By Matt Burns, Technical Marketing Manager, Samtec, Inc.
Why did Samtec decide to join the Gen-Z Consortium?
Computing architectures are evolving faster than ever before. From cache coherence, open systems interconnects and system acceleration, the demand to get ones and zeros from point A to point B (or multiple locations!) just won’t stop. Samtec’s Gen-Z Consortium membership is an opportunity to leverage our signal integrity and silicon-to-silicon knowledge in new and exciting applications.
What are Samtec’s goals as a Consortium member?
Gen-Z is the tip of the spear for new system I/O interfaces. It is one of many efforts that will no doubt shape the path of next-gen system design. Being a Gen-Z Consortium member gives us a seat at the table there, as well as collaboration opportunities with industry leaders we may not have otherwise.
Does Samtec currently have any Gen-Z projects in development?
Yes. Our HSEC6-DV series 0.60 mm Edge Rate® High-Speed Edge Card Connector is compliant to SFF-TA-1002: x4 (1C), x8 (2C), x16 (4C & 4C+), so it meets the meets Gen-Z specifications.
What are some of the biggest challenges Samtec sees in the IT space and how can Gen-Z help address these?
Hardware acceleration has been around for some time. For data centers, determining how to add accelerators within the existing architecture can be a challenge. One emerging solution from Gen-Z is the PCIe® Enclosure Compatible Form Factor (PECFF). This new form factor marries the existing system infrastructures with the high-speed performance of Gen-Z.
At Samtec, we have developed a Scalable 32 GT/s Silicon Test Platform for AI based on PECFF. This test fixture offers realistic topology loss ranges over a cable mesh backplane and edge card connectors in a configurable and scalable system architecture targeting AI applications.
What does Samtec feel is the importance of open standards in the computing industry?
That is an interesting question. One of our standards specialists refers to connectors as the mortar between the bricks. I think that is an apt illustration. Samtec, and connector companies in general, have an important role to play with the semiconductor companies and the systems providers as well.
From a standards point of view, open-standards are driving next-gen technologies and encouraging collaboration across industries. The more teamwork you have, the better results you typically have. Additionally, open-standards participation leads to other opportunities to contribute or network within the industry. That can lead to new business opportunities for individual member companies. It can also lead to new standards, creating a mutually beneficial cycle.
How does Samtec see Gen-Z technology revolutionizing the industry over the next 5-10 years?
One of the largest industry trends we see are high-speed channel data rates. There are 25 Gbps, 56 Gbps PAM4 and 112 Gbps PAM4 silicon solutions available now, or they will soon be available. Routing 112 Gbps PAM4 data over long distances requires more than just PCBs and connectors. Within Gen-Z, we see efforts to adopt the latest Twinax and optical solutions that will support next-gen 112 Gbps PAM4 system architectures.