In addition, the better understood Layer 2 functions have attracted at least one more chip vendor into the fold.
Those vendors would be Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Nokia Networks , and the Nortel Networks Ltd. Metro Ethernet Networks unit that is being acquired by Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), writes Simon Stanley of Earlswood Marketing Ltd. , the author of the report.
A coherent receiver is part of the OIF framework for 100 Gbit/s, and it requires some special components. Particularly, it takes an analog/digital converter (ADC) that runs at 56 billion samples per second; four of these feed one digital signal processor (DSP).
The only vendor to announce such an ADC, so far, is Fujitsu Microelectronics Europe (FME) . (See Fujitsu Micro Tackles 100G.)
Some of the equipment vendors mentioned above are presumed to be using the Fujitsu design, often integrating it with the DSP, Stanley writes.
While those companies have focused on Ethernet gear and, in EZchip's case, routers, TPack is in the optical networking space, best known for developing linecards.
TPack discussed details of its yet-unreleased chip at the recent Carrier Ethernet Design conference put on by The Linley Group . It's only a Layer 2 chip, "so they're much more narrowly focused" than EZchip or Xelerated, says Bob Wheeler, a Linley Group analyst.
At the Linley conference, TPack showed a slide indicating that it needs only one processor to build a 100-Gbit/s linecard, whereas EZchip and Xelerated use two. That's a bit of an illusion, Wheeler says: "They decided to divide it into a packet processor that does 100-Gbit/s full duplex, and then a separate traffic manager. So, it's still a two-chip solution. They just decided to partition it differently."
Neither TPack nor Xelerated is shipping a 100-Gbit/s network processor yet. EZchip's NP-4, assumed to be a critical component for the Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) ASR 9000 line, began sampling in January. (See EZchip Samples 100G Processor.)
Here's a smattering of other recent 100-Gbit/s-related news:
- Router Memory Gets a 100G Makeover
- Dutch Exchange Sticks With Brocade
- LSI Launches Wireless Processors
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading