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GlobalFoundries Offers 56Gbps Serdes

January 10, 2017

Author: Loring Wirbel

A year after launching its 14nm FX-14  FinFET  process for ASICs, GlobalFoundries is offering serdes intellectual property cores that support both 56Gbps PAM4 and 28Gbps NRZ coding. The ASIC business was acquired from IBM Microelectronics, though the specific FinFET process used in FX-14 was licensed from Samsung.

Offering both NRZ coding for rates of 28Gbps and lower, and PAM4 for 56Gbps and future rates, could be a wise move for GlobalFoundries. The company has demonstrated long-reach capability for its 56Gbps PAM4 serdes, and could apply this modulation to faster speeds. NRZ, meanwhile, still is being considered for very short reach 56Gbps applications.

Other ASIC suppliers like Broadcom (Avago) have offered 56Gbps serdes for more than two years, albeit at more conservative process nodes. Broadcom’s ASIC business, which comes from Avago, says it has characterized 16nm cores, but 56Gbps serdes for existing ASSPs from Broadcom use 28nm technology. Today, most vendors of standalone ASSP PHYs are targeting the module business. Only those vendors with the largest portfolio of products, such as Inphi, are likely to compete for the type of system designs targeted by GlobalFoundries.

The most direct competition for GlobalFoundries will come from the Broadcom ASIC business. As FPGAs move from their current target in optical transport to central data center roles, Xilinx and Intel could challenge GlobalFoundries as well. But for now, most data center designs rely on ASICs and ASSPs.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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