Monday, April 09, 2007

RIO perks in the base station

Let me get my head out of the data center for just a minute to say thanks to Tom Cox, executive director of the RapidIO Trade Association, for forwarding a very interesting document on a proposed base station for next-generation cellular systems. The document details a test bed from Ericsson for Long Term Evolution, the next big step in the cellular infrastructure.

LTE will provide download speeds as fast as 100 Mbits/second, according to proponents. That’s two to four times as fast as the high-end cellular systems being discussed today. Tom sends me this document because the system is dripping with references to use of serial Rapid IO as a key interconnect for applications data. One rack mount system proposes use of 12 four-lane sRIO links as a fabric switch in a core ATCA system that houses more than 100 DSPs. The system also makes heavy use of Gbit Ethernet.

Dan Bouvier, a system architect at AMCC who helped develop RIO in his days as a Motorola PowerPC guru, forwarded the same Ericsson document to me as unusual in its level of technical detail. RIO is replacing a proprietary ATM-based fabric used in Ericsson base stations today, Bouvier noted.

Ericsson, long a backer of RIO for DSP farms, demonstrated the system at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona in mid-February. It was based on FPGAs that will be converted to ASICs by 2008 when the system is expected to ship, according to a report from my colleague John Walko that provided some good perspective on LTE and WiMax.

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