Long And Longer Reach SerDes – On The Road Again

Dispatches from the AI Hardware Summit and ECOC 2019.


We’ve had the pleasure of participating in two events over the past two weeks. I wouldn’t recommend doing two major shows back-to-back, but it has been exhilarating and quite interesting. Our “road trip” began last week in Mountain View for the second annual AI Hardware Summit. You’ve probably noticed you can go to an AI-related show every week (or more) if you like. The trick is to find one that cuts through the right applications and ecosystem.

For an ASIC and IP company like eSilicon, the AI Hardware Summit hits the mark. It’s a show that focuses on the hardware required to implement AI algorithms. As many AI shows will mix data science, advanced applications and end-user systems together, the focus on silicon at this show is very refreshing. This is the second year for the event. It was held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California on September 17 and 18. We’ve been there both years. This year’s event doubled in size, from 250 attendees to over 500. I can see where this one is going.

Our own Dr. Carlos Macian presented a thought-provoking talk entitled “Counterintuitive Intelligence: Doing More to Cost Less. A TCO Story.” Carlos presented technology and specific examples of how to control the total cost of ownership of an AI hardware solution. There are definitely some surprises in the presentation. There will be write-ups and videos posted about Carlos’ presentation. Google the title over the next two weeks.

We also exhibited at the show and did something that I’m not sure has ever been done before. Using Samtec’s ExaMAX Backplane Connector paddle cards and a five-meter (16-foot) ExaMAX Backplane Cable Assembly, we demonstrated the performance, flexibility and extremely low power consumption of our 7nm 58G DSP-based PAM4/NRZ SerDes. This demo is big, too big to fit on our tabletop exhibit, so we spilled over to our neighbor on the show floor, Samtec, and ran the demo between both booths. That’s real teamwork.

Just as the AI Hardware Summit ended, we headed to Dublin, Ireland for ECOC 2019. This is a very large show, the 45th meeting of the European Conference on Optical Communication. Not to be repetitive, we came to this show with some new gear. Our long-reach, rack-to-rack SerDes demo now used a seven-meter (23-foot) cable. This is a first for us, using a custom-built cable from Samtec. Low power, high performance and low bit-error rates were maintained.

We also demonstrated rack-level communications with our SerDes and Samtec cables. Our SerDes drove two 67cm AcceleRate Slim Body Cable Assemblies and a five-meter ExaMAX Backplane Cable Assembly providing mid-board to backplane communications via a cabled backplane architecture from Samtec. This demonstration highlighted eSilicon’s SerDes architecture’s flexibility in supporting independent data rates and protocols on each individual lane, e.g., 50G PAM4 Ethernet, 24G NRZ CPRI and proprietary protocols up to 58Gb/s.

ECOC was a great show, and Dublin is a great city. This one will be hard to top. Keep watching.

Leave a Reply

(Note: This name will be displayed publicly)