SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The first boards to carry 25 Gbit/second serial signals could emerge from the factory this year, but they won’t 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 Panasonic’s 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.
“The next thing I build if it succeeds will be [a 25G system],” said Brian Nelson, a manager of new product introductions at Sanmina Corp. (San Jose, Calif.). “It’s gotten past the talk stage with a great many test vehicles, and it’s becoming real now."
Megtron-6 is “the opening gambit…but not the end game” for most of the large backplane boards in the works, said Nelson. “Meg6 has been tested by all of them, it does what it’s supposed to but it’s 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.
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Altera made a case at DesignCon for embracing Megtron-6