High-speed serial protocol simplifies data transfer with Microsemi FPGAs

September 07, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
Microsemi’s “LiteFast” serial communication protocol aims to reduce design-in efforts and time to market: it implements high-speed serial links using the company’s FPGAs in the SmartFusion2 and IGLOO2 series.

LiteFast is a proprietary lightweight, high-speed, low latency, point-to-point serial communication protocol, to meet the needs of embedded systems across a wide variety of applications to transfer data at speeds higher than 1 Gbps. LiteFast gives engineers an implementation of high-speed serial links using Serializer/Deserializer (SerDes) transceiver blocks within SmartFusion2 system-on-chip (SoC) field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), IGLOO2 FPGAs and RTG4 high-speed signal processing radiation-tolerant FPGAs, without the need for heavy logic utilization, greatly reducing cost and power.

 

“LiteFast [provides] pre-synthesized intellectual property (IP) cores, an IP reference design and graphical user interface (GUI)-based demonstrations enabling … a lightweight serial communication protocol,” said Chowdhary Musunuri, senior director of design services and solutions, at Microsemi. “Customers who do not want the overhead of existing standards such as Serial RapidIO, serial Ethernet or PCIe can use LiteFast, ...a pre-validated option for those needing a viable low cost, high-speed, low latency point-to-point solution.”

Microsemi’s IP solution is designed for applications requiring high-speed serial communication links in back/control planes, chip-to-chip and board-to-board applications, high-performance bridging solutions, network interface cards, enterprise switches, data centres and medical applications. Space customers can benefit from LiteFast’s implementation of multiple high-speed serial links in applications involving wired connectivity, helping to improve the system-level bandwidths.

Microsemi notes that medical and industrial systems are increasingly adopting backplane circuit boards and line cards to make systems modular and scalable, and are using high-speed serial interface to easily transfer data. In addition to medical applications, LiteFast is suited for target markets including networking, data centre, industrial and aerospace, and supports Microsemi’s goal to strengthen its high-speed serial interface SerDes solutions portfolio. The solution comes with pre-synthesized and validated IP cores (transmitter and receiver), a demonstration design and complete documentation. Designs can be reused across multiple platforms using the company’s Libero SoC Design Suite. LiteFast is validated with a hardware platform using the company’s SmartFusion2 Security Evaluation Kit, which has a 90K logic