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Optical/IP

Bay's ATM Chip Heads Into Battle

An obsession with technology is about to pay off for network processor vendor Bay Microsystems Inc., which has scored an unusual design win with the U.S. government.

Bay and its competitors tend to sell to equipment makers, not to network owners directly. But Hank Dardy, chief technical adviser for IT and computation at the U.S. Naval Research Labs, liked the fact that Bay's Montego chip incorporated a component called a SAR (Segmentation and Reassembly), something that's still a relative rarity at OC192 speeds.

The SAR isn't really as painful as it sounds. Basically, it helps take apart or put together ATM traffic streams. So it's required on either end of a transmision line. Bay's integrated network processor and high-speed SAR put it in an elite category of bulked-up, ATM-ready network chips.

The government's users -- including the Department of Defense and other agencies that Chuck Gershman, Bay CEO, was skittish about naming [ed. note: they'd have to kill him?] -- are on an ATM network that's being upgraded to OC192. Rather than switch to something like Internet Protocol (IP), the government is sticking with ATM, having enlisted General Dynamics Corp. to craft a proprietary security chip for ATM that handles encryption purely at Layer 1.

"They said they had been looking for something like this for the better part of a year. They were thinking it didn't exist," says Gershman.

Dardy confirms that he had been seeking the necessary pieces of the OC192 network. He also says that, while some companies -- like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) -- have their own ATM SARs at that speed, it appears no merchant chips other than Bay's fit the task.

Most network processors claim to have ATM support, but Bay looks to be on the cutting edge of OC192 capabilities. "Out of all of them, Bay has a very strong solution," says John Metz, president of consulting firm Metz International.

If Montego really is that good, it's because Bay emphasized ATM from the start, having never believed in the all-IP network. While most network processors were engineered with Internet Protocol in mind, Bay chose an approach that concentrated on multiservice networks and the existing ATM infrastructure.

"We just saw that this other model was there," Gershman says. No other network processor company seemed interested in ATM, except for Agere Systems (NYSE: AGR/A) -- the spinoff from Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) (see Lucent Christens Its Spinoff).

Given its goals, Bay needed to build a processor that could handle massively channelized traffic while keeping ATM circuits intact. As a result, Montego juggles thousands of queues based on destination. In contrast, Gershman says, an IP box might accommodate thousands of microflows but will send traffic to just a handful of "next-step" destinations.

Luckily for Bay, the legacy networks won out over the IP-based CLECs, creating unexpected demand for ATM and even Fibre Channel (see The New Legacy Network). That's brought ATM into the sights of larger network-processor players such as IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) (see S3 Adds ATM for IBM)

"Agere was one of the first ones to come out [with ATM support], and that was their strength," Metz says. "Now everybody is gunning for them."

Bay hasn't had an easy time of it. Bay missed its original target of mid-2001 (see Network Processors Proliferate), and the dramatic effort to finish its chip became the subject of a week-long feature series in the San Jose Mercury News. The first samples of Montego finally arrived last March (see Bay Joins the Big Leagues), and Bay was demonstrating OC192 capabilities by May.

Bay's win will also include a set of network-interface cards for connecting supercomputers directly to the ATM network, something that's easily crafted using the startup's existing technology, Gershman says. The government is even interested in seeing what Bay can do at OC768 (40 Gbit/s). "There is a strategic pull in certain organizations to move the technology forward, if you find the right people."

Bay will be giving a hint of its technology at SC2002, the supercomputing conference in Baltimore next week. The startup will be in the Marconi plc (Nasdaq/London: MONI) booth with an elaborate setup connecting SGI supercomputers to a Marconi ATM switch at OC192 speeds.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
www.lightreading.com

Want to know more? The big cheeses of the optical networking industry will be discussing multiservice switching at LightSpeed Europe. Check it out at http://www.lightspeedeurope.com.



Page 1 / 3   >   >>
mechanic 12/4/2012 | 9:20:57 PM
re: Bay's ATM Chip Heads Into Battle Another feather in the cap of the Marconi BFS team. OC192c is such cool technology.

Way to go!

walter_100 12/4/2012 | 9:20:40 PM
re: Bay's ATM Chip Heads Into Battle it really lacks adoption in the modern day world.
I wonder apart from the Govt who else would be interested.
broadbandboy 12/4/2012 | 9:20:40 PM
re: Bay's ATM Chip Heads Into Battle walter_100 wrote: "it really lacks adoption in the modern day world. I wonder apart from the Govt who else would be interested."

