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PC/104-Plus compatible board with two StarFabric interfaces debuts

Posted: 29 Aug 2007     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:PCI bus board  StarFabric interface  PC/104-Plus board 


Digital-Logic has released the PC/104-Plus compatible board MSMSF104+, a highly integrated peripheral board with two StarFabric interfaces. The 32bit PCI bus board is based on the StarGen SG2010 controller, a PCI bridge chip that transmits the parallel PCI data into a serial format for the data communication via StarFabric. The MSMSF104+ works with all common PC/104-Plus CPU boards and provides a data rate of up to 2.5Gbits via two off-the-shelf RJ45 cables. The peripheral board expands the capabilities of the PCI bus by providing higher levels of scalability and reliability to PCI-based systems and by using the advanced features of StarFabric.

StarFabric is a fully transparent serial PCI bus extension that expands the capability of the Backplane bus outside of a computer casing over a length of up to 10m. The fast transmission technology is based on a switched network (Fabric) of serial interconnections and a bridge between the parallel PCI bus and this network. As StarFabric uses the PCI bus alternatively either as transparent or non-transparent bridge to the network, the PCI software and driver may be used unchanged. This technique offers some more advantages. With the help of StarFabric switches, up to 1,000 network nodes can communicate with each other and it is possible to build clusters by linking several CPU units to a network. In addition, StarFabric is remarkable for its hot-plug capability and its DOS and Windows software compatibility. Further operating systems are in preparation.

The board has dimensions of 90mm x 96mm x 15mm. It requires a typical 5V/250mA power supply and operates within the standard temperature range of -25°C to 70°C at a relative humidity between 5 percent and 90 percent. On request, a version with a temperature range of -40°C to 85°C is also available. The board is extremely robust and resists shock of up to 10g and vibrations from 5Hz to 2,000Hz. An MTBF value of over 100,000hrs confirms the high level of reliability and longevity of the PC/104-Plus board.

The MSMSF104+ board works in different operating modes. In root mode, for example, it is connected with a PC/104-Plus CPU board and operates as typical periphery board with bridge functionality as a transceiver. In leaf mode, the MSMSF104+ works as a receiver and operates with one to three periphery boards. In this case, the MSMSF104+ takes over all functions of a CPU—it generates the PCI clocks, interrupts, GNT/REQ, reset signals and the 3.3V and 5V voltage. As soon as the CPU is started with the root mode StarFabric chip, all PCI chips are initialised and provided with device numbers. This applies also to all periphery boards that are connected via the StarFabric network. The applications are mainly local distributed peripheral functions.

- Henri Arnold
EE Times Europe

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