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Comms chips

Internet Machines Takes Aim at Zettacom

On Monday (10 September) Internet Machines Corp. plans to unveil a trio of chips that could give rival startup ZettaCom Inc. serious pause for thought.

Comparisons between the two companies seem justified. Both are making a big deal out of offering a package of chips that will help vendors of multiservice provisioning platforms (MSPPs) speed up their time to market considerably (see Zettacom: Hurry Up and Wait).

The package is based around a network processor chip, a traffic manager chip and a switch fabric. Using only these three types of chip, it is possible to build a system that supports any kind of traffic, whether circuit, cell or packet-based, both vendors claim.

Internet Machines will be revealing details of its products for the first time next week. The first member of the product family to ship will be the SE200. This is an OC192 (10 Gbit/s) fabric that supports 16 ports of OC192 traffic, and scales to 64 ports using multiple chips. It is priced at $2,975 in production quantities, and will be available before the end of the year.

This is where differences between the two companies start to become apparent. Zettacom's switch chip only supports 4 ports of OC192, giving it one quarter of the density of Internet Machines' product. "It would take Zettacom 20 chips to provide the functionality of one SE200 chip," claims Chris Hoogenboom, Internet Machine's founder, president and CEO.

As an aside, Zettacom sells its switch fabric, called ZEST-200, as multiple chips grouped together. The "200" in the two part numbers do not indicate products of equal bandwidth.

The other two chips from Internet Machines are the network processor, NPE10, and traffic manager, TMC10. Both support full-duplex OC192 wire-speed processing. That capability sets Internet Machines apart from the crowd, says Hoogenboom.

It's worth pointing out that Zettacom also claims to support full-duplex OC192 at wire speed, but only for simple layer 2-4 switching and routing. That's probably because its network processor is "configurable" rather than "programmable". In other words, Zettacom's chip is based around hardwired functions rather than microprocessor cores that carry out instructions.

Paul Liesenberg, Zettacom's company's VP of strategic marketing says that the decision to offer simple packet forwarding only is a sensible one. "Let's face it, not every core and edge router will be doing deep-packet-lookup based routing -- not now, not ever." Concentrating on the more predictable forwarding functionality makes it possible to achieve wire speed far more cheaply, he adds.

What's more, it doesn't force the company to go head to head with the gorillas in the network processor space, such as IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) "Standing straight in the path of the proverbial 800-lbs gorilla trying to steal its favorite banana is not a wise idea for a start-up."

Liesenberg also points out that Zettacom is further along in its development, which is not something to be sniffed at. It is "the first and only company to deliver a true 10Gbit/s traffic manager and switch fabric to real paying customers," he claims. Zettacom's network processor is still under development, but should be sampling early in 2002 (see ZettaCom Advances With ZEST (& ZEN)).

Hoogenboom concedes that the above comparisons are not entirely fair since Zettacom has product and Internet Machines does not. "They chose a much lower level of performance and integration for their first products than we did, and it has enabled them to introduce a lower performance product sooner," he notes. "I look forward to seeing their next generation products."

Internet Machines is bit cagey about when it will start sampling its traffic manager and network processor chips. At first Hoogenboom didn't want to give a date, but when pressed he plumped for "early next year".

Comparisons aside, there are some more pressing questions to ask Internet