Lower power, higher performance in an embedded system. Really.

November 18, 2014 OpenSystems Media

I bet you haven’t heard this one before – one of the silicon vendors has an IC that reduces space, power, and hardware requirements in an embedded system. You have heard it before? Yeah, me too. So it generally takes a lot of convincing for me to believe those statements.

In this case, it may actually be true. PLX Technology has developed its ExpressFabric device, which the company says is already in use with some beta customers. How it works is that it adds an optical technology to places that have traditionally used copper. It takes advantage of PCIe inside the rack, rather than just externally. To me, that seems like a no-brainer and I’m surprised no one had already come up with the idea (or at least brought such a product to market).

The end result is bringing PCIe’s raw performance to the board level. In this configuration, the only time you’d need to convert to a different protocol is when your data leaves the rack. In other words, you’re using PCIe exclusively inside the rack, thereby eliminating any bridge devices. Hence, the lower cost and potentially higher performance.

To ensure compatibility, the technology can co-exist with other interconnects, like InfiniBand and Ethernet. So you still get to use your interconnect of choice if you so desire. If speed is a priority, I suggest you give this one a look.

Rich Nass, Embedded Computing Brand Director
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