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Around the board in eighty standards

Devices for communications systems rely on a bewildering variety of interface technologies. Designers should let FPAAs take care of the interfacing and interoperability issues. By Ken O’Neill.

In the past two years, there has been a proliferation of emerging interface standards intended to eliminate bottlenecks in passing data between ICs, boards and systems. As the most popular standards are now being offered on standard parts, it becomes important to understand why there are so many new standards and what designers can do to overcome interoperability headaches.

Looking at the architecture of a typical communications system (see Figure 1), there are many components which need to communicate with each other. Interface standards have evolved to serve the needs of each component in the datapath. To understand the advantages and disadvantages of each interface, it is necessary to look at what type of communication occurs at each component, starting from the optoelectronic interface and working towards the switch fabric.

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Graham Pitcher

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