The standard RapidIO protocol provides for serial and parallel communication among chips, boards and systems. The serial version of the standard has gained acceptance among chip vendors as a proven way to communicate information rapidly over just a few connections. To help ensure the compatibility between products, three companies, Freescale Semiconductor, Texas Instruments and Xilinx, sent representatives to meet at Tundra Semiconductor (Ottawa, ON, Canada) to test the compatibility between products. Tests involved Advanced Mezzanine Cards (AMCs) from Freescale and Texas Instruments, an ML32x FPGA development board from Xilinx, and a development baseboard from Tundra. The latter board provided communications to the Xilinx board through coaxial cables and linked to the AMC boards through standard connectors. The tests aimed to ensure "Device A" would work properly with "Device B."
According to Tom Cox, executive director of the RapidIO Trade Association (RTA), the test is built on the association's RapidIO Interconnect Specification Device Interoperability and Compliance Checklist (1.3 specification), and check device-to-device electrical connections, as well as how well devices met the RapidIO specification. The meeting of the RapidIO group inspired Tundra to establish the RapidIO Interoperability Lab, or RIOLAB, at its facility. The Tundra staff will work with vendors of standard devices, FPGAs and ASICs to test and ensure compatibility of products that include RapidIO interfaces. Although the lab will operate at first under the auspices of Tundra, it will maintain an unbiased approach to testing and provide standardized test results to all vendors requesting it. And the lab will operate as a not-for-profit organization, in association with the RTA. Both Tundra and the RTA plan to spin off the lab as an independent entity within 12 to 24 months. Designers can find out more about the lab and the RTA at www.rapidio.org.