New Demo Solution for PCIe Designers at Minimal Manufacturing Cost

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PLDA, Samtec demonstrate PCIe 4.0 communication over Twinax Cable, a new approach to get great bandwidth and good latency over any distance.

Cloud computing and deep learning accelerators drive faster advances in the PCIe roadmap. So, to overcome the limitations of maintaining PCIe 4.0 performance over long distances without changing the motherboard technology or using costly retimers, a new demo solution is announced by PLDA and Samtec.

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“PCIe Designers are delaying their upgrade to the next generation of PCIe because they anticipate high board manufacturing costs”, said Hugues Deneux, COO of PLDA. “With this demo, we want to show a new approach that provides great bandwidth and good latency over any distance for PCIe 4.0 communications.”

PLDA and Samtec announced a demo of their combined PCIe 4.0 solution that delivers full PCIe 4.0 bandwidth (16 GT/s) over copper or optical fiber at minimal cost. The solution is based on a PLDA PCIe 4.0 acquisition board running PLDA’s PCIe 4.0 controller IP combined with Samtec’s FireFly Micro Flyover System.

Drawbacks in existing hardware designs
Existing hardware designs cannot support the higher speed signals over the same distances. The PCIe 1.0 specification allowed signals to travel as much as 20 inches over traces in mainstream FR4 boards, even while passing through two connectors.

16 GT/s PCIe 4.0 signals stops under six inches and without going over any connectors. In today’s designs, PCIe 4.0 signals can only travel three to five inches, and it requires costly redesigns, to move MEGTRON 6 and adding a retimer for increased distance.

But the PLDA and Samtec solution demonstrates an alternate approach using optical fiber (330 feet) or Twinax Flyover Systems (10 inches) to deliver PCIe 4.0 x4 with no significant loss of bandwidth.

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Demo Overview and benefits:

  • Demo shows a system running at 16 GT/s and displaying relevant throughput and latency measurements. The demo result shows the bandwidth is not impacted by distance when using copper or optical fibers.
  • By using optical fibers, PLDA and Samtec demonstrate that PCIe 4.0 can be used for remote applications such as EMI sensitive environments.
  • Using retimers, if you can find them, could cost between $15 to $25 for 16 lanes of PCIe 4.0 at 16GT/s, plus an additional $300 for updating the motherboard PCB to MEGTRON 6. On the other hand, using passive Twinax Flyover Systems, the demo show a differentiated and affordable way to design a PCIe 4.0 platform.

“Samtec and PLDA’s multi-year PCIe 4.0 collaboration lowers barriers of entry and quickens time to market,” said Arlon Martin, Senior Marketing Director of Samtec Optical Group. “The Samtec PCIe® Optical Flyover Cable Assembly enables designers to more efficiently take advantage of the incredibly low latency and high throughput without board constraints“.

For more information or to discover how the PLDA and Samtec approach could work for your next PCIe 4.0 design:

For more information related to PLDA and Samtec’s demo solution click here.

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