Krishna Mallampati, PLX Technology
EETimes (4/25/2011 12:50 PM EDT)
PCI Express (PCIe) has successfully penetrated business-focused market segments -- graphics, storage, servers, communications, and embedded systems – helped immensely by the ubiquity of PCIe interfaces on everything from high-end CPUs from Intel; GPUs from nVidia: embedded processors from Freescale, AMCC, and Cavium; and consumer products from Atheros, Marvell, Broadcom, Infineon, and Conexant.
Wi-Fi modules, set-top boxes, cable modems and home gateways now feature PCIe, and both the volume and number of product types are growing by leaps and bounds. This has helped to drive the presence of PCIe in all market segments ranging from graphics, servers, storage, communications and consumer products, to improve the ecosystem and to lower costs for customers, making it a win-win for all involved.
What has not been well known but has emerged recently is the presence of the PCIe interface on DSPs from Texas Instruments, Freescale, and LSI. In the past DSPs had either proprietary interfaces or Serial RapidIO (sRIO), but now DSPs have PCIe interface as well, offering designers more options for connectivity, and at lower price. This is especially important given the penetration of PCIe into rapidly evolving product categories, such as wireless base stations, video surveillance systems, video communications, medical and biological imaging, home A/V equipment, and digital video recorder/network video (DVR/NVR) boxes – all markets that continue to be bastions of DSPs.
This article will look at this development with examples of usage models and how it benefits the DSP makers, designers and end users - the entire ecosystem. This article will also look at the options designers have in PCIe interconnect and help them maximize both performance and power efficiency of DSP designs. Additionally, it will illustrate how that efficiency is achieved by taking advantage of PCIe switches’ flexible ports and lanes, small packages and unique ability to fan out to a number of endpoints.
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