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High-speed serial protocol becomes lightweight

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FPGA vendor Altera (distributed by Braemac ) and Canadian company Innocor have released the specification for “SerialLite”, a lightweight serial communications protocol for high-speed point-to-point data transmission.

SerialLite is a free, open protocol designed to reduce the footprint, latency and overhead challenges of other serial protocols. The protocol is targeted at systems used in wireless and wired communications, computer, video broadcast, data storage, industrial and automation applications.

The companies are also developing an HDL core and reference design to aid protocol implementation. The core will be designed for Altera’s Stratix GX devices. The core and reference design will be publicly available at no cost, say the companies.

“SerialLite is a standard, simple, scalable point-to-point serial protocol, which satisfies a large need in the industry," says Kevin Leary, product line director, Wireless Infrastructure, DSPS Division, Analog Devices. “We see SerialLite as an important development and expect it to be widely used in many market segments, including the wireless and wireline industries.

“SerialLite is important because it is the only truly open, lightweight, high-speed serial protocol with no restrictions on implementation platform,” says Randy Gill, president of Innocor. “This means the specification and sample code will both be publicly available at no cost and without restriction on how it may be legally used.”

Basic protocol features of SerialLite include: 8B/10B encoding performed in the PHY layer, packet encapsulation performed in the link layer and a back-end interface using the “Atlantic” interface. Optional protocol features include: virtually unlimited channel bonding scalability, the ability to operate in either streaming or packet-based transfer mode, packet prioritisation, data integrity protection using CRC-16 or CRC-32, multiple channel multiplexing, flow control and retry-on-error. The protocol employs the well-established XAUI electrical specification to aid ease of use.

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