Interface chip integrates PCIe, 1394B connectivity functions - Embedded.com

Interface chip integrates PCIe, 1394B connectivity functions

Allentown, Pa.—Designers of PC, notebooks and consumer electronic devices looking to differentiate their systems with richer features should check out a pair of ICs from Agere, one of which integrates 1394B and PCI Express (PCIe) connectivity interface functions on one chip.

Designated FW643, the PCIe-to-1394B chip is part of Agere's TrueFIRE product portfolio. According to Agere, FW643 is the first product to deliver the PCIe bus and 1394B functions in a single device. The FW643 is aimed at applications with larger sized files that require data to be transmitted at higher speeds.

Agere also developed a 1394 chip dubbed the FW533, which is a PCIe-to-1394A device for users who want the benefits of PCIe without the price premium associated with 1394B. FW533 will be priced about 20% lower than FW643.

“What's really important about these devices is they leverage the low-power capabilities of PCI Express, they leverage the routing advantages of PCIe, which enables main board designers to create smaller and more innovative motherboard designs. With 1394B, it enables high-speed transfer of data back and forth between computers and consumer and PC peripherals,” said Dan Devine, USB and1394 product line manager at Agere.

Indeed, 1394B transports data, audio and video between computer and consumer electronics equipment at up to 800 Megabits per second (Mbits/s)—twice as fast as current 1394A 400 Mbits/s technology. And by employing the PCIe bus, the chips occupy a smaller amount of space on the PC mainboard, giving designers more flexibility in their designs.

1394B emerging applications include PC producing high-definition content and external SATA based hard-drives industrial cameras.

The need for speed
System files are getting bigger and bigger. When DVDs came out, the industry thought 33-Mbytes per minute of video playback was huge. Now, HD-DVDs are streaming video at 62-Mbytes per minute. There are applications in which digital video editing is done with uncompressed video. To accomplish that, the file size requirement is 250-Mbytes per minute of video playback.

“There's a whole cottage industry of content producers and what they need to do when they create all of these large files on their Apple machines and their high-end Windows machines is a place to back them up very quickly and rapidly. And since many of these people are working out of their house or small businesses, they don't have huge backbone networks so they use external hard drives and 1394B external hard drives is a huge capability for this,” Devine said.

Another marketplace is A/V and handheld devices, such as high-end media players that are housing larger and larger media files. Some of them are being designed with 80-Gbyte hard drives. If users want to back up or move their audio or video very fast, 1394B is a superior technology, compared to what's currently out there, such as USB 2.0, according to Agere

The FW643 device has three ports that are configurable. They can either be 1394B ports or 1394A ports, depending on the needs of the system designer. The pin-compatible FW533 and FW643 can be used interchangeably in a PC mainboard design allowing maximum flexibility to PC manufacturers.

Another key feature of Agere's FW643 PCIe-to-1394B chip is its support of the PCIe Active State Power Management (ASPM). ASPM enables aggressive power management operating within the chip's link layer. Agere's PCIe link within the FW643 has implemented the L0 (L stands for Level) and L1 low-power states. These dramatically minimize the power the chip consumes in non-active states.

Both devices are housed in a 7x7mm BGA package. In 1K quantities, the FW643 and FW533 cost $6 and $5, respectively.

For datasheets, link here: www.agere.com/networking/1394.cfm?masterdetail=detail&prodid=55001&did=57318&tblid=55077&fid=55072.

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Agere Systems, 1-800-372-2447, www.agere.com.

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