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Comms chips

Cisco's EZ 400-Gig

1:40 PM -- Although neither Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) nor EZchip Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: EZCH) will say so, it seems certain that EZchip's network processors will be the brains of ASR 9000 line cards. (See Cisco Pumps Up the Edge.) You've seen it mentioned on the message boards; multiple sources in the industry are confirming it; and now Seeking Alpha is writing about it.

That would seem to be one detail Ittai Kidron of Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. got wrong in scooping Cisco on the news. His early report on the ASR 9000 said Cisco's QuantumFlow chip would be involved. (See Cisco Plans Edge-Router Splash.)

(That's not meant to slight Kidron; in general, his report was spot on. And it's still possible that certain line cards will use QuantumFlow, I suppose.)

Cisco has already confirmed that the router won't do 400 Gbit/s per slot immediately, but that's just because the first line cards won't have that capacity. As has been theorized here, that's probably because EZchip's 100-Gbit/s network processor, the NP-4, won't be available until early next year, making a 2010 debut likely for the 400-Gbit/s capability. That would be in line with the ratification of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) 802.3ba standard that will include 100-Gbit/s Ethernet.

What would be interesting is to see if the router, internally, is even ready for a 400-Gbit/s slot. What kind of backplane and switch fabric are in there? How much oversubscription is involved?

One source says the biggest innovations in the 400-Gbit/s claim are in the power and thermal disciplines. I'm expecting a massive green-tinged campaign when the NP4 line cards become available.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

Teilhard 12/5/2012 | 3:26:35 PM
re: Cisco's EZ 400-Gig This from the Seeking Alpha piece would imply that the QFP will still be involved, just not on the line cards:
"The NP-4 has integrated support for the enhanced transport of video applications which moves the video processing functionality in switches and routers from centralized services card onto each line card. The systemGÇÖs services-card processor, typically a multi-core general-purpose processor, will offload critical tasks, in particular those related to video transport, to the NP-4."
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