Probably nobody, except maybe a few RBOCs, IXCs, Wireless operators, PTTs, etc. (grin)


BBboy
Off_the_shelf 12/4/2012 | 9:20:37 PM
re: Bay's ATM Chip Heads Into Battle Hey walter_100,
"it really lacks adoption in the modern day world.
I wonder apart from the Govt who else would be interested."
------------------
Every carrier in the world (that counts) is looking for this technology. I doubt even Cisco really has it. If this thing really works, Hurray! Maybe there can be some life in the telecom market.
indsavvy 12/4/2012 | 9:20:36 PM
re: Bay's ATM Chip Heads Into Battle you really lack an understanding of where the industry is at presently with comments like this. The modern day world is an ATM infrastructure dummy. The promise of IP-everything never materialized and won't for the foreseeable future.

Get with the program sport and do some research before posting. Your credibility is shot!

-savvy
fw23 12/4/2012 | 9:20:27 PM
re: Bay's ATM Chip Heads Into Battle >it really lacks adoption in the modern day world.
>I wonder apart from the Govt who else would be >interested.

Since the government is one of the few things
spending money right now, there will be a high
amount of interest.

The problem is that nobody is going to figure
out until its way too late that it would have
been better for the government to fund a new
encryption device than roll out high-speed ATM
all over the world.

MrLight 12/4/2012 | 9:20:26 PM
re: Bay's ATM Chip Heads Into Battle In terms of the article statement, ""They said they had been looking for something like this for the better part of a year. They were thinking it didn't exist," says Gershman."

Clearly because as all peoplr who have worked on ATM know - ATM SAR and AAL (ATM Adaptation Layer) faster than at an OC-12/STM-4 622Mbps rate is difficult to do in hard-wired silicon. An NPU would have some advantages in this area if parallelism could be properly exploited. Which I assume Bay has done. It will be interesing to see how much memory they will have on such a card for ingress and egress queuing.

It isn't clear to me if General Dynamics Corp. is providing the proprietary security chip for ATM and it " handles encryption purely at Layer 1.", what chip will be doing the AAL, and which AAL it will be, but I am assuming variable bit rate.

Well good for Bay Microsystems that they were able to find an initial application for their NPU.

In regards to "Luckily for Bay, the legacy networks won out over the IP-based CLECs, creating unexpected demand for ATM and even Fibre Channel". Well ATM and frame relay still would haved formed the core of the telecom carrier's data private-line network for quite a while, so the "Luckily" is irrelevant when it comes to this application. However, the first incremental increase I expected for ATM trunking was to OC-48 and not OC-192c, so where are the OC-48 ATM ICs in all this?

MrLight :-), shedding light on ATM
teng100 12/4/2012 | 9:20:25 PM
re: Bay's ATM Chip Heads Into Battle "Clearly because as all peoplr who have worked on ATM know - ATM SAR and AAL (ATM Adaptation Layer) faster than at an OC-12/STM-4 622Mbps rate is difficult to do in hard-wired silicon. An NPU would have some advantages in this area if parallelism could be properly exploited. Which I assume Bay has done. It will be interesing to see how much memory they will have on such a card for ingress and egress queuing."

ASIC and NPU are equally capable of doing parallelism.

I would assume it is channelized OC192 instead of
OC192c and it is difficult to achieve that by using so called "parallelism" of many NPU........
Any commects.......
BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 9:20:22 PM
re: Bay's ATM Chip Heads Into Battle There are severe dispersion problem with OC-768. This makes OC-768 unusable. It is not an approprate nether for the nor the edge.
mrcasual 12/4/2012 | 9:20:21 PM
re: Bay's ATM Chip Heads Into Battle "Clearly because as all peoplr who have worked on ATM know - ATM SAR and AAL (ATM Adaptation Layer) faster than at an OC-12/STM-4 622Mbps rate is difficult to do in hard-wired silicon. An NPU would have some advantages in this area if parallelism could be properly exploited.

This was obviously written by someone who doesn't understand
NPUs.

AAL5 reassembly, while not trivial at OC-192 speeds, is
actually relatively easy compared to NPU design. All you
need to do is keep track of linked lists of ATM cells and
manage the residual CRC-32s (so that you can reassemble
multiple packets at once) and you are pretty much done.

You can brute force an implementation very easily. If
you are trying to be very memory efficient (i.e. use
as few devices as possible) then it gets more tricky
but still not hard to do.

A "real" NPU, i.e. a fully programmable thing that does
packet lookups, edits, doesn't reorder packets, etc., now
that is much, much, much harder to do.

Whether it is 192 or 192c, since all of the framer devices
out there interleave cells on the interface it's not
really any harder to do one or the other. AAL5 SAR is
just not that hard to do.
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