PCIe Cable Connection System for Open Compute Project servers

12th October 2022
Sheryl Miles

Molex, a global electronics and connectivity innovator, has announced the release of its NearStack PCIe Connector System and Cable Assemblies for next-gen servers.

Developed in collaboration with members of the Open Compute Project (OCP), NearStack PCIe replaces traditional paddle-card cable solutions to optimise signal integrity and improve system performance. 

A standout feature of NearStack PCIe is its direct-to-contact twinax termination, which eliminates the need for paddle cards within the cable assembly. Unlike competing cable jumpers, which are terminated by hand-soldering cables onto a PCB paddle card, NearStack uses a fully automated wire termination process. This high-precision process improves manufacturing efficiencies, repeatability and signal integrity.

“Thanks to its superior construction, NearStack PCIe is ideal for next-generation PCIe Gen-5 and Gen-6 system implementation,” said Bill Wilson, New Product Development Manager, Molex Enterprise Solutions. “The product is capable of 32-Gbps NRZ data rates, enabling server OEMs to achieve unprecedented performance.”

Critical components for the Open Compute Project

The Open Compute Project is a consortium of industry leaders dedicated to combining the best available technologies into standardised hardware development with high-speed and high-bandwidth capabilities.

NearStack PCIe was defined and adopted as a standard by the Small Form Factor (SFF) committee as SFF-TA-1026, and OCP recommends the technology as ‘TA-1026’ for server reference designs.

NearStack PCIe also has been included in the OCP Modular – Extensible I/O (M-XIO) specification and the Modular – Full Width HPM Form Factor (M-FLW) as part of the next-generation OCP Data Centre – Modular Hardware Systems (DC-MHS) family.

As part of an open SFF standard, the technology is available to second-source vendors under a reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) license. NearStack PCIe already has been second-sourced through these licenses, with additional licenses offered to multiple vendors. This strategy ensures inter-vendor operability between Molex and other vendors while creating a robust supply chain.

Mechanical design optimises space, simplifies integration

Molex has optimised the cable assemblies for efficient use of space as well as safe and simple attachment. Smart, rugged mechanical features, along with the optional ‘angle-exit’ cable design, let technicians plug the jumpers into crowded boards. In addition to alleviating space constraints, NearStack PCIe offers a low mated profile for improved airflow management and minimises interference with neighbouring components.

NearStack PCIe further simplifies integration through support for hybrid cables, with a NearStack PCIe connector on one end and legacy connector on the other.

These connectors provide a streamlined upgrade path for existing equipment, which enables customers to take advantage of the new technology immediately without redesigning or replacing current hardware.

Open Compute Project Global Summit 2022

  • Visit Molex at OCP 2022, 18 – 20 October 2022 in San Jose, California, to see the cable connector assembly on display.
  • See three demos: A new data-centre modular system that paves the way for the next-gen OCP rack standard, Molex’s advanced thermal solution designed to meet future pluggable I/O requirements and a Single-Phase Liquid Immersion Cooling system.
  • Attend Expo Hall session on 19 October to learn more about SFF TA-1026 and the central role NearStack PCIe plays in the forthcoming OCP DC-MHS standard.

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