Altera’s FPGAs, PMC-Sierra’s Ethernet Devices Simply Board Design

8/26/2003 - Altera Corporation (NASDAQ: ALTR) announced interoperability between its StratixTM GX FPGAs and PMC-SierraTM, Inc’s (NASDAQ: PMCS) XENONTM family of OC-192, 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GE), and high-density GE devices — ideal for advanced metro area networking equipment such as Ethernet switches and routers. The embedded dynamic phase alignment (DPA) capability featured in Altera’s Stratix GX devices enables accelerated data transfer and frees valuable logic resources for other tasks. By leveraging the combined capabilities of the Stratix GX and XENON devices, system engineers can develop high-performance networking designs that meet specific customer requirements more rapidly and cost-effectively.

“Altera’s POS-PHY Level 4 MegaCore® function offers our customers a complete and reusable PL4/SPI 4.2 solution for multi-channel applications, where packet reassembly is a requirement,” said Jean Lamarche, director of marketing and applications, Service Provider Division at PMC-Sierra. “As we have demonstrated with the XENON family, the dynamic phase alignment featured in Altera’s Stratix GX devices greatly reduces the constraints on placement of components, as well as the layout effort required to route the 11-Gbps bus between components.”

POS-PHY Level 4 TM/System Packet Interface Level 4 Phase 2 (PL4/SPI 4.2) is a source-synchronous interface protocol used for packet or cell transfers between physical and link layer devices at 10-Gbps data rates and beyond, including 10 GE and high-density GE. Designers can also use PL4/SPI 4.2 to connect two link-layer devices such as an FPGA and a network processor. The Stratix GX device includes a fully OIF SPI 4.2-compliant POS-PHY Level 4 MegaCore logic function with embedded DPA to provide the reliability required to ease board design.

Achieving PL4/SPI4.2 Interoperability
Interoperability tests were conducted using a Tyco HM-Zd connector for Altera’s Stratix GX board and a Molex 74057-1001 connector for PMC-Sierra’s XENON board. The boards were connected via an interposer card capable of handling both connectors. Total trace lengths were 6 inches--3 inches from each device to its respective connector, and one channel length was deliberately extended to introduce approximately 0.3 UI of skew to test the Stratix GX device’s reliability and robustness across process, voltage and temperature variances. Testing was conducted using PMC-Sierra’s XENON family of devices: PM3388 S/UNI®10xGE, PM5390 S/UNI 9953, PM3392 S/UNI 1x10GE and PM3393 S/UNI 1x10GE-XP.

“PMC-Sierra authored the original POS-PHY Level 4 specification that evolved into the SPI 4.2 standard,” said Tim Colleran, Altera’s vice president of product marketing. “Demonstrating interoperability with their XENON family further validates the ability of our Stratix GX device, with its embedded data phase alignment, to support advanced telecommunication and other networking designs using the SPI 4.2 protocol.”

Embedding the DPA feature in the silicon’s source-synchronous channels, as opposed to a software approach, reduces skew and enables higher speed data transmission—up to 1 Gbps. A soft DPA implementation is slower, ties up valuable device logic resources and global clocks, and can be error-prone in the face of temperature or voltage changes.

About Stratix GX Devices
The Stratix GX family is Altera’s second-generation embedded transceiver family based on a 0.13-micron process technology with 1.5-V core voltage. Stratix GX devices have up to 20 embedded 3.125-Gbps transceivers and up to 45 differential I/O pins with dedicated DPA capability supporting up to 1-Gbps source-synchronous data transfers. For more information about the Stratix GX device family, visit

About PMC-Sierra’s XENON Ethernet Devices
PMC-Sierra’s XENON Ethernet devices meet the challenge of enabling metro area networks to provide carrier-class performance, multiple protocols and increased port densities. The XENON devices were the first integrated circuit family in the industry to use the highly optimized 10Gbps POS-PHY Level 4 (PL4) system interface to terminate traffic running over 10 GE WAN, 10 GE LAN, 10-port GE, OC-192c ATM/POS and four-channel OC 48-c ATM/POS links.

The XENON devices enable customers to quickly and easily create a family of line cards by leveraging the design re-use within the devices. The recent addition of the PM3393 S/UNI 1x10GE XP device with integrated XAUI further enhances the flexibility of the XENON family by enabling customers to create line cards with pluggable optics such as XENPAK, XPAK and X2 MSA. The XENON family includes the PM5390 S/UNI 9953, PM5392 S/UNI 9953 POS, PM3392 S/UNI 1x10 GE, PM3393 S/UNI 1x10GE XP and PM3388 S/UNI 10xGE and incorporates the industry’s strongest system expertise on PL4/SPI4.2. All devices are currently in mass production. For more information, visit

About Altera
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Altera Corporation (NASDAQ: ALTR) is the world's pioneer in system-on-a-programmable-chip (SOPC) solutions. Combining programmable logic technology with software tools, intellectual property, and technical services, Altera provides high-value programmable solutions to approximately 14,000 customers worldwide. More information is available at

About PMC-Sierra
PMC-Sierra is a leading provider of high-speed broadband communications semiconductors and MIPS-basedTM processors for Enterprise, Access, Metro Optical Transport, Storage Area Networking and Wireless network equipment that makes up the backbone of the Internet. The company offers worldwide technical and sales support, including a network of offices throughout North America, Europe and Asia. PMC-Sierra is included in the S&P 500 Index, which consists of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry group representation and in the NASDAQ-100 index (NDX), which contains the largest non-financial companies on the NASDAQ Stock Market. The company is publicly traded on the NASDAQ Stock Market under the PMCS symbol. For more information, visit

Altera, The Programmable Solutions Company, the stylized Altera logo, specific device designations and all other words that are identified as trademarks and/or service marks are, unless noted otherwise, the trademarks and service marks of Altera Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. SUNI is a registered trademark of PMC-Sierra, Inc. PMC-Sierra, PMC, PMCS, POS-PHY Level 4, Thinking you can build and XENON on are trademarks of PMC-Sierra, Inc.

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