Avago, TI hit signal milestones

January 30, 2012 // By Rick Merritt
Avago Technologies and Texas Instruments are among the companies at DesignCon this week with new components to drive boards and cables to higher data rates over longer distances for less power and cost. They and their competitors are gearing up to enable a next-generation of systems using 100 Gbit/s Ethernet and 10+ Gbit/s interfaces.

Avago is announcing a 25 Gbit/s serdes that can support transmissions across more than a meter of a backplane and up to five meters of copper cables. It will also demonstrate a 32 Gbit/s chip, likely aimed at next-generation Fibre Channel storage networks.

Texas Instruments is rolling out a line of ten 12.5 Gbit/s signal conditioners that drive signals across copper cables over distances of up to seven meters. The components aim to replace larger, more expensive and power hungry physical layer chips.

Both companies are using the latest process technologies and signal integrity techniques to hit new milestones. They join an industry focused on responding to the need to carry ever more data over networks while keeping a lid on power and cost.

Many of the chip, board and cable companies at DesignCon aim to enable 100G Ethernet products that use four lanes running at 25 Gbits/s. The products set to ship late this year will provide reductions in cost, size and power compared to today’s 100GE systems that use ten 10 Gbit/s lanes.

“The adoption of 100GE is happening much quicker than we anticipated with the rise of things like LTE networks and iPads,” said Sanjay Gajendra, a senior product manager at Texas Instruments. “We still believe mass production [of the next-gen Ethernet products] will be at the end of the year, but a few vendors will demo prototypes earlier,” he said.

“The bandwidth needs of OEMs are going up incredibly every year,” said Frank Ostojic, general manager of Avago’s ASIC group. “25G will require a system level approach and coordinated work in a close partnership among the board, chip and package suppliers--it will be a kind of chip-set approach,” he said.

Multiple networking and telecom companies are already designing ASICs that will tape out over the next several months with Avago’s long-reach 25G serdes. The chips comply with the latest 25G standards from the Optical Internetworking Forum