A little bit of enabling technology news for you: Marvell has developed what it describes as the smallest PCI Express controller available, measuring a mere 7x7mm in a 48-pin configuration.
While the Yukon FE+ 88E8040 packs a lot of punch for a small package, sporting innovations like a single driver and pin design for both Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet, it's what it does for the wider system architecture that's most impressive. No need for external passives, voltage regulators or external EEPROM; they're hardwired into the controller -- a major space reduction for LAN-on-motherboard designs.
As far as capabilities go, the controller handles IPv4 and v6 checksum offloads, as well as a tool called Receive Side Scaling (RSS) for improved throughput. A smart power-down function cuts battery usage, while the Marvell Virtual Cable Tester delivers advanced diagnostics.
In just about every case, small translates into mobile, and while that's true here, the company also bills it as a low-power alternative for a wide range of desktops and devices spanning the consumer to enterprise markets.
Of course, it's great to have new components that help improve the design of existing devices. But what's really fun is to see if items like the Yukon lead to whole new devices themselves.