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Integrated Switch Chips: Delivering Terabit Performance
Global Internet traffic continues to grow rapidly with video services driving exponential growth in both broadband and wireless networks. Most high-performance servers have 10Gbit/s connections, and a growing number have 40Gbit/s connections. With 10Gbit/s and 40Gbit/s connected servers, high-density blade servers and rack mount servers data center interconnect is moving quickly from 10 Gbit/s to 40 Gbit/s and 100 Gbit/s. Software defined networking and support for OpenFlow is making further demands on switching systems. These developments require significant investment in switching for data centers, high performance computing (HPC) and carrier networks.

Switch chipsets and integrated switch devices are at the core of high performance networking systems and many equipment manufacturers are using merchant silicon rather than in-house designs. Integrated Ethernet switch chips from Broadcom, Intel and Marvell are used by all the major telecom and networking equipment manufacturers for top-of-rack and stackable switches. Many companies are also using these Ethernet switches and the proprietary switch chipsets from Broadcom for larger systems. Mellanox, PLX and IDT have developed market leading positions for InfiniBand, PCI Express and RapidIO, respectively.

Following significant consolidation, chipset vendors continue to make significant investments in new devices with higher speed interfaces, new features and greater integration. 10Gbit/s serial links have changed the market with integrated Ethernet switch devices supporting up to 36 40GE or 96 lower speed ports. Similar speed increases are coming through for PCI Express and RapidIO with Gen 3 solutions. InfiniBand continues to offer the highest bandwidth ports. The number of switch silicon vendors has dropped but the competition is just as intense.

Integrated switch devices and switch chipsets are an essential component in most high performance networking systems. Top-of-rack and end-of-row switches in data centers, high-performance computing, enterprise networks and carrier networks are all shifting to 10-, 40- and 100Gbit/s interconnects. Ethernet continues to be the dominant interconnect between systems. Both Ethernet and PCI Express are used within systems. InfiniBand and RapidIO are widely used for HPC and wireless network systems respectively.

All the companies covered in this report continue to make significant investments in new switch chipsets and devices. 10Gbit/s serial interfaces are universally used and have enabled vendors to deliver integrated switch devices that are capable of over 1Tbit/s switching and chipsets that will scale to 400 Tbit/s. The next generation of switch devices will integrate more programmable capabilities and deliver greater performance. With 25/28Gbit/s serial interfaces and support for 100GE these next-gen devices should be able to support over 5 Tbit/s within a single device.

Integrated Switch Chips: Delivering Terabit Performance analyzes the current and projected use of ATCA, AMCs and MicroTCA by telecom equipment manufacturers, based on the results of an exclusive worldwide survey of engineers, designers, product managers and sales/marketing personnel that work for telecom and networking system equipment manufacturers and suppliers. The responses to our survey make it clear that these standard platforms are now widely used in many types of networking equipment, from the access edge to the core of the network.

Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (cci0812toc.pdf)
The following excerpt shows a typical switch chipset with several switch fabric devices, located on one or more switch cards, connected to a fabric interface chip on each line card. Packets from a network processor or traffic manager on the ingress line card are split into cells and then queued at the fabric interface chip (FIC). Cells are then scheduled through the switch fabric device to the egress fabric interface, where they may be queued again before being reassembled into the original packets. Cells from a single packet may all pass through a single switch fabric device (in-line) or may be split across multiple switch fabric devices (striped). Cells can be fixed or variable in size.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies profiled in this report include: Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM); IDT Corp. (NYSE: IDT); Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC); Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL); Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: MLNX); and PLX Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: PLXT).
Total pages: 23
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