Electronic Design

PLX Pushes PCI Express

PLX was busy at the show with some PCI-to-PCI Express bridging examples, such as a video-streaming system that used PLX chips. PCI Express was a hot item at the show given its use in XMC modules and switched backplanes. I took a closer look at other vendors’ boards to see what PCI Express chips were used because they tend to hawk their own boards, not the components.

PLX was showing off some of their latest chips announced at the end of the 2005, just before the Bus and Board show. These include the PEX 8518 five-port, 16-lane PCIe switch; the ExpressLane PEX 8114 PCI Express-to-PCI-X bridge; and the PEX 8311 PCI Express-to-local bus bridge.

The PEX 8518 five-port, 16-lane PCIe switch comes in a tiny 23 mm by 23 mm PBGA chip. It has non-transparent port capability and allows peer-to-peer data transfers. Each port supports two virtual channels, and can be configured to handle up to an x8 connection for a total of 16 lanes. It implements a non-blocking switch fabric.

The ExpressLane PEX 8114 4-lane PCI Express-to-PCI-X bridge comes in a 17 mm by 17 mm package. It draws only 2 W max. It also supports non-transparent, forward, and reverse bridging. It handles systems up to 133-MHz PCI-X.

The PEX 8311 x1-lane PCI Express-to-local bus bridge is an interesting chip that is ideal for linking to peripherals that do not have a PCI interface. It comes in a 21 mm by 21 mm PBGA chip that comes 1 W max. It includes root complex and end-point support. It handles a local bus that operates at speeds up to 66 MHz and bus widths from 8- to 32-bits. It even handles endian translation. The zero-wait-state operation handles burst rates up to 264 Mbytes/s with read-ahead and prefetch support and a maximum payload of 128 bytes. There are two DMA channels built into the chip and these can handle demand mode, and block and scatter/gather transfer modes. The 8311 has 8 mailbox registers plus a pair of doorbell registers. There are also four GPIO pins.

PLX talked to me about some new PCI Express chips, but you will have to wait to see them in the print version of Electronic Design.

Read more: Mellanox Pushes The Limit With InfiniBand

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