SAN MATEO, Calif.-Xilinx Inc. has proposed a new point-to-point serial link protocol dubbed Aurora for use in high-speed networking gear, HDTV broadcast systems, blade servers and storage subsystems.
The link layer protocol resides just above the physical layer, and works as an interface to either proprietary upper-layer protocols or industry-standard protocols like TCP/IP and Ethernet.
Intended for high-speed serial links, it can scale from 622 Mbits/second to 3.125 Gbits/s. As many as 16 channels can be aggregated for a baud rate of 50 Gbits/s and a maximum data transfer rate of 40 Gbits/s full-duplex, according to the company.
Xilinx plans to demonstrate the technology Wednesday (April 17) at its Programmable World 2002 conference and will submit the protocol to standards groups such as the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group.
"Our intention is to incorporate feedback and recommendations and present this as a standard," said Per Holmberg, senior product marketing manager for IP solutions at Xilinx (San Jose, Calif.).
Eye on backplanes
The protocol can be used for connections between chips, boards and boxes, though it's primary aim is to replace 1,000 Base T connections used in backplanes. Xilinx says that moving to a serial interface is cheaper, less power-hungry and offers more data rate options than 1,000 Base T. Using a serial interface with Aurora, "you could go to 3.125 gigabits per second over two pairs versus four pairs and have more granularity in the bandwidth," said Kent Dahlgren, technical staff member for Xilinx's advanced product division.
As such, Aurora is not a threat to interface standards like 3GIO and Rapid I/O, which use symbol encoding in their link layer handshakes that isn't supported by Aurora. "This really targets moving IP or TPP frames or Ethernet frames between two boards," Dahlgren said. "There aren't many PHY and link layers specifically targeted for backplane applications."
Xilinx hopes the protocol will spark interest in its latest Virtex-2 Pro field-programmable gate array, which sports 3.125-Gbit/s serial links and embedded PowerPC processors. The link layer will take up about 780 to 900 logic cells and will eventually be incorporated into the company's IP core library.