Inphi unveils second-generation PAM4 chipset for 50/100/400 Gigabit Ethernet

Communications semiconductor supplier Inphi Corp. (NYSE: IPHI) says it will use OFC 2016 in Anaheim, CA, March 22-24 to show off the second generation of its PAM4 chipset. These latest iteration offers a 25% power reduction over the first generation of PAM4 semiconductors (see "Inphi unveils PAM4 PHY ICs, TIA").

Communications semiconductor supplier Inphi Corp. (NYSE: IPHI) says it will use OFC 2016 in Anaheim, CA, March 22-24 to show off the second generation of its PAM4 chipset. These latest iteration offers a 25% power reduction over the first generation of PAM4 semiconductors (see "Inphi unveils PAM4 PHY ICs, TIA").

The PAM4 PHY IC family includes a configurable digital signal processing (DSP) engine and a media agnostic dual mode transmitter architecture. Combined, the chipset can support a variety of applications and rates, including emerging applications based on 50-Gbps lanes, such as 50 Gigabit Ethernet and 400 Gigabit Ethernet (see "IEEE sets objectives for 200 Gigabit Ethernet"). It also can support 100 Gigabit Ethernet designs. The integration of multiple channels along with transmit and receive PAM4 and FEC functions on a single IC represents twice the integration level of competitive offerings, Inphi asserts.

The production-ready portfolio includes the IN015050-SF for 50G, IN015025-CA for 100G, and IN015025-CD for 400G. The ICs interface with host ASICs that have 10/20/25G NRZ and 56G PAM4 electrical interfaces while bridging to 20- to 28-GBaud PAM4 optics. Other features Inphi calls out include:

  • Multiple programmable FEC options with varying levels of pre-FEC BER performance for distances in excess of 10 km
  • "Numerous" self-test and loopback modes that enable diagnostic monitoring of channel and system parameters
  • Eye-scan, samplers, and monitors on all receiver interfaces for link margin and stress testing along with GUI and API routines for data and error analytics
  • A package design that enables denser line cards, as well as optimizations for QSFP28-based modules and line card designs.

"The recent IEEE standards activity clearly points to PAM4 28Gbaud being the future of optical signaling for 50G to 400G," according to Loring Wirbel, Senior Analyst at The Linley Group. "With the production availability of Inphi's new PAM4 chipsets, optical module solutions based on 28-GBaud PAM4 can now become a reality with real deployment expected in the next few quarters."

Inphi will display the devices at Booth #3611 at OFC 2016.

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