Chipping Away at 100-Gig
EZchip Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: EZCH) was supposed to lay claim to the first 100-Gbit/s network processor. But in an effort to get more customer-requested features into the design, the NP-4 chip has been delayed until the first half of 2009, as EZchip CEO Eli Fruchter announced in the company's most recent earnings call.
Xelerated's HX320s are due to ship in the fourth quarter.
It seems certain that 100 Gbit/s will be a hot topic at NXTcomm. We've seen Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) and OpVista Inc. already start talking about it. (See 100-Gig Demo, OpVista Runs With DMC for 40-Gig, and NXTcomm Preview: Ethernet & 8-Tbit/s.) But that's the optical side. Chips face their own sets of challenges.
Back when 10-Gbit/s networking started coming out, the market was awash with chip startups, particularly those providing physical-layer chips, mostly for an interface called XAUI. These devices would split an incoming 10-Gbit/s stream into four lanes of 3.125 Gbit/s, the fastest speed at the time that could traverse circuit-board traces without getting overwhelmed by distortion.
For 100-Gbit/s there's no flood of newbies. Xelerated will be tapping one of the few interface options out there: Interlaken, which started life as a proprietary project out of chip startup Cortina Systems Inc. and networking non-startup Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). (See Cortina, Cisco Team Up.)
"Interlaken seems to be getting some decent traction, particularly for 100-Gbit/s. It seems like the only thing going that's going to have a reasonable lane count," says analyst Bob Wheeler of The Linley Group .
Pretty much the only other option is from switch-chipmaker Dune Networks . Called Spaui, it's backwards compatible with the XAUI interface. That might give it a leg up on Interlaken, but Dune is lacking in the backed-by-Cisco department. (See Dune Neworks, Altera Team and Dune, Bay Support Spaui.)
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading