The DesignCon convention by no means fails to stay as much as its fame of being the premier platform for state-of-the-art chip and board know-how, and DesignCon 2019 was no totally different.
As soon as once more, DesignCon demonstrated why it has develop into probably the most revered convention and exhibition for engineers engaged in high-performance chip, PCB, and system design. DesignCon 2019 featured an exposition flooring with 175 distributors demonstrating the newest advances in high-speed elements, channel simulation, and testing capabilities. Emphasis on interconnect applied sciences has made this convention distinctive, and this yr it attracted 25 main connector producers and lots of high-performance cable meeting suppliers, and quite a few cubicles featured stay demonstrations of bleeding-edge knowledge price transmission. One other trademark of this convention is the in depth schedule of technical periods divided into 15 tracks that addressed the problems engineers face when designing next-generation digital gear. A number of periods targeted on challenges of 56 and 112Gb/s PAM4 digital circuits.
One of the crucial vital takeaways from this yr’s occasion is the message that copper interconnects will proceed to be alive and properly even because the business pushes past 100Gb/s channels. The adoption of PAM4 signaling has enabled copper backplane and I/O connectors to fulfill the sign integrity necessities of the subsequent a number of generations of kit. Connectors in each classes proceed to be optimized, negating the necessity for the event of solely new connector households. Though a number of new connectors have been introduced at DesignCon 2019, many stay demonstrations utilized present interfaces.
Representatives of connector corporations indicated that the majority manufacturing gear immediately makes use of channels that run within the 10 to 15Gb/s vary. Element suppliers acknowledge that interfaces have to be able to supporting next-generation speeds with out altering key hardware. Though it might be years earlier than 112Gb/s channels are required, the power to exhibit a transparent migration path is the motivation to point out that the hardware can help these speeds when wanted.
The arrival of PAM4 is likely one of the enabling applied sciences that’s important to designing next-generation gear. Persevering with advances in silicon is one other. Years in the past, connector producers found that fine-tuning of the interface had reached a plateau and that each aspect in a circuit, together with PCB materials, format, and connector launch, in addition to twin axial cable development, have a serious influence in general channel efficiency. Large advances in sign conditioning options baked into the silicon have been acknowledged as offering the “magic” that may distinguish a high-speed sign among the many mud of noise. In consequence, connector producers have established strategic alliances with choose producers of superior SerDes and ASICs, high-performance PCB materials producers, sign integrity specialists, in addition to cable suppliers when demonstrating a high-end channel efficiency. Many connector demonstrations utilized chips from Credo, Inphi, and Xilinx. Profitable circuit design now “takes a village” of cooperation.
After evaluate of the various high-speed channel demonstrations, it was obvious that loss and distortion related to even the very best efficiency PCB supplies is driving the development towards taking high-speed alerts out of the PCB and routing them by way of copper twin axial cable, the place impedance, skew, crosstalk, and reflections may be a lot better managed. Samtec pioneered this idea a number of years in the past with the introduction of their FireFly Micro Flyover household of copper and fiber interconnects. This idea is now being adopted by many others. Low-profile, high-density, separable cable-to-PCB connectors are proliferating with far-end termination to a different location on the PCB, a QSFP I/O, or backplane connector.
One other development on the present was the persevering with effort on the a part of connector producers to broaden the menu of assets and product choices by way of acquisition. Inner improvement of a brand new class of services or products could be costly and time-consuming. Acquisition of an present provider offers quick entry and recognition as a big participant. This development has been obvious over the previous few years as a number of connector producers have drastically expanded their involvement in connector-related digital sensors. Suppliers are shifting into synergistic applied sciences, together with semiconductors and software program. Molex just lately acquired Nallatech and BittWare to supply FPGA accelerator merchandise for pc, community, and storage purposes. Samtec added nMode to their digital packaging group to advance their 2D, 2.5D, and 3D system packaging capabilities. TE Connectivity made a serious dedication to increasing its involvement within the digital sensor business with its acquisition of Measurement Specialties. Amphenol just lately bought Ardent Ideas to realize entry to their portfolio of compression contacts.
The cubicles of main connector producers featured an in depth array of high-performance interconnects and stay demonstrations.
Amphenol ICC showcased their rising line of inner OverPass cable merchandise, together with PCB to SFP, QSFP, and QSFP-DD I/O connectors.
The brand new LinkOVER compression cable connector operating 112Gb/s PAM4 over one meter of cable is the newest addition to the OverPass secure of interconnects.
Pure cable backplanes stay a distinct segment software and are sensible in comparatively few high-end purposes, whereas orthogonal midplane and orthogonal direct configurations are persevering with to realize acceptance. Amphenol ICC suggests a hybrid configuration of their Paladin orthogonal backplane connector that integrates each right-angle PCB contacts in addition to provision for accepting differential shielded cables that deal with the very best velocity alerts.
Persevering with to broaden their line of low-profile mezzanine connectors, Amphenol demonstrated the brand new M-Collection 56 connector working at 56Gb/s NRZ. This versatile connector provides a variety of stacking heights from four to 15mm.
