MSPPs Are in the Chips

As multiservice provisioning platforms (MSPPs) gain more favor with carriers, opportunities will emerge for semiconductor vendors to provide some of the multiple personalities that drive these systems.

In particular, new chip markets could arise from the category of data-centric MSPPs, which are defined in "Multiservice Provisioning Platforms: Empowering the Metro Edge," the new report from Heavy Reading, the market research division of Light Reading.

Based on a survey of 28 vendors and 61 MSPPs, the report details the MSPP market and divides it into two camps: transport and data. Transport MSPPs are the descendants of optical add/drop multiplexers (ADMs) and tend to be built around Sonet (Synchronous Optical NETwork) and SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy) architectures, while data MSPPs are packet-switching boxes built with Ethernet and Internet Protocol (IP) in mind.

MSPPs execute many of their tasks in software, but the platforms still offer some intriguing opportunities for chip vendors, particularly on the data side.

On the transport side, chips such as multiprotocol mappers, framers, and media access controllers (MACs) do the work to pack information into Sonet. Minus the multiprotocol part, these are the same chips that powered the Sonet ADMs that preceded MSPPs. More recently, chips have supported Sonet standards such as the Generic Framing Procedure (GFP) and Link Capacity Adjustment Scheme (LCAS) to more efficiently pack Ethernet onto TDM links; these kinds of functions are required as carriers deploy transport MSPPs to migrate Sonet/SDH networks into the packet world (see Next-Gen Sonet Silicon).

Data MSPPs could offer some fresher markets for chip makers. Specifically, to handle TDM traffic, data-based MSPPs would likely need silicon for circuit emulation, also known as TDM over IP, a means of placing T1 or E1 traffic into Ethernet frames. The concept of circuit emulation has been around for a few years, but it's only recently begun standardization efforts and is consequently attracting its share of chip and systems firms (see Redux Revisits RAD and Lycium: It's All in the Timing).

Data MSPPs also will need a way to provide the quality of service lacking in packet architectures, another task likely to fall to the chip level.

Transport-based MSPPs are where the action is for now. Two-thirds of the vendors responding to Heavy Reading's survey have products on the transport side. Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and RAD Data Communications Ltd. have deployed more than 185,000 transport MSPPs combined, whereas data MSPPs barely register on the scale.

Data MSPPs should continue to ramp as Ethernet winds its way into carrier networks, however, and chip makers should find a colorful field of entrants to tap. Heavy Reading found several variations of data MSPPs even at this early stage, including metro Ethernet, Resilient Packet Ring Technology, and multiservice Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) systems.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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