Broadcom Chips Drive Huawei's Huge Switch

LAS VEGAS -- Interop 2012 -- It's just "specsmanship," as Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. R&D head John Roese puts it, but it's still a record-claiming switch that Huawei is showing off on the Interop show floor.

And at the heart of the CloudEngine 12800 series is a Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) chipset, according to multiple Huawei staffers who spoke with Light Reading at the company's booth Tuesday.

The switch family was introduced Tuesday and its largest member is a 12-slot chassis, the CloudEngine 12812, that can support 1,152 10Gbit/s ports or 96 100Gbit/s ports. The chassis is capable of a theoretical 48 Tbit/s, leading Huawei to claim it's got the "largest single-frame switching capacity," as the press release put it. (See Huawei Launches Large Switches.)

As a point of contrast: The Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) BlackDiamond X8, one of the most recent really-big-switches launched, supports 768 10Gbit/s ports and 20 Tbit/s per chassis. (See Extreme Goes Big on Ethernet.)

But those are just numbers, and the title of "largest switch" is likely to change every couple of years. A very big switch is rarely the most practical product in the stable, as Roese admitted in a quick conversation with Light Reading.

But some customers won't take a vendor seriously unless it's chasing the heights of specsmanship. "You've got to have that big switch," says Roese, who knows what it's like to be ignored for not having a big switch.

In that sense, CloudEngine is part of Huawei's push for a share of the U.S. enterprise market, a mission the company launched at the October Interop. Another of Huawei's Tuesday announcements might be even more important: It's signed up its first U.S distributor, Synnex Corp. (See Huawei Adds US Distributor.)

As for the Broadcom switch chips, they're probably the ones designed by Dune Networks, a 2009 Broadcom acquisition. Dune had talked about its switch fabric being able to grow to 100 Tbit/s -- which, if true, would give Huawei and other customers a lot of headroom. (See Broadcom Switch Talks Terabits, Dune Digs In at Broadcom and Dune Scales Switch Chips.)

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

yeahright 12/5/2012 | 5:33:40 PM
re: Broadcom Chips Drive Huawei's Huge Switch

Thanks BRCM, for trying to kill Cisco's switching business with the technology originally learnt from the Cisco itself. Its funny how capitalism works. 

goundan 12/5/2012 | 5:33:37 PM
re: Broadcom Chips Drive Huawei's Huge Switch


Make that [Charlotte Web Networks ---> Dune Networks ---> BRCM] + DCL ---> Huawei.

schlettie 12/5/2012 | 5:33:36 PM
re: Broadcom Chips Drive Huawei's Huge Switch

Extreme's switch was passing traffic at last year's Interop, and is shipping and deployed now.  I don't see any links plugged into that box.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:33:35 PM
re: Broadcom Chips Drive Huawei's Huge Switch

Sorry - neglected to mention: CloudEngine isn't shipping yet. Comes out in Q3, IIRC (I'm going off memory there).

FastCache 12/5/2012 | 5:33:32 PM
re: Broadcom Chips Drive Huawei's Huge Switch

It is a truism that data traffic continues to grow YoY which leads customers to keep a sharp focus on who able to consistently up the ante.

Broadcom and their peers provide an option to source a high end switching chip set instead of requiring in-house investment and development of proprietary solutions.  Easy to imagine that this is proving attractive to many other equipment manufacturers in the industry and hence will increase availability of solutions.  

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