Maxim is continuing to move into the high-speed data and communications world with its release of what it claims is the world's highest-performing crosspoint-switch IC, the MAX3841. Analog switches like these help designers of high-speed communication systems perform the extensive testing and diagnostics such systems demand.
It's in this area that a company like Maxim adds value. The company's latest entry also offers flexibility, since it can function as a clock tree distribution device, a switch or a diagnostic loopback functional verification stage.
The isolated Vcc connections in the MAX3841, which use current-mode logic (CML) for inputs and outputs, are useful when used with dc-coupled interfaces to 1.8-volt, 2.5-V or 3.3-V CML ICs. The differential inputs have good sensitivity at 500 millivolts peak to peak nominally. On the output side, 150-mV peak-to-peak (min) differential output swings are characteristic.
The jitter performance is pretty good, too, at less than 10 picoseconds peak-to-peak deterministic jitter and less than 0.7-ps peak-to-peak random jitter.
On the less positive side, while Maxim's switch is useful for data path control between high-speed logic and backplane drivers or fiber-optic modules, it does not contain the higher-power backplane drivers and adaptive equalization features that some competitors offer.
Likewise, competitors offer bigger switches, although they are not yet as fast. But stay tuned. A dual 10-Gbit/s multiplexing part that aggregates to 20 Gbits/s will be released soon.