Ensphere Solutions joins Light Peak pursuit with transceiver IC

OCTOBER 8, 2009 By Stephen Hardy -- Following announcements by Avago Technologies and IPtronics, another company has announced that it too will provide technology for Intel’s Light Peak initiative.

OCTOBER 8, 2009 By Stephen Hardy -- Following announcements by Avago Technologies and IPtronics, another company has announced that it too will provide technology for Intel’s Light Peak initiative. Ensphere Solutions, a three-year-old Silicon Valley company that has transitioned from providing engineering services and IP to semiconductor products, has announced the availability of a transceiver IC for the Intel interconnect program.

The Light Peak optical interconnect technology, which Intel plans to make available next year, is intended to connect mainstream electronic devices like laptops, HD displays, televisions, cameras, video players, iPods, docking stations, and solid-state drives (SSDs) to each other using optical fiber at an initial speed of 10 Gbps. Light Peak will also support the transmission of multiple protocols -- such as HDMI, DisplayPort, and PCIe, among others -- simultaneously over 100 m of cable.

According to Ensphere Solutions Vice President of Sales and Business Development Al Gharakhanian, the interconnect comprises a controller IC (which Intel will provide) and an optical module. Ensphere Solutions’ new ESI-XVR10100 transceiver chip is designed for use within the Light Peak VCSEL-based module. Describing the current Light Peak vendor ecosystem as “a closed community,” Intel currently is working with only two module vendors: Avago and SAE. Since Avago will likely use its own transceiver IC, Ensphere Solutions will initially compete with IPtronics for SAE’s business.

As Intel requires, the ESI-XVR10100 supports a pair of independent channels, each with separate transmit and receive signal paths operating at 10 Gbps. Gharakhanian says his company’s use of 65-nm CMOS technology and monolithic design differentiate its chip from IPtronics’. The CMOS design will enable lower power dissipation and an easier ramp to volume production, Gharakhanian asserts.

Gharakhanian expects the number of potential customers to increase as Intel eventually loosens the reins on technology access. He says the company is already receiving inquiries from companies potentially interested in jumping into the market.

Ensphere Solutions has begun sampling the ESI-XVR10100; Gharakhanian expects production quantities will be available at the end of this quarter.

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