Industry’s First I3C Intelligent Switch Family for Server and Data Centre

By Sharad Bhowmick

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To enable control bus scaling in chassis and rack-based systems and to simplify the design, Renesas Electronics Corporation has unveiled the industry’s first I3C intelligent switch devices. The new chip is designed for the next generation of server motherboards and other infrastructure equipment. The device is capable of reducing the complexity of high-performance system designs while improving the reliability and enhancing the scalability of the system.

Datacenter now requires to upgrade its technology to keep up with the advancement in software, applications and use-cases, as the existing hardware and software protocols find it difficult to catch up with the fast-evolving and dynamic field. The I3C is one such technology, created to take over the existing I2C communication protocol. This I3C switch family allows the expansion of two initiators (upstream) ports to four, eight or more target ports at max speed with full protocol awareness and compliance.

“Renesas was the pioneer of I3C hubs and expanders targeting the DDR5 DIMM market and we have always imagined great potential for this technology to proliferate across the entire platform,” said Rami Sethi, Vice President and General Manager, Infrastructure Mixed Signal Division at Renesas. “We are thrilled to have worked with Intel to realize that vision with the introduction of our new I3C intelligent switch family. These devices empower our customers and partners to bring advanced platform management capabilities to every subsystem within the rack.”

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The company hopes that its product will boost I3C adoption in data centres. They enable I3C control plane networks with multiple initiator controllers, such as CPU and Baseboard Management Controllers (BMC), to support targets across a large physical network running at full speed by improving signal integrity and reducing capacitive loading. They also support heterogeneous designs by providing IO level shifting and protocol translation for mixed I2C/SMBus and I3C networks.

“We are pleased with the strong collaboration between Renesas and Intel in defining an essential circuit solution for the expanding use cases of MIPI I3C Basic applications,” said Vik Tymchenko, VP and GM Platform Hardware Engineering Division at Intel. “Products like the I3C intelligent switch family help solve the fundamental limitations of MIPI I3C interface implementations in data centre hardware. With an I3C switch, we can increase capacitance and devices supported by an I3C network.”


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