Virtual PCIe Debuts


Developers are wasting no time in getting the new virtual flavor of PCI Express out the door, opening up one of the last bottlenecks between hardware and software as the enterprise goes increasingly virtual.


Last week, the PCI-SIG formally released the I/O virtualization (IOV) suite for the PCIe protocol. The suite provides for both Single- and Multi-Route (SR- and MR-IOV) that allow I/O devices to be shared by multiple CPUs and/or operating systems. Not only is it expected to reduce hardware requirements across the enterprise, but it should introduce greater application/OS consolidation as well.


The suite also provides for Address Translation Services that optimize the connection between I/O devices and the input/output memory management unit (OIMMU), lessening the amount of required cache and lowering memory bus consumption.


One of the first developers to deploy the IOV suite is Synopsys Inc., which quickly introduced it in its DesignWare IP semiconductor design software. The package supports the Single-Route IOV 1.0 spec, along with a full set of digital controllers, PHY and verification IP, to allow system on chip (SoC) designers to incorporate the new protocol right away. The system operates at 2.5 GT/s or 5.0 Gtps per lane and supports advanced features like multiple physical and virtual functions, alternative routing ID interpretation (ARI) and function level reset (ATS).