Optical/IP Networks

Chip Firms Target IP DSLAMs

Having built a position in the Gigabit Ethernet switching silicon market, Swedish chip vendor SwitchCore AB (Stockholm: SCOR) has now entered the IP DSLAM market with a new product, the Xpeedium2pro (see SwitchCore Launches Xpeedium2pro).

The move is logical, given industry trends. Sales of Ethernet-enabled DSLAMs, or IP DSLAMs, are increasing, and many carriers are shifting from the traditional ATM-based infrastructure towards an IP-based architecture, so creating an opening for Ethernet switch component firms to target the DSLAM manufacturers. (See BSNL Uses UTStarcom's IP DSLAMs, Neuf: Time Is Right for IPTV, Alcatel Cancels New Litespan DLC, Alcatel Wins $1.7B SBC Deal, and Lucent Lands IP DSLAM Deal.)

SwitchCore's marketing VP, Mike Farnam, says his firm's designs have been used in DSLAMs designed by Korean manufacturer Dasan Networks Inc., a key Ethernet access partner of Siemens Communications Group (see Siemens Presents Ethernet DSL Strategy and Siemens Wins Carrier Ethernet Contract).

"A lot of the functionality we've developed has come from working with Dasan and other DSLAM companies that have been at the forefront of IP DSLAM developments," says Farnam. "This has given us an early technical education about the capabilities needed."

According to Infonetics Research Inc., global IP DSLAM equipment sales amounted to nearly $700 million, up 58 percent from 2003, and the research firm believes IP DSLAM sales will account for 69 percent of total DSLAM revenues by 2008, from 14 percent in 2004.

The leading vendors are Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI), and NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY; Tokyo: 6701), according to Infonetics.

SwitchCore's DSLAM move makes particular sense in that its main competitor in the enterprise Ethernet switch market, market leader Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), also launched into the IP DSLAM market in January (see Broadcom Unveils StrataXGS III).

Farnam identifies Broadcom as a key rival in the race to become the dominant supplier of IP switching silicon in the carrier access market, which is now attracting a great deal of attention from the chip vendors (see Agere Dips Into Access and Wintegra Adds DSL Code). Just last week Agere Systems Inc. (NYSE: AGR.A) announced that IP DSLAM vendor Corecess Inc. is to use its APP300 network processor to help deliver triple-play service capabilities to carriers (see Agere Launches Access Processor Chips).

SwitchCore is also entering the DSLAM market with a significant OEM customer in the form of ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763), a deal won with partner PMC-Sierra Inc. (Nasdaq: PMCS), which provides linecard components designed to integrate easily with SwitchCore's Ethernet switching technology (see PMC-Sierra Unveils IP DSLAM Chip).

So what has SwitchCore got to offer? Farnam says it has transferred the QOS and traffic management capabilities developed for its Ethernet switch products to the Xpeedium2pro, claiming the product can support 4,000 subscribers in one switch, "a substantial leap from current products that support up to 1,000 subscribers."

In addition, Farnam says existing IP DSLAMs deploy network processors that "are more limited in their bandwidth capabilities and which are more expensive."

The introduction of products such as the Xpeedium2pro might provide an opportunity for Ethernet equipment companies such as Allied Telesyn International Inc. to develop dedicated IP DSLAMs in addition to their multiservice platform products, according to Farnam.

Infineon's Geminax
Another chipset firm with a story for the IP DSLAM manufacturers is Infineon Technologies AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: IFX), which has been undergoing dramatic corporate changes of late (see Infineon Chips Away).

Christian Wolff, head of Infineon's wireline access business unit, says the company has been shipping ADSL2 and ADSL2+ chips since late 2003, "but there is still plenty of work to be done on improving system costs, so we've been analyzing where silicon companies can help."

The result is a product, called the Geminax Pro, which increases the density and reduces the power consumption and cooling requirements of an ADSL2+ linecard. This allows a carrier to either decrease the number of linecards deployed and still provision the same number of lines, or serve more connections from the existing DSLAM chassis (see Infineon Cools off ADSL2+).

Wolff claims the secret sauce behind this is a technology called "pulse width modulation," the basis of the product's special "Class D" line driver, which automatically determines the reach of the DSL connection. He says this product, which goes into mass production later this year, is the first to incorporate Class D technology.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

Light Reading has just published a new report – Who Makes What: IP DSLAMs – prefatory to a comprehensive Heavy Reading study and a directory of this rapidly developing market. It includes an interactive survey, enabling readers to share their views on the requirements IP DSLAM suppliers should be expected to meet. You may read the report here.

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