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Merger To Yield I/O, Clustering Products Based On PCI Express

A range of I/O and clustering interconnect products based on PCI Express will be the focus of the new Dolphin Interconnect Solutions ASA, which is changing course following a merger with StarGen Inc.

InformationWeek Staff

February 7, 2007

2 Min Read

San Jose, Calif. -- A range of I/O and clustering interconnect products based on PCI Express will be the focus of the new Dolphin Interconnect Solutions ASA, which is changing course following a merger with StarGen Inc. The move marks the end of a line of products using Dolphin's Scalable Coherent Interconnect (SCI) and StarGen's proprietary StarFabric.

StarGen and Dolphin executives struck up talks last fall about a strategic partnership under which StarGen would port Dolphin's middleware from SCI to Express for products StarGen had in development. The talks ultimately expanded into a merger agreement, announced in late January, in which Dolphin is giving StarGen stakeholders 2.5 million Dolphin shares, or a 22 percent stake in the combined company.

Dolphin (Oslo, Norway) has been focused on high-end clustering chips, cards and software for SCI, which links processors to memory for high-end servers as well as medical and military gear. StarGen (Marlborough, Mass.) has focused on embedded-system I/O with its proprietary StarFabric and, until recently, with Advanced Switching Interconnect (ASI), a variant of PCI Express that has failed to gain market traction.

Products for different markets

By June, the merged company will release at least two lines of products based on PCI Express. The I/O products will support spread-spectrum clock isolation and in-band integration of sideband signaling to help fan out Express links over copper or optical fiber. A separate clustering product could mark one of the first uses of the native Express protocol to link high-performance systems and I/O devices. The products will use Dolphin's SuperSockets software, which supports TCP/IP, the Message Passing Interface and other high-level server protocols.

"There is a series of products for different markets, ranging from fairly simple embedded I/O expansion to more sophisticated, combined I/O and processor interconnect solutions," said StarGen president Tim Miller, who will retain his title as StarGen becomes a U.S. subsidiary of Dolphin.

At the high end, the former StarGen group will roll out silicon as early as March for a noncoherent I/O and processor interconnect based on Express. Dolphin engineers based in Norway have a similar coherent Express interconnect product in the works called a NUMAchip. Nonuniform memory access (NUMA) is one approach to building a large multiprocessing server.

Another of the new products will extend Express signals to distances of up to 300 meters over optical fiber.

Along with Intel, StarGen was a leading proponent of ASI. ASI aimed to extend Express to the needs of communications and embedded systems with multiple host CPUs. StarGen cut its staff late last year after it became clear that ASI would not find market adoption.

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