COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. RapidIO could hold a revenue and port-shipment advantage over the PCI Express Advanced Switching standard lasting through the end of the decade, suggests a new report from market researchers Metz International.
In fact, the report by Metz consultant Ernie Bergstrom, suggests that RIO revenues in 2007 could be more than double that of PCI Express AS.
RapidIO, promoted by Motorola Inc. and key partners, has been perceived as a dark horse against the Intel Corp. PCI Express juggernaut. This is so despite the parallel and serial implementations of the standard being finished prior to the Advanced Switching adjunct to PCI Express.
The Metz report therefore runs counter to conventional wisdom, and holds particular relevance because the market firm founded by John Metz is perceived as not being part of the Intel or Motorola “camps.”
The report also considers some serial interconnect standards used primarily for in trasystem links such as Hyper Transport and PCI-X. Other standards like Infiniband were not considered because their market momentum is weaker.
Metz reported that near-term shipments are dominated by Hyper Transport because it is used in the Xbox, where 12 million ports have been shipped, and in several Catalyst switches from Cisco Systems Inc.
Longer term, interconnect for both intrabox and box-to-box links will be dominated by Serial RapidIO and PCI Express, particularly the AS extension to PCI Express. Bergstrom said RapidIO holds some minor technical advantages in high-end peer-to-peer communications, but much of its mid-term market advantage will be tied to its advantage of having interface chips from Tundra Semiconductor and other vendors ready to ship within the next two years.
“If you listen to Intel, PCI Express AS will start strong within a year, and you can be certain that Intel will throw a lot of money at the problem,” Bergstrom said. “But the standard really needs to move out of [I ntel's] Arapahoe working group and into PCI-SIG to gain credibility, and its current draft needs to be more stable.”
By the end of the decade, AS and Serial RapidIO will be in tight competition for end applications such as server clusters and medium-density network edge devices. In some applications, such as voice-over-Internet-protocol gateways, AS will offer cost and performance advantges over RapidIO, while the latter RIO standard will dominate in high-density network aggregation systems.
An executive summary of the report is available at the Metz Web site.