API unveils first HyperTransport switches

API NetWorks Inc. Monday unveiled a new switching component designed to increase the speed with which networking and storage products operate. [The new switching component is based on a high-speed connection technology created by Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) and known as HyperTransport. API Networks claims this will be the first switching component of its nature to use HyperTransport. Called the P4041 4-port switch, the switching component is due to be widely available in the second half of 2003.

The company is no stranger to the technology; it is a charter member of the HyperTransport consortium, which also includes Apple Computer Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., AMD and Sun Microsystems Inc.

HyperTransport is a high-speed interconnection technology used to connect chips on a computer motherboard. It is faster than the standard PCI bus, and is also compatible with Infiniband, 1G-bit Ethernet and 10G-bit Ethernet.

Designed for use in switches, routers, network-attached storage and storage-over-IP (Internet Protocol) equipment, the P4041 switch is used to connect processors at speeds of up to 12.8G bps (bits per second), compared to the 133M-bps speed offered by standard PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect). The switching component also allows hot-swapping, so if one of the chips connected to it fails, it can be replaced without taking the system down, Dave Rich, general manager at API NetWorks said in an interview.

Another advantage of the AP4041 is that it is fully compatible with PCI-based software, Rich said. "That has been critical for a number of our customers, because they have PCI devices they want to plug in, but they don't want to change the code," he said.

Samples of the product will be available in the first or second quarter of next year, Rich said. The chip is scheduled to be available in production quantities in the second half of next year, priced at US$146 in 1,000-unit quantities.

API NetWorks has already demonstrated a HyperTransport-to-PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) bridge chip, designed to allow HyperTransport-based systems to connect to existing PCI products such as graphics chips or SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) controllers. That chip, called the AP1011, is currently being tested by system builders, with products using the chips expected in the first quarter of 2002, Rich said.

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Douglas F. Gray

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