Chips from companies including Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), Fulcrum Microsystems Inc. and Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL) are accommodating higher speeds and more features, and they're getting especially potent in port capacity; announced devices carry up to 72 10Gbit/s Ethernet ports, the report notes.
"Over the last 12 months, switch silicon vendors have changed the market landscape," writes Simon Stanley, principal analyst for Earlswood Marketing Ltd. and author of the report.
Why this matters
The advantages that big systems companies had in raw chip hardware seems to be fading.
It's true that Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) still tend to design ASICs for their highest-end, flagship products. But they're adopting merchant chips more often, "partly driven by high cost of ASIC developments and partly driven by acquisitions," Stanley notes in an e-mail to Light Reading.
These chips could also help smaller systems vendors, particularly those in Asia/Pacific, build relatively cheap equipment that can compete for 40Gbit/s, 100Gbit/s and very dense 10Gbit/s cases. That could lead to more competition for the big players -- or more choices for possible acquisitions.
Here's more about switch chips and Ethernet chips, including some Lippis Enterprises analysis on 10Gbit/s switches for data centers.
- Switch Chips: Silicon Technology Delivers Step Change
- 10G Ethernet Switches Pass the Test
- Vitesse Moves Up to Layer 3
- Friday Show & Tell: Testing the New Ethernet
- Fulcrum Intros 10/40GE Switch
- EENY 2010: Broadcom Debuts 100G Switch
- Broadcom Packs 64 10GE Ports
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading