PCIe 5.0 switches accelerate ML and hyperscale computing, says Microchip

To meet the demands of applications such as data analytics, autonomous-driving and medical diagnostics, Microchip has introduced what it claims is the first PCI Express (PCIe) 5.0 switches. The Switchtec PFX PCIe 5.0 family double the interconnect performance for the dense computation, high speed networking and NVM Express storage required by machine learning and the hyperscale compute infrastructure.

Microchip says it is the industry’s only supplier of both PCIe 5.0 switches and its XpressConnec PCIe 5.0 retimers, to offer “a complete portfolio of PCIe Gen 5 infrastructure solutions with proven interoperability”.

The Switchtec PFX PCIe 5.0 switches double the PCIe Gen 4 interconnect link rates to 32GT per second to support the most demanding next-generation machine learning platforms, explained Andrew Dieckmann, associate vice president of marketing and applications engineering for Microchip’s data centre solutions business unit. These data rates, together with signal integrity and complex system topologies, pose significant development and debug challenges, says Microchip.

“Coupled with our XpressConnect family of PCIe 5.0 and Compute Express Link (CXL) 1.1/2.0 retimers, Microchip offers the industry’s broadest portfolio of PCIe Gen 5 infrastructure solutions with the lowest latency and end-to-end interoperability,” he said.

The Switchtec PFX PCIe 5.0 switch family comprises high density, high reliability switches supporting 28 lanes to 100 lanes and up to 48 non-transparent bridges (NTBs). Based on Switchtec technology, they support high reliability capabilities, including hot-and surprise-plug as well as secure boot authentication.
To accelerate time-to-market, the Switchtec PFX PCIe 5.0 switch provides a comprehensive suite of debug and diagnostic features including sophisticated internal PCIe analysers supporting transaction layer packet (TLP) generation and analysis and on-chip non-obtrusive SerDes eye capture capabilities.

ChipLink supports rapid system bring-up and debug. The graphical user interface (GUI) -based device configuration and topology viewer provides full access to the PFX PCIe switch’s registers, counters, diagnostics and forensic capture capabilities, Microchip said.

“Intel’s upcoming Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors will implement PCI Express 5.0 and Compute Express Link running up to 32.0GT per second to deliver the low-latency and high-bandwidth I/O solutions our customers need to deploy,” said Dr. Debendra Das Sharma, Intel fellow and director of I/O technology and standards. “We are pleased to see Microchip’s PCIe 5.0 switch and retimer investment strengthen the ecosystem and drive broader deployment of PCIe 5.0 and CXL enabled solutions.”

Microchip has released a full set of design-in collateral, reference designs, evaluation boards and tools to support customers building systems that take advantage of the high-bandwidth of PCIe 5.0.

Microchip also provides data centre infrastructure builders RAID over NVMe, storage, memory, timing and synchronisation systems, standalone secure boot, secure firmware and authentication, wireless products, touch-enabled displays to configure and monitor data centre equipment and predictive fan controls.

The Switchtec PFX PCIe 5.0 family of switches is sampling now to qualified customers.


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