Electronic Design

Faster InfiniBand, Hard Disks, And Much More

The mailbag is overflowing and the interviews are booked solid, but some products have shot to the top of the stack.

Mellanox continues to push InfiniBand where other fabrics have yet to tread. Already at the top of the game, the new double-data-rate (DDR) implementations double x1 link throughput to 5 Gbits/s. Mellanox released a complete set of DDR chips, including the InfiniScale III 24-port x4 switch, with almost 1-Tbit/s bandwidth at less than $25/port (Fig. 1).

The chips are pin-compatible with their earlier counterparts. Autonegotiation enables them to work with their older siblings. Adapter ports cost under $85, making InfiniBand systems smaller, faster, and cheaper than any of the alternative technologies like Ethernet and Serial RapidIO.

MORE DISKS
Smaller, faster, and higher capacity also are watchwords for Seagate's latest set of announcements. The Barracuda 7200.9 supports the new SATA II 3-Gbit/s interface, and the 500-Gbyte version costs just under $1/Gbyte (Fig. 2). On the portable side, Seagate announced a 120-Gbyte Portable External Drive for only $249 and a $280 8-Gbyte compact flash drive.

We will have to wait a little bit for some of the more interesting technologies from Seagate, though. These include the Momentus FDE encrypted hard disk, which targets portable applications, and Momentus 5400.3, with its perpendicular recording that promises at least a 25% capacity increase. More details on these drives will be released at the end of the year.

Embedded designers will be interested in the EE25 series, which is designed for automotive applications. The EE25 drives have a wider temperature operating range, and they incorporate disk-protection technologies like those found in Seagate's mobile hard drives.

BETTER VIEWS
Designers using Altium's pc-board and system design products will find some integration improvements in Altium Designer 2004 as well as some new viewing tools. This application suite can generate SmartPDFs that are essentially Adobe Acrobat files with hot links between items in pc-board and logic drawings. Any PDF viewer can be used, although linking is still a bit crude.

The free Designer Viewer provides a better and more functional viewing system, but it uses the actual Designer files instead of the PDF format. The viewers let users examine designs without requiring an Altium Designer license.

MORE PCI EXPRESS
PCI Express (PCIe) continues to expand in popularity and in standards. The PCIe 2.0 standard doubles the link bandwidth to 5 Gbits/s. Also, check out the details of the new PCIe ExpressModule form factor. (Watch for my Leapfrog: First Look story on the ExpressModule in our Aug. 4 issue.) Keep an eye out for more info on the PCIe Wireless Form Factor (WFF), too. This module is thinner than the Mini CEM form factor used for modems and network interfaces.

NEED MORE INFORMATION?
Altium
www.altium.com

Mellanox
www.mellanox.com

PCI-SIG
www.pci-sig.org

Seagate
www.seagate.com
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