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Compute Express Link (CXL) Tech Gains Traction

March 20, 2019

Alibaba, Cisco, Dell EMC, Facebook, Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei, Intel and Microsoft formed a new industry standard group dedicated to advancing Compute Express Link (CXL), a new high-speed CPU-to-Device and CPU-to-Memory interconnect designed to accelerate next-generation data center performance. The group of companies also ratified the CXL Specification 1.0, an open industry standard that delivers breakthrough performance for emerging usage models while supporting an open ecosystem for data center accelerators and other high-speed enhancements.

The CXL Specification 1.0 enables a high-speed, efficient interconnect between the CPU and platform enhancements and workload accelerators, such as GPUs, FPGAs and other purpose-built accelerator solutions.

The technology is built upon the well-established PCI Express® (PCIe®) infrastructure, leveraging the PCIe 5.0 physical and electrical interface to provide advanced protocol in three key areas:

1. I/O Protocol

2. Memory Protocol, initially allowing a host to share memory with an accelerator

3. Coherency Interface


CXL technology maintains memory coherency between the CPU memory space and memory on attached devices, which allows resource sharing for higher performance, reduced software stack complexity, and lower overall system cost. This permits users to simply focus on target workloads as opposed to the redundant memory management hardware in their accelerators. CXL was designed to be an industry open standard interface for high-speed communications, as accelerators are increasingly used to complement CPUs in support of emerging applications such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The specification is available to companies that join the CXL Consortium.

Join CXL Industry Leaders

The founding promoter companies represent a wide-range of industry expertise and include leading Cloud Service Providers, Communications OEMs and System OEMs. The group is in the process of incorporation as an open standard body. Furthermore, efforts are now underway to create innovative usages that leverage CXL technology as well as develop CXL Specification 2.0 to further the standard’s technical features and capabilities.

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