Airbud-PCIe Carrier Board
The Airbud-PCIe is a custom designed PCIe Mini card carrier that can host up to x12 PCIe Mini and/or M.2 form factor cards. What makes it unique is the ability to supply a full 7.5W of power per slot, and multiple arrangements for additional high power 5V connectors to satisfy virtually any power budget for the most demanding applications.
The design is created around the Diodes Inc. Industrial Grade x16 lane PCIe switching fabric. The board implements x1 PCIe interface to the host platform, as well as a special interface that implements PCIe single lane signalling and data over USB 3.0 cable (the same principle as digital currency miners use in their gadgets).
This device incorporates clock re-drivers to produce high-quality PCIe signals, allowing the use of extended long cables (up to 2 meters) between the host platform and the Airbud-PCIe carrier. Even though the initial design idea came from use case scenarios involving wireless cards, the board is suitable for any PCIe and/or M.2 modules. The x12 PCIe Mini slots are situated such a way that it allows for the installation of x8 high-power cards with heatsinks.
Additionally, the high-quality 8-layer PCB construction features a purposely chosen Mini-ITX form factor that allows integrator(s) to directly mount the Airbud-PCIe Carrier Board to the top or the bottom of a legacy Mini-ITX motherboard. The DC-DC switching regulator on the board takes anything in a range 7V - 28V through two convenient connectors, including one standard PCIe 8-pin for compatibility with modern ATX power supplies.
Contact us for more information about Airbud-PCIe including volume orders and custom build options.
Where to Buy
Airbud-PCIe Carrier Board Features
- x12 High-Power PCIe Mini slots
- x12 USB 2.0 interfaces to PCIe slots, all accessible over PCIe bus
- x16 lane PCIe switching silicon
- x1 lane PCIe host interface
- x1 USB 3.0 style PCIe host interface
- 7V- 28V DC
- Mini-ITX form factor
- Compatible with any PCIe Mini and/or M.2 radio card
- Designed in Canada
Assembled and tested Airbud-PCIe Carrier Boards are available for pre-orders HERE.
All our appliances and components are assembled and tested by local staff (Ottawa, Canada).
Contact us us for volume price and custom build options information.
Documentation & Support
Airbud-PCIe Carrier Board Story and Use Cases
What Makes Our Airbud-PCIe Carrier Board Unique?
There are no other market offerings that will allow simultaneous access to x12 PCIe based radio components in such a compact and elegant design. Careful considerations at the power circuit design stage allows for the installation of full-power cards to each and every slot on the board. All slots support USB 2.0 and SMB/I2C interfaces that are accessible over a single PCIe lane arrangement to the host interface. Plus, the flexible PCie host interface (standard x1 lane golden fingers and PCIe over a USB 3.0 cable), combined with high quality re-drivers, allows for the use of longer-than-usual cables and opens the door for integrators tasked with multiple PCIe Mini and/or M.2 cards arrangements.
Why Are We Doing This?
We initially sought to develop a prototype architecture and its key components as the underlying technology for large scale WiFi band monitoring. Our team first investigated the available radio card technology for their RF monitoring capabilities (not a standard feature that typically requires enhancements). Other aspects considered were their respective hardware interfaces and frequency/band coverage. At this stage, we collaborated with internationally-recognized entities such as BackTrack Linux, Offensive Security, Kali Linux, Kismet Project, Parrot Linux, and a number of respected researchers in the wireless monitoring field.
We then sought to determine the necessary physical interface for the radio devices. Evaluation and performance testing was conducted with a number of vendor offerings, such as Atheros, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Marvell, Intel and Realtek. Based on this careful analysis, our team selected PCIe (PCI Express) based cards for further investigation. This interface was expected to support bandwidth requirements, as well as reliability.
Following this, we worked to identify a suitable architecture that was capable of handling a large number of PCIe components, while also being able to deliver the data stream to the computing platform over a single lane PCIe interface. Then, we evaluated numerous PCIe switching matrix technology suppliers, such as ADT, Texas Instruments, PLX Technology and Pericom/Diodes. Based on this analysis, we selected Pericom for the prototype. ALFTEL then collaborated with Pericom/Diode’s engineering team and Avnet’s engineering support to consider new technology offerings.
As a result, we finalized the prototype architecture that would support the required number of radio components (12), combined with the ability to create an extendable platform. It took us a long time and multiple design re-spins to figure out all the bugs and flaws, but now we are ready for small production quantities!
Applications - What Are Airbud-PCIe Use Cases?
- Ideal platform to implement multi-radio PCIe Mini / M.2 based systems
- Any application that requires access to large number of PCIe Mini / M.2 resources
- Evaluation and Research platform for PCIe switching technology