SAN JOSE, Calif. Pericom Semiconductor Corp. is launching two switches it claims are the first devices supporting the second generation PCI Express specification that runs at data rates up to 5 GHz. The news comes as the PCI Special Interest Group (PCI SIG) convenes its annual meeting here.
The PCI SIG has yet to put in place a compliance program for the Express 2.0 spec. However, Pericom said the new chips pass its internal tests, are available for production and have already been designed in to a workstation from a tier one OEM.
With its early time-to-market, Pericom hopes to give OEMs an option of adding fast Express capabilities to systems even before chip makers put 5 GHz Express into their chip sets. Intel is expected to start shipping at least some chip sets with Express 2.0 before the end of the year.
"We see the transition to PCIe Gen2 moving ahead quickly in high-end workstations, servers and storage systems at both our Tier 1 and other customers," said Shaf Rahman, Pericom's senior director of switch and interface marketing, in a prepared statement. "Our signal switches provide flexible mapping of multiple [existing 2.5 GHz] PCI Express network ports or CPU root complex lanes to multiple internal slot connectors," he added.
Specifically, notebook and desktop makers could use four of Pericom's new PI2PCIE2412 switches to expand an existing chip set supporting 16 lanes of 2.5 GHz Express. The switches could support a 16-lane and an eight-lane Express slot running off the chip set, allowing OEMs to put two fast graphics chips on a gaming system that might ordinarily support only one.
The same switch, in combination with a Pericom 2422 bypass switch, could be used to map multiple external graphics ports to a single Express chip set for high-end workstations. The chip sets support both the existing 2.5 Gbit/second Express 1.1 version as well as the 5 Gbit/s 2.0 version.
The switches can also be used to support a variety of storage and high-end networking functions in servers and workstations.
Both the new switches support a 2:1 multiplexing capability to support four differential channels or two PCI Express lanes. They come in a 42-pad TQFP package measuring 3.5mm x 9mm and run at 1.8V. They support average bandwidth of 4 Gbits/s after deducting protocol overhead.
The 2412 costs $1.50 and the 2422 costs $1.85 in 10,000-unit volumes.