Swedish Startup Promises 'Xeleration'
A new startup has joined a growing band of vendors developing network processors -- a relatively new type of chip that promises to slash the time it takes to build high-performance switches and routers.
The new startup in question -- Sweden’s Xelerated Packet Devices AB -- looks promising, although its name may prove to be a handicap. It risks being confused with Accelerated Networks, a broadband equipment vendor. And the strange spelling of Xelerated -- an attempt at avoiding this confusion -- could make matters even worse (see What’s In a Name? ).
Still, let’s dig into the details. The whole idea behind network processors is to give vendors an off-the-shelf alternative to developing their own ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits), which typically take 18 months and millions of dollars to develop (see Network Processors Proliferate).
Xelerated says that it’s come up with a totally new architecture for network processors -- one that enables them to be programmed for use with a particularly wide range of protocols, including MPLS (multiprotocol label switching), IP Version 6, and “extensive QOS [quality of service] support,” according to Joachim Roos, Xelerated’s Director of Engineering.
At the same time, Roos claims, Xelerated’s chips will match ASIC performances. Specifically, they will support 40-Gbit/s line speeds in their first incarnation and will scale to 160 Gbit/s in the future, he says.
Right now, all of this is theoretical. Xelerated was only set up last August and is a long way from shipping products. Software is scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of next year, and hardware will follow in 2002.
At present, the company only has a staff of 20 (19 of them engineers) and is still living off an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Startupfactory, a Swedish venture capital company.
Still, Xelerated’s staff includes “a lot of very experienced ASIC designers,” according to the company’s CEO, Johan Hellqvist. Hellqvist and Xelerated’s director of business development, Thomas Eklund, come from Switchcore AB, a startup in a related field. Roos headed ASIC development at Net Insight AB, a startup making high-performance switches (see Circuit Switching is Back).
The bringing together of so much talent has sparked a lot of interest in Sweden, according to Hellqvist. “People are applying for jobs just on rumors,” he says. Xelerated is planning on a total of 50 staff and will open a U.S. office sooner or later.
-- Peter Heywood, international editor, Light Reading http://www.lightreading.com