Electronic Design

PICMG Working On General Switch-Fabric Board Architecture

PICMG is working on a non-PCI backplane/board architecture, PICMG 3.0. It defines a board configuration designed to serve as the base for the different switch fabrics now emerging for general use—InfiniBand, StarFabric, RapidI/O, Ethernet switched backplane, and other 2.5-Gbit/s low-voltage differential-signaling (LVDS) fabrics. Completion is scheduled for the second quarter of 2002.

The new board form factor will be designed to support redundant star and full mesh backplanes, 2.5-Gbit/s LVDS signaling, and 48-V power distribution. It will use existing EuroCard IEC60297 standards and support key technologies, such as hot-swapping. Initial proposed card heights run from 6U to 8U or 9U. Additionally, the boards will be designed to support much higher power dissipation levels, perhaps as high as 150 W per board.

This standard comes at the right time. For one thing, InfiniBand has targeted server implementations and mechanicals. The new standard will provide the board/
backplane base for more robust systems for InfiniBand and other switch fabrics as they come online. Also, it will lower the cost of entry to try another switch fabric, as the underlying hardware base—board and backplane—remains the same. For details, go to www.picmg.org.

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