SANTA CLARA, Calif. Ė The first boards to carry 25 Gbit/second serial signals could emerge from the factory this year, but they wonít be easy or inexpensive, said a contract manufacturing executive in an interview on the DesignCon show floor. New board materials are expected to be a key enabler with Panasonicís Megtron-6 the flavor of the day, at least for initial products.
The struggles to deliver 25G links for 100 Gbit/s Ethernet core routers and switches and other high-end systems was the focus of many papers and panels at the event both this year and in 2012.
ďThe next thing I build if it succeeds will be [a 25G system],Ē said Brian Nelson, a manager of new product introductions at Sanmina Corp. (San Jose, Calif.). ďItís gotten past the talk stage with a great many test vehicles, and itís becoming real now."
Megtron-6 is ďthe opening gambitÖbut not the end gameĒ for most of the large backplane boards in the works, said Nelson. ďMeg6 has been tested by all of them, it does what itís supposed to but itís relatively expensive."
Prices vary widely with some sources saying the Panasonic materials costs seven times as much as more commonly used lead-free FR4 materials. Others say the costs can be two to three times that of FR4 or less.
The costs are still far below so-called Teflon-based materials (aka polytetrafluoroethylene) that can range from 15 to 20 times the costs of FR4. The cost of moving to optical connections likely is even higher.
Click on image to enlarge.
Altera made a case at DesignCon for embracing Megtron-6