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Chip Heavies Weigh In On 10Gbps

A coalition of semiconductor manufacturers Monday outlined an initiative designed to help speed up chip-to-chip processes with the help of a new standard.

Under the moniker of the Unified 10Gbps Physical-Layer Initiative -- or UXPi for short -- the program is part of the IEEE-ISTO (Industry Standards and Technology Organization). The goal is to create a common physical/electrical layer standard of the 10Gbps chip-to-chip and backplane interface across multiple markets.

Chartered by five companies: IBM , Texas Instruments , Infineon Technologies , Applied Micro Circuits , and Xilinx , the companies say they will work in tandem with other industry bodies such as the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) and use their collective muscle to advocate, to simplify and accelerate the next generation 10Gbps systems.

Currently, standard bodies are defining 3.125Gbps and 5-6Gbps, and 10Gbps serial standards. As these bodies begin to solidify 10Gbps communication standards, the coalition says the need for a unified, compatible physical layer is critical.

"10Gbps interfaces will form the basis for future high-bandwidth connections in chip-to-chip, chip-to-optical module and backplane applications. As a leader in the standardization of interfaces, OIF supports the expansion of interoperability benefits," OIF president Joe Berthold said in a statement. "What UXPi is proposing is consistent with the OIF CEI project. These promoting companies are all members of the OIF and have been strong contributors to the CEI project. We look forward to collaborating with UXPi in working towards our mutual goals."

UXPi leaders say supplementing the efforts of standards bodies is important as they are often more focused on their respective markets and on defining the upper, logical/digital layers of the 10 Gbps standards.

The group says a common standard is also necessary because it will address challenges such as more severe attenuation and signal interference, which arise as 10Gbps digital signaling enters the radio frequency (or RF) domain.

"Whether in enterprise or carrier applications, it's clear that the market for serial interfaces has great price elasticity: lower costs can stimulate demand. From the eyes of system vendors, standards are desirable in that they enable multiple component vendors, control costs, and mitigate supplier risk," said RHK director of communications and analyst Allan Armstrong.