s), delivering performance that challenges all other interconnect technologies.

An enhanced PLX multi-host architecture allows users to configure each device in legacy single-host mode or multi-host mode, which enables designers to build PCIe-based systems supporting high-availability, failover, redundant and clustered systems. In multi-host mode, a virtual switch is created for each host port and its associated downstream ports inside the device. The traffic between the ports of such a virtual switch is completely isolated from the traffic in other virtual switches. The devices also employ a multi-clock domain, which allows the user to terminate spread spectrum clock (SSC)-enabled domains (supported on all ports), thus removing the need to pass a common clock across a backplane.

The PLX performancePAK architecture supports packet cut-through with a maximum latency of 150ns (in a x16-to-x16 configuration). This low latency, combined with large packet memory, support for a packet payload size of up to 2048 bytes, flexible common buffer/credit pool, and a non-blocking internal switch architecture, enables a full-line rate on all ports in performance-hungry applications.

PLX’s vision PAK software provides diagnostic support, including per-port performance monitoring, capturing SerDes eye width and height, a PCIe packet generator tool, and support for error injection and loopback tests. The complementary software toolkit reduces cost by getting designs to market faster and reduces test equipment overhead.

Low latency PCIe Gen3 performance is opening new market opportunities to help manage the massive flow of data driven mostly by today’s Internet applications. Designers are creating sophisticated solid state disk (SSD) PCIe-based architectures dedicated to store and retrieve movies, music, photos and files. PEX8796, PEX8780 and PEX8764 samples are expected in Q4 2012 with full production planned for Q1 2013. Volume pricing ranges from $150 to $250. 

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