Molex featured all kinds of high-speed interfaces, together with the brand new MirrorMezz stacking connector. This hermaphroditic mezzanine connector options stack heights of two.5 to 11mm.
Contacts might be loaded to offer customized configurations to help single-ended and differential signaling in addition to energy distribution.
An extension of the MirrorMezz connector has been tailored for termination to differential cable. Designated the Twin-AX Grid Array (TGA), this low-profile, high-density meeting can ship 112Gb/s PAM4 channels. Molex sees one of these “waveguide interconnect” as a potential path to 224Gb/s channels.
Further demonstrations included QSFP-DD direct hooked up cable assemblies working at 56Gb/s PAM4 and an Impulse orthogonal direct cable backplane connector operating at 112Gb/s PAM4. Molex additionally featured their QSFP-DD cable assemblies delivering 400Gb/s Ethernet over three-meter cable assemblies.
The Molex sales space included a full Open 19 rack displaying the various variations of interconnect out there.
Concern about thermal points continues to canine the business, as larger speeds typically end in elevated energy demand that generates extra waste warmth. Will increase in system packaging density makes thermal administration much more troublesome. A Molex demonstration server illustrated the distinction in thermal effectivity based mostly on the orientation of a QSFP-DD connector.
Samtec continues to increase its spectacular line of high-performance board-to-board and board-to-cable connectors. The NovaRay is an excessive high-density stacking connector rated to 56Gb/s NRZ, permitting a single connector to conduct 9 IEEE 400Gb/s channels. This interface has been tailored to an inner cable configuration and was demonstrated in a one-meter Flyover software of QSFP28 to a vertical NovaRay operating 112Gb/s PAM4.
One other demonstration included a five-meter ExaMAX cable backplane meeting operating at 56Gb/s PAM4.
Samtec additionally featured an open chassis lively product demonstrator that includes 56Gb/s NRZ operating over quite a lot of connectors, together with AcceleRate, ExaMAX backplane, QSFP28 I/O, and flyover cables.
With a purpose to tackle thermal points, particularly in supercomputer and future quantum computing purposes, Samtec demonstrated a 28Gb/s NRZ FireFly connector tailored for submersion in 3M Fluorinert liquid.
The TE Connectivity sales space featured a number of stay demonstrations, together with OSFP 112Gb/s PAM4 over two meters of direct connect copper cable for an combination of 896Gb/s per connector.
The Sliver connector continues to be outlined in an increasing record of specs, together with Gen-Z, EDSFF, COBO, and Open Compute. Configurations now embrace vertical, right-angle, straddle mount, and orthogonal.
The TE sales space additionally featured a number of developmental ideas to deal with next-generation challenges. One board displayed a big LGA socket consisting of a collection of mid-board optical transceivers that might convert electrical alerts from the processor to optic hyperlinks that result in the faceplate.
One other LGA socket can be able to supporting a tool with as much as 10,000 contact factors.
Recognizing the problem in controlling temperatures within the field, TE demonstrated an enhanced QSFP-DD warmth sink that permits protected operation to 15 watts. Additionally they confirmed a module of 4 QSFP connectors with an built-in liquid cooled warmth sink.
Hirose showcased its increasing portfolio of high-speed mezzanine connectors, together with the IT3, 5, eight, 9, and 11 collection in addition to the FH collection of low-profile flex movie connectors. Additionally they confirmed their SMP miniature coax connectors rated to 40Ghz.
The power to deliver copper cable hyperlinks as shut as attainable to the footprint of a SerDes or ASIC is a creating development. I-PEX focuses on extraordinarily dense, high-speed, cable-to-board connectors that function a profile low sufficient to suit beneath a big warmth sink, decreasing the sign path by way of lossy PCB materials.
The race to develop much more pluggable I/O connectors seems to be settling down. A number of cable meeting producers promoted the complete array of SFP by means of OSFP configurations. The Luxshare ICT sales space, as an example, featured QSFP56 and QSFP-DD Direct Hooked up Lively Optical Cables, SFP-DD copper cables, and low-profile SLIMSAS cables and PCB connectors for PCIe Gen three,four, and 5 purposes. Every of those interfaces are discovering high-volume, long-term purposes.
A number of corporations launched new interfaces in anticipation of 5G networks arising in all places, together with antennas, subminiature coaxial connectors, in addition to elements utilized in central workplace, cloud, and knowledge middle infrastructure. The problem shall be adapting what has been high-end interfaces to the price constraints of high-volume business purposes. This new market potential is seen as a progress driver for the connector business for no less than the subsequent 5 years. Samtec has already produced an answer information for 5G purposes, whereas TE has a superb 5G white paper, “Mass Connectivity within the 5G Period.”
Some of the fascinating observations that got here out of DesignCon 2019 was a change in expectation for when fiber optic hyperlinks might turn out to be required. In a serious shift from final yr, when most connector representatives indicated that 112Gb/s PAM4 was the sensible restrict of copper channels, the opinion this yr leaned extra to the potential for attaining 224Gb/s channels. Few would conjecture on how that might be achieved however maybe a mixture of superior silicon, new interconnect buildings, and PAM8 signaling might present a path.