Electronic Design

NetLink Controllers Bring Gigabit Ethernet To The Masses

Almost all PCs and laptops feature a built-in Ethernet port that supports 10/100-Mbit/s connections. But with corporate local-area networks (LANs) moving to 1-Gigabit Ethernet (1GE), a port upgrade is clearly needed.

While 1GE is well entrenched in enterprise LANs, Broadcom's new generation of low-cost, low-power 1GE controllers should facilitate the wide-scale adoption of 1GE technology, especially in the consumer and small/medium business (SMB) markets.

SMBs can expect more performance from their LANs, and consumers can take advantage of being able to share video, music, and games over an existing home network. This year will see the decreasing number of 10/100 Ethernet ports equal the increasing number of 1GE ports.

Broadcom's BCM5788 and BCM57-88M controllers combine a triple-speed (10/100/1000BaseT) IEEE 802.3-compliant media access controller (MAC), a 32-bit PCI 2.2 bus interface, on-chip buffer memory, and an integrated physical layer in one chip. They comply with the ACPI 1.1 low-power standard and have smart-power modes to improve power efficiency. If the Ethernet cable is unplugged, for example, the chip detects it and shuts down to save power. The "M" version is optimized for mobile applications.

The NetLink chips' proprietary algorithms maximize data-transfer speeds, producing up to three times the number of transactions per second than competing chips. This is a good fit with the database-type transfers typical in consumer and SMB applications.

The BCM5788 and BCM5788M are fully backwards-compatible with Broadcom's BCM4401 10/100 controller and the BCM5751 1GE controller. They're made with 0.13-µm CMOS and come housed in 196-pin fpBGAs. Production lots are available now. Prices can be obtained only on request.

Broadcom Corp.

TAGS: Mobile
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