PLX Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: PLXT), a leading global supplier of high-speed connectivity solutions enabling emerging data center architectures, today announced a live demonstration of its ExpressFabric technology at the SC12 supercomputing conference this week in Salt Lake City, UT. ExpressFabric is a PLX-initiated approach to extending the PCI Express (PCIe) standard from its current dominant presence inside servers, switches and storage appliances, to a central position as a fabric, uniting all hardware within the racks of data centers.
"Small to medium sized clusters -- for example, those with 20 to 1,000 CPU nodes, on one to eight racks -- are best suited for ExpressFabric technology," said Vijay Meduri, PLX vice president of engineering. "For applications that use clusters of that size, or are capable of using disaggregated clusters, ExpressFabric technology allows for complete elimination of bridges and other protocol fabrics to create the mini-clusters. The PCIe convergence model and ongoing software development that is being implemented is designed to be compatible and will co-exist with Ethernet, InfiniBand and other fabrics in the data center."
A PCIe-based ExpressFabric offers the ability to combine different data types in a single converged pathway. ExpressFabric enables efficient convergence in several ways: All devices and subsystems offer native PCIe, thus allowing immediate use of an existing infrastructure, whereas any other approach adds bridging devices that inherently increase latency, cost and power. In addition, the data -- compute, communication or storage -- is created and consumed as PCIe on each of the slots in the rack, so it is efficient from both an architectural and software point of view to send it across the fabric in this form.
In order to enable development of platforms based on the ExpressFabric solution, PLX is creating a development tool ecosystem, including its ExpressNIC (a PCIe-based plug-in card), a 1U switch box built with the company's high-speed Gen3 devices, and a software package that emulates the key fabric features necessary to do early engineering. These hardware and software development kits are intended to seed market adoption, and enable the rapid growth expected in the coming years. Contact a PLX sales professional for details.
At SC12, PLX will frame its ExpressFabric initiative with a 30-minute presentation during the Interconnect and Advanced Architectures track, titled PCI Express as a Datacenter Fabric, on Tuesday, November 13, at 10:30 A.M., in room 155-B, and presented by Larry Chisvin, PLX vice president of strategic initiatives.
PCIe, with its third-generation (Gen3) products in full production and Gen4 designs already in development, offers a compelling resource for designers to take advantage of the widely implemented and rigorously proven PCIe standard. PCIe has been deployed throughout nearly every industry market segment since it was introduced in 2003. The specification has progressed from a per-lane data transfer rate of 2 Gb/sec to the current Gen3 per-lane transfer rate of 8 Gb/sec, and can be aggregated to allow a bidirectional data transfer rate as high as 256 Gb/sec.
PLX was a pioneer in PCIe and, with first-to-market PCIe Gen3 silicon in 2010, helped enable today's powerful enterprise data center and consumer platforms. The company offers a market-leading 18 PCIe Gen3 ExpressLane switch devices with flexible configurations ranging from three ports and 12 lanes, and up to 24 ports with 96 lanes. These high-performance, low-latency switching devices offer a non-blocking internal crossbar, allowing full wire-line speeds, true peer-to-peer communication, multi-host capability, and spread spectrum support. Furthermore, the switches include PLX's unique visionPAK software that provides performance monitoring, SerDes eye measurement, packet generation, and error injection -- features that dramatically reduce system debug time without special instrumentation.
SC12 is an annual travelling conference and exhibition, held this year in Salt Lake City, UT, November 10-16, with more information on http://sc12.supercomputing.org/.
For more information on ExpressFabric, visit this page.