A Conversation with Richard Solomon PCI-SIG® US DevCon 2022 Chairperson’s Award Recipient

  • Posted on: 28 July 2022

The PCI-SIG® Board of Directors honored three individuals for their years of service and contributions to the development and expansion of PCI Express® (PCIe®) technology during the PCI-SIG US DevCon 2022 on June 21-22 in Santa Clara, CA. Congratulations to PCI-SIG Vice President Richard Solomon of Synopsys, recipient of the DevCon 2022 Chairperson’s Award. PCI-SIG Protocol Workgroup Chair David Harriman and PCI-SIG Board Member Debendra Das Sharma were also recognized. In the following interview, Richard Solomon reflects on his achievements with PCI-SIG over the past year and where he sees PCIe technology progressing in the future.

What does this award mean to you?

As corny as it may sound, it truly is an incredible honor to be recognized by a group of people that I respect so highly. I very much enjoy and value all the time I spend on PCI-SIG “stuff” (don’t worry boss, it’s not more than 20%, honest) and it’s tremendously rewarding to think, “Wow, this bunch of really smart and hard-working people recognize and appreciate what I am doing.” None of us are working on PCI technology for fame or fortune (certainly NOT fortune) so I’m particularly humbled to also recognize how many other people’s efforts have gone into my being able to receive this award. 

What are your proudest achievements related to PCIe technology in the past year?

First and foremost, it has to be the PCI-SIG Compliance Program and getting the PCIe 5.0 Integrators List testing started this April. There were so many people doing so much hard work writing the test specifications and developing the actual tests and tools to pull this off. At times, I felt a bit like one of those herding dogs you see on YouTube running around like crazy and occasionally barking or nipping at somebody’s heels but by the end somehow the whole thing comes together and works. Speaking of herds, or maybe hordes, I’m incredibly proud to have been a small part of the PCIe 6.0 specification development effort – and I got a few well-deserved heel nips myself along that path. This truly is a whole new generation of PCI Express protocol and I believe the industry is going to do amazing things with it over the next few years.

What has been the most fulfilling aspect of being a part of PCI-SIG for you?

That’s a tough one. On the one hand, I’d say working with the Developers Conferences because it’s just so incredibly satisfying when people come up to me and say something like, “Thank you, I never really understood the ACK/NAK protocol before and now I get it!” or “I’m a sales guy, but now I’m a sales guy who understands what he’s selling!” On the other hand, serving on the Board of Directors, I’m absolutely humbled when people up to me and say, “With your PCI-SIG hat on, I need your help with this problem…” Being able to serve as the voice of our members and to help guide this amazing organization over the last decades is probably THE most fulfilling thing in my professional life.

What do you feel is the impact of PCI-SIG and PCIe technology in the industry?

To really appreciate the impact of the PCI-SIG, I believe you have to look at just how much the industry (and dare I say the world) takes it for granted. Of course, there are engineers from hundreds of companies around the world working together to produce specifications that they all use in both cooperative and competitive ways. Well sure, I can buy a PCIe card from anywhere and plug it into any PCIe system without even noticing who made either of them. Yeah, I just bought a new smartphone, and it has lightning-fast graphics and more storage than the Library of Congress had 50 years ago. The PCI-SIG’s structure, organization, and processes make it possible for our members to come together to create the foundations for those kinds of innovation and interoperability that quite literally change the world. I’m honored to have been a part of getting to where we are, and I can’t wait to see what the next 30 years hold!

Where do you see PCIe technology progressing in the next year?

I’m excited to see how many 32GT/s products from our first official PCIe 5.0 Compliance Workshop made it onto the Integrators List and I expect as an industry we’ll see a veritable explosion of new higher-bandwidth products over the next year and more. There’s a lot of work going on in the area of security, including some new PCI-SIG specification material that should be published well within the year, and I’m sure we’ll start to see products implementing those ever more critical features. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Mostly a huge thank you to everyone that came out to the recent US Developers Conference – it was great to finally get back to that camaraderie and I hope everyone had as much fun as I did at the 30th Anniversary Party! It was fantastic to see so many people in person after the last couple of years, and I was really encouraged by how many new faces there were. (A special shout out to whomever it was that said while registering onsite that he’d been watching the live stream but heeded my pleas and came in person.) While I’ll admit it makes me feel a bit old at times, having a new generation of engineers tackling PCI Express technology development is clearly going to yield great rewards for the next 30 years. I hope to see even more folks this year as we hold in-person PCI-SIG Developers Conferences in Germany, Israel, Japan, and (for the first time ever) Korea

Interested in PCI-SIG DevCon Materials?

PCI-SIG DevCon 2022 presentation recordings and slides are available on demand for members to view on Causeway.