PLX Technology Inc. has been developing leading I/O interconnect silicon and software since 1994. Many associate PLX Technology with PCI Express switches and bridges, but they also manufacture USB controllers, legacy PCI bridges, and consumer storage controllers. Their PCI Express switches and bridges are a common component on server motherboards and other products, and they have a commanding 70 percent market share in this field.
PLX has provided the catalyst for explosive PCI Express technology advancements. They sampled the first PCIe switch in 2004, and their first PCIe Bridge followed soon after. By 2007, they had shipped over 1 million PCIe chips, and have now evolved into a company that churns out over a million units per quarter and has sold 100 million ports.
PLX Technology is developing PCIe Gen4, but also qualifying the ExpressFabric converged fabric. The advent of hyperscale and cloud computing has spurred a re-imagination of datacenter architecture. Disruptive technologies and Open Compute initiatives are challenging the old way of thinking and delivering designs purpose-built for optimum efficiency. The emergence of software-defined datacenters (SDDC) and software-designed storage (SDS) requires new designs that allow total control of resource allocation.
Today's datacenter rack is inherently inefficient. Each server has its own CPU, DRAM, networking, and storage equipment. External shared storage is connected via HBAs and HCAs utilizing switches and interconnects. Network access is achieved using a similar method. Each server has its own LOM or NIC connection to the datacenter network.
Each individual server is essentially its own fully functioning ecosystem, but this is not an efficient design.
A new holistic approach is required that leverages the benefits of each subsystem independently. Let's take a look at a short video that explains PLX Technology's ExpressFabric concept, and then take a closer look at the details of ExpressFabric.