4/20/2004 - PLX Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: PLXT), the leading supplier of standard I/O interconnect silicon to the communications, server, storage and embedded-control industries, announced the PLX® PEX line of PCI ExpressTM bridges and switches, the industry's most complete and flexible line of interconnect chips based on PCI Express technology. The new PEX bridging and switching devices provide system and board manufacturers with a complimentary set of essential interconnect building blocks - a typical PCI Express-based system will incorporate both types of devices - for next-generation applications.
The devices will sample in Q3, and PLX customers already are in development with their products using the PEX line.
This new PEX chip family from PLX, which has championed PCI Express technology since its inception and is among the first to announce interconnect silicon based on the architecture, delivers an array of unique features available from no other silicon vendor. The PEX 8104 PCI Express-to-PCI/PCI-X bridge, the most versatile bridging device in its class, is capable of forward, reverse and non-transparent bridging, and features 1-gigabyte-per-second (GBps) throughput - all in a 17x17mm BGA package and drawing less than two watts of power. The PEX line also includes two powerful new PCI Express switching devices: the PEX 8516 and PEX 8532, with the unprecedented flexibility provided by up to eight completely configurable ports, on-chip non-transparency for multiprocessor designs, two virtual channels, and both peer-to-peer and fan-out capability, which are ideal for new high-performance systems ranging from high-speed I/O boards to complex backplane designs.
Forward, Reverse Bridging in One Small, Low-Power Package
The versatile new PLX PEX 8104 PCI Express-to-PCI/PCI-X device bridges PCI Express components to conventional PCI/PCI-X chips and subsystems. In forward mode, the PEX 8104 allows legacy PCI or PCI-X chips and adapters to be used with new PCI Express systems.
The PEX 8104 can also operate in reverse bridging mode, a feature which PLX has pioneered in the PCI Express architecture, enabling the ever-expanding number of native-mode PCI Express chips to bridge back to the PCI-X infrastructure. Reverse bridging allows conventional PCI or PCI-X processors and chipsets to configure and control advanced PCI Express switches and endpoints.
The PEX 8104 features a four-lane PCI Express port with integrated 2.5GBps SerDes. The device supports the advanced PCI-X protocol - at 64-bit, 133 MHz operation -- but also provides full bus-backward compatibility with 32- and 64-bit PCI boards and systems, which helps preserve investment in and extend the life of legacy PCI/PCI-X designs.
While the PEX 8104 bridge provides significant performance-enhancing features, it also was designed with power and space constrained applications in mind. The 17x17mm standard BGA footprint is ideal for a wide range of adapter designs, from standard I/O cards to mezzanine and daughter boards to ExpressCardTM applications. Additionally, with a maximum power consumption less than two watts, no heat sink or special airflow is required, making it highly suitable for environments with tight thermal restrictions. Furthermore, the small size and power characteristics allow the PEX 8104 to be easily accommodated in motherboard and backplane designs based on PCI Express technology.
Industry's Only PCI Express Switches with Fully Configurable Ports, Two Virtual Channels
The PEX 8516 (16 lanes) and PEX 8532 (32 lanes) are the industry's only PCI Express switches with completely configurable ports - eight and four, respectively - and were designed for use in new high-performance systems ranging from high-speed I/O boards to complex switch-fabric or back-plane designs. Any port can be configured as either upstream or downstream through hardware strapping, software configuration or an optional EEPROM. Either device can be used in fan-out or peer-to-peer switching applications, providing a designer with unmatched flexibility in utilizing each lane and port.
The PEX 8516 and PEX 8532 also are the only PCI Express devices available to support mapping of eight traffic classes on two virtual channels for each port, allowing the implementation of quality of service for blade server, storage, communications, and multimedia applications. Each device's peer-to-peer-transfer feature frees the system bandwidth that otherwise would be required by the host to orchestrate or manage data transfers between I/Os. The PEX 8516 and PEX 8532 also support non-transparent port functions, allowing the isolation of two CPU or memory domains and enabling the use of PCI Express technology in multi-host environments and high-availability applications. PLX introduced non-transparency to the PCI Express architecture and is the first to implement it.
Both switching devices are designed for the most demanding high-reliability applications, such as servers and storage, by offering both link and end-to-end CRC capability. Though the end-to-end CRC feature is optional in the PCI Express specification, PLX has decided to include it in its entire PEX product line. Additionally, the devices feature advanced error detection and correction capabilities that ease system development and debug, as well as a non-blocking architecture that improves real-world quality of service and efficient throughput.
Market Experts Envision Success
The PLX PEX family's unique feature set and focus on strategic applications align with what industry experts predict will be key to the PCI Express architecture's commercial success. Market research firm In-Stat/MDR in a recent report stated that increased performance and quality-of-service guarantees would lead to rapid adoption of PCI Express technology. Additionally, the Linley Group conducted a poll in which 79 percent of respondents asked to assess serial interconnect technologies for networking applications selected the PCI Express architecture.
"PCI Express technology is getting further market and interconnect validation in communications, storage and computing applications from new OEM vendor customers and new design wins," said Paul Zorfass, senior analyst with International Data Corp./First Technology Inc. "By announcing early support for PCI Express, then embarking on an aggressive development effort, PLX has solidified its leadership role in championing the PCI Express standard industry-wide and, now, by bringing to market a powerful, versatile and flexible line of PCI Express chips."
Development Tools Streamline Design
To aid system and board designers in streamlining their product development and bring their designs to market faster, PLX is expanding its Reference Development Kit (RDK) and Software Development Kit (SDK) family to include design tools for the PEX 8104, PEX 8516 and PEX 8532 PCI Express devices.
The PLX PEX 8104, PEX 8516 and PEX 8532 PCI Express devices will sample in early Q3 of 2004. The PEX 8104, in a 256-ball PBGA package, is priced under $30 in volume. The PEX 8516 in 27x27mm 680-pin HSBGA package and PEX 8532 in 35x35mm 312-pin HSBGA package, are priced under $50 and $100 in volume, respectively.
For more information on PEX 8104, PEX 8516 and PEX 8532, contact PLX Technology at 800.759.3735.
About PLX Technology
PLX Technology, Inc. (www.plxtech.com), based in Sunnyvale, Calif., USA, is the leading supplier of standard I/O interconnect silicon to the communications, server, storage and embedded-control industries. PLX has been developing I/O interconnect solutions since 1986. The PLX solution provides a competitive edge to our customers through an integrated combination of high-performance silicon, hardware and software design tools, and partnerships. These innovative solutions enable our customers to develop equipment with industry-leading performance, scalability and reliability. Furthermore, the combination of PLX product features and supporting infrastructure allow customers to bring their designs to market faster. PLX PCI-based devices are designed into a wide variety of applications across multiple industries.
PLX is a trademark of PLX Technology, Inc., which may be registered in some jurisdictions.
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