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United Micro Electronics, one of the world’s largest contract semiconductor manufacturers, and XGI Technology, a graphics chips developer, recently licensed Rambus’ RaSer physical layer for implementation into XGI’s next-generations graphics chips as well as to offer the technology to UMC’s clients. The move indicates increasing footprint of Rambus in the field of PHY development.

Through the new licensing agreement, UMC’s customers can access Rambus’ RaSer PHY. Rambus will provide complete characterization data and evaluation boards for any UMC-based test-chips using the PHY cell. This Rambus RaSer PHY cell expands UMC’s IP portfolio with additional PCI Express compatible capabilities. XGI Technology licensed the new UMC RaSer PHY cell to drive its next generation PC graphics products.

The Rambus RaSer PHY cell for PCI Express applications is a complete serial communication cell optimized for implementing the physical layer of the PCI Express standard. The RaSer PHY is based on a proven SerDes cell used in multiple applications including InfiniBand and Ethernet XAUI products. In addition, Rambus offers a configurable Physical Coding Sublayer (PCS) as a synthesizeable RTL core to provide customers a flexible interface to the PCI Express MAC and upper logic layers. All Rambus RaSer cells are available with a comprehensive set of standard chip design tools for seamless integration into customer design flows. In addition, Rambus’ IC package, board and system design support helps ensure fast time-to-market.

Sometime in mid-year XGI is expected to release its graphics solutions for PCI Express x16 bus. Just like NVIDIA, XGI is using a special chip to bridge its AGP graphics processors with PCI Express x16 bus. There are already prototypes of such cards, though, I am not sure whether they are capable of working or not.

Native PCI Express solution is only expected to emerge along with the new architecture from XGI. The company’s upcoming graphics processors scheduled for late year release will not be a refresh for the Volari, but something totally new. We should probably anticipate that the product code-named XG45 will deliver what every new graphics processor is supposed to, e.g. speed improvements as well as feature-set improvements.

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