NEC readies fast interface chip for parallel computing

NEC Corp. researchers will introduced yesterday a prototype of a high-speed interface chip that promises to increase data transmission speeds in parallel computing systems.

The prototype LSI (large scale integrated circuit) developed by NEC researchers is capable of transferring data between interface LSI chips at up to 80G bps (bits per second), or the equivalent of approximately two DVD (digital versatile disc) movies per second, NEC said in a statement on Monday. NEC researchers will present details about the chip on Monday at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco.

Designed to solve a key bottleneck in high-end computing, the forthcoming NEC LSI chip promises to double the data transfer rate and cut signal transfers to one-third of the time taken by conventional interface chips, and could enable the development of a new generation of highly parallel computers, the company said.

While computer processors integrate more and more functionality and have broken the 1GHz clock-speed level, the data communication speed between interface LSIs has not seen similar progress and has become an obstacle to total performance in high-end computer systems, NEC said.

NEC expects to have commercial versions of the interface LSI chip available by 2002, according to Aston Bridgman, a spokesman at the company's Tokyo headquarters.

The prototype chip is capable of operating 21 transmitters and 21 receivers simultaneously at a data transfer rate of 2G bps per channel, using a dedicated control line to send timing and data segmentation information from transmitters to receivers. In addition, the chip is able to process signal detection, timing adjustments and data ordering in just 6.5 cycles or 13 nanoseconds, equal to one-third of the time taken by conventional designs, according to NEC.

The International Solid State Circuit Convention (ISSCC) in San Francisco runs through Wednesday.

NEC, in Tokyo, can be reached at +81-3-3454-1111, or via the Web at