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Comms chips

Broadcom Samples 64-Port 100G Switch Chips

Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) announced immediate availability of its new family of 50G/100G Ethernet switches for use in data centers and in high-performance computing (HPC) applications.

The latest variation in the company's Tomahawk line, the StrataXGS Tomahawk II supports up to 64 ports of 100G (or 128 ports of 50G) with packet switch engines the company says are optimized for software defined networking (SDN), operating at 6.4 terabits per second.

The company claims it is the first to provide a single switch chip supporting 64 ports of 100G. Broadcom, which leads the high-speed Ethernet switch market, has roughly doubled the throughput of its previous Tomahawk Ethernet chip, but appears to be second to get to 6.4 Tbits/sec. Barefoot Networks, a startup that aims to knock Broadcom off its perch, claimed 6.5 Tbits/sec for its uniquely programmable Tofino chip announced earlier this year. (See Innovations: First Programmable Switch Chip Threatens to Roil Multiple Markets)


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While designed to operate in the newer 25G/50G/100G Ethernet environment, Broadcom said the new version of the Tomahawk II will also support up to 128 ports of 40G as well as 128 ports of 50G.

Broadcom's StrataXGS Tomahawk II relies on large on-chip forwarding tables and packet buffer memory, combined with the company's own BroadView instrumentation and control capabilities. The combination helps the Tomahawk II provide enhanced traffic load balancing, network visibility and control of traffic provisioning. The chips are manufactured in a 16nm process; 16nm is very close to the leading edge of process technology.

Broadcom is facing increasing competition for the Ethernet switch business, but like any IC incumbent with a product line with a well-known architecture, Broadcom can bank on developers' familiarity with the product line. Tomahawk II’s architecture and wide feature-set will enable partners to develop and deploy solutions more quickly, Broadcom says, accelerating the transition to 100GE interconnect.

StrataXGS Tomahawk II Key Features

  • 6.4 Tbps Multilayer L2/L3/MPLS Ethernet switching
  • Support for 64 ports 100GE, or 128 ports 40GE/50GE
  • 256 x 25Gbps SERDES
  • Low Latency StrataXGS Pipeline Architecture
  • FleXGS flow processing with flexible match/action capabilities
  • Dynamic Flow Distribution for large scale Layer3/ECMP networks
  • Increased On-Chip Forwarding Databases
  • Higher Capacity Embedded Packet Buffer Memory
  • BroadView network telemetry features
  • overlay and tunneling support including VXLAN, NVGRE, MPLS, SPB
  • OpenFlow support using Broadcom OF-DPA

The company said the StrataXGS BCM56970 Tomahawk II Switch Series is now sampling.

— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading

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