PCI-X technology debuts at WinHEC 2000

The Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC 2000), held April 24-26 in New Orleans, LA, was the place to be for the first PCI-X technology demonstration in the United States.

The Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC 2000), held April 24-26 in New Orleans, LA, was the place to be for the first PCI-X technology demonstration in the United States. Sponsored by Compaq Computer (Dallas, TX), the demonstration on Compaq servers highlighted PCI-X performance enhancements and backward compatibility with standard PCI drivers.

As a backward-compatible extension to the PCI local bus, PCI-X is the first PC-based I/O industry standard to break the 1-Gbyte/s barrier in sustainable bandwidth. PCI-X provides increased I/O requirements for high-bandwidth applications that use gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and Ultra3 SCSI. Capable of supporting 32- and 64-bit operation at frequencies up to 133 MHz, PCI-X allows more than 1-Gbyte/s data throughput (see Vision Systems Design, March 2000, p. 88).

A number of systems integrators are turning to the Fiber Channel interface as a means to store images to disk drives at high speed. At Nale (Kennsaw, GA), for example, the company is using a QL2100F Fibre Channel PCI card from Q-Logic (Aliso Viejo, CA) coupled to four Cheetah Fibre Channel hard drives from Seagate Technology (Scotts Valley, CA) to store images scanned at high speed (see "Document scanning profits from high-speed image processing," p. 7).

At WinHEC, Emulex (Cost Mesa, CA) and Seagate Technology demonstrated a 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel host bus adapter operating with Seagate's Cheetah 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel drives. With autospeed sensing and speed matching, the Emulex 64-bit, 66-MHz PCI LP9002 board supports both 1- and 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel connectivity. Compatible with today's 1-Gbit/s Fibre Channel standard, the board provides up to 400-Mbyte/s bandwidth on a single link when operating at 2 Gbit/s full duplex.

Semiconductor vendors are also striving to reduce the cost of next-generation image-processing boards. At WinHEC, both Philips Semiconductors (Sunnyvale, CA) and Micronas Semiconductor (San Jose, CA) highlighted highly integrated video encoders and decoders for that purpose.

Philips Semiconductors (Sunnyvale, CA) chose the show to introduce the SAA7108 PC-CODEC, an integrated NTSC/PAL video encoder and decoder targeting VGA card manufacturers. Available in a 156-pin BGA package, the one-chip video-in/TV-out device was demonstrated with the company's AGP card reference design, the SAA7108/

GeForce2 GTS. Built around the SAA7108 PC-CODEC and the GeForce2 GTS digital video daughtercard from nVIDIA (Santa Clara, CA), the kit enables designers to build a low-cost video encoder with in-built scaling and antiflicker filtering.

Micronas Semiconductors (San Jose, CA) also showed a video decoder, the VPX 3226E. Capable of decoding NTSC-M, NTSC-443, PAL-BDGHI, PAL-M, PAL-N, PAL-60, SECAM, and S-VHS signals, the IC is available in a 44-pin PQFP package. Featuring two 8-bit video ADCs and four analog inputs, the device has an in-built selector for three composite video sources, two Y/C sources (SVHS), or two composite video and one Y/C source.

GigaStar data-link from Inova Semiconductors converts a 33-MHz, 36-bit-wide data bus into a 2.64-Gbit/s high-speed serial interface.

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