Agere Unveils Serial Interface Platform

Agere Systems
has introduced a platform that makes speedy serial interfaces work for

Agere’s Serial Storage Interface Platform (SSIP) is a configurable
serializer-deserializer (SERDES) which can be combined with Agere’s
TrueStore read-channel technology to develop storage SoCs and
controllers. The product allows hard disk drive and system manufacturers to moving
parallel interfaces to serial interfaces, which will increase the data
throughput between disk drives and motherboards in PCs, laptops,
electronic devices and corporate storage applications. SSIP can also be
in host bus adapter and chipset designs.

The news is indicative of the major push serial technologies have been
getting over older, traditional parallel technologies. Parallel data
transfer, such as Parallel ATA , entails sending data
along anumber of parallel routes and has always meant many wires and high
frequency signals prone to electrical interference. Serial ATA
is a serial link, or, a single cable with a minimum of four wires creates a point-to-point connection between devices.

Dave Reinsel, Research Manager, Hard Disk Drives and Components at IDC, discussed additional benefits of serial technologies over parallel with

“IDE or ATA drives can be master/slave, hence having two drives on one ATA
channel, but sharing the bandwidth,” Reinsel said. “SCSI drives exacerbate the problem
with the ability to share up to 15 devices on one cable. Managing the
signals becomes very difficult, especially as datarates increase. Hence,
the desire for serial interfaces, or in the case of Serial ATA and Serial
SCSI, pt-to-pt topologies. One drive gets its own channel.

“This way, each drive can utilize the full bandwidth itself without worrying
about having to share or manage signal integrity. Parallel ATA at 100 or
133 is just about at the end of its rope and Parallel SCSI (SCSI 320) is
bumping its head hard against the ceiling. Each will benefit greatly from
a serial architecture.

Allentown, Pa.’s Agere sees its SSIP as a building block for drive-side
systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) and integrated circuits (ICs) across such
interface standards as Serial ATA, Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) and
Fibre Channel. It will support current and next-generation data rates
each interface standard, including 1.5- and 3-Gbit/sec speeds for
Serial ATA
and SAS implementations, and 1.06-, 2.125- and 4.25-Gbits/sec for Fibre
Channel networked drives.

Serial ATA and SAS are projected to replace the predominant parallel
ATA and
SCSI interfaces over the next few
years, and Agere’s SSIP core can be used to increase the data
available in current parallel ATA drives from 100 to 150- and

Reinsel said Agere is trying to support the serial interfaces (SATA, SAS,
and FC) with a single core to ease the integration of these serial

“Anytime we can integrate technology into a fewer, or better
yet, a single, component then that eases integration and lowers the cost,” Reinsel said.

Reinsel said he expects the number of hard disk drives using serial
interfaces will represent 70 percent of the global drive market by

SSIP will be available for integration in custom-designed SoCs and
controllers beginning in April.

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