Microchip’s 800G Active Electrical Cables (AECs) target generative AI network opportunities

Nov. 20, 2023
The META-DX2C 800G retimer is supported by a complete hardware and software reference design with key Microchip components.

As generative AI and AI/ML technologies continue to rise, the demand for more high-speed connections, including 800G connectivity, in data center networks and applications has never been more pressing.

Microchip Technology claims that the advent of Active Electrical Cables (AECs) can help satisfy AI/ML application speed requirements. However, the company points out various design and development hurdles for cable vendors to overcome.

The company is addressing challenges with an accelerated development path for these Quad Small Form Factor Pluggable Double Density (QSFP-DD) and Octal Small Form Factor Pluggable (OSFP) AEC cable products using its META-DX2C 800G retimer. This retimer is supported by a comprehensive solution for 800G AEC product development, including a hardware reference design and complete Common Management Interface Specification (CMIS) software package to minimize development resources needed for cable manufacturers.

The META-DX2C retimer uses high-performance, long-reach 112G SerDes that can support up to 40 dB reach, enabling the design of thinner and longer AECs crucial for dense hyperscaler infrastructure buildouts. Additionally, Microchip offers a fully validated paddle card hardware reference design and a software package that implements the CMIS software in a Microchip 32-bit PIC32 microcontroller. Microchip’s META-DX2C compact retimer can also solve similar connectivity challenges in high-capacity data center switches and routers where high density and data rates create signal integrity problems. 

"Generative AI is impacting how data center infrastructure is being built and the amount of network connectivity that is required, in a big way,” said Alan Weckel, co-founder and analyst with the market research firm 650 Group. “Hyperscalers need solutions with high bandwidth, low power, and low cost to address this challenge. We see a transition to active electrical cables as the optimal solution for this challenge. Microchip’s META-DX2C 800G AEC retimer is aligned with this trend and is the solution needed to enable growth in this area."

Microchip’s META-DX2C 800G AEC solution is supported by a paddle card reference design that includes the META-DX2C retimer, PIC32 microcontroller, oscillators, buck regulator, and linear voltage regulator, all from Microchip. These elements from a single supplier can simplify a customer’s supply chain management. The included software development kit supports the CMIS 5.2 specification.

The META-DX2C retimer, part #PM6254, with the hardware reference design, firmware solution and SDK, is available now.

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