System Interconnect Fabrics: Ethernet Versus RapidIO White Paper

A white paper, System Interconnect Fabrics: Ethernet Versus RapidIO(R) Technology, released by the RapidIO(R) Trade Association and by Freescale Semiconductor Corporation, concludes that for many embedded applications, RapidIO technology outperforms Ethernet. The paper offers embedded designers a detailed technology comparison that will prove invaluable as they design and specify standards for next-generation applications. The paper, authored by Greg Shippen, system architect for Freescale Semiconductor’s Digital Systems Division, NCSG and a member of the RapidIO Trade Association’s Technical Working Group and Steering Committee, is available on the RapidIO web site.

“This white paper, System Interconnect Fabrics: Ethernet Versus RapidIO Technology, is a comprehensive compilation of embedded interconnect information. It provides a high-level market perspective and delivers a detailed technical examination of these two technologies,” commented Linley Gwenapp, president and principal analyst of The Linley Group, in his foreword to the paper.

As the white paper notes, “market pressures demand that each new generation of networking and communications system deliver both higher performance and new functionality at a lower price.” As system engineers strive to meet these demands, they turn increasingly to standards-based solutions, and many, by default, consider Ethernet due to its longevity in the market. Yet, interconnect technologies like RapidIO are gaining wide acceptance and in many cases, becoming the international standard in the wireless and military/aerospace markets.

With this white paper, engineers have access to an unbiased, comprehensive review and comparison of these two important interconnect technologies. The new white paper reviews the use of Ethernet and RapidIO technology as a system interconnect fabric, comparing them against the requirements for such fabrics, and includes quantitative analysis where possible. The paper explores system-level fabric requirements and provides a technical overview of both technologies before delving into an in-depth comparison. Prior to concluding, the white paper examines practical considerations and economics.

“For too long designers believed it was either Ethernet or RapidIO. This paper demonstrates the need for both interconnect standards and helps clarify where each is best suited to meet performance demands,” said Tom Cox, executive director of the RapidIO Trade Association.

Throughout 2007, the RapidIO Trade Association will provide educational events and discussions around the white paper comparing Ethernet and RapidIO. As programs are announced they will be posted on A sampling of these programs includes RapidIO Radio Podcasts featuring discussions with author Greg Shippen, webinars, a series of technical articles published in industry trade media, and expanded collateral. For more information, visit the RapidIO web site.

RapidIO technology is an established, scalable, packet-switched, high-performance fabric specifically developed to address the needs of equipment designers in the wireless infrastructure, edge networking, storage, scientific, military and industrial markets. Under active development since June 1997, the RapidIO standard represents continued commitment of the RapidIO Trade Association to addressing the needs of the ever-changing networking and communications marketplace. This ISO-certified, open-standard seamlessly enables the chip-to-chip, board-to-board, control, backplane and data plane interconnections needed in high-performance networking, communications and embedded systems.

RapidIO(R) is a registered trademark of the RapidIO Trade Association.