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Comms chips

Infineon's Got Framers for Everyone

Infineon Technologies AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: IFX) is doing the trendy thing --taking a step back to OC3 and OC12 speeds.

Today, the company announced the Tethys family of Sonet/SDH Framer chips, which are targeted at lower-speed markets (see Infineon Intros Sonet/SDH Framers).

The Tethys 448 is based on technology used in the company's Titan framer chip, which began with the 2001 acquisition of Catamaran Communications, but it targets line speeds as low as OC3 (155 Mbit/s). At its peak, the device's 16 ports can each support one OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s) and can channelize them down to 768 STS1s (51.8 Mbit/s).

Infineon isn't giving up on higher-end speeds, though. The company is also announcing the Tethys 4192, which is just like the Tethys 448 but can support up to four OC192 (10 Gbit/s) ports. Both chips are due to sample later this quarter.

The moves show a more broad-based approach to the market. Infineon's framer program was orginally intended to target next-generation networking. "We actually produced Titan as our OC768 [40 Gbit/s] chip set," says Srinivas Nimmagadda, Infineon marketing director (see Infineon to Acquire Catamaran, Infineon Touts 40-Gig Chips, and Infineon Ships 40-Gig Chip).

Naturally, few OEMs are concerned about 40-Gbit/s port speeds -- in fact, most designs seem to target 40 Gbit/s of aggregate switching capacity, Nimmagadda says. OC48 line rates are still popular, but line-card designs are also putting renewed emphasis on OC3 and OC12 (622 Mbit/s).

Infineon isn't the only company to notice this. Agere Systems (NYSE: AGR.A) used the OFC tradeshow to tout its Mars line of framers targeting highly channelized OC3 and OC12 lines (the company probably didn't want to tout optics at the show, having just sold that business to TriQuint Semiconductor Inc.). And Nimmagadda says Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (Nasdaq: AMCC) is expected to release a low-speed version of its Mekong framers soon (see AMCC Releases 'Mekong' Chip).

One thing Infineon is not doing is joining the Ethernet-over-Sonet bandwagon, which has been a recent focus for PMC-Sierra Inc. (Nasdaq: PMCS) and startup Ample Communications Inc. (see PMC, TranSwitch Get Edgy and Ample Evangelizes Ethernet). Such chips would be suitable for customer-premises equipment, Nimmagadda says, but Infineon wants the all-TDM Tethys to target carrier equipment.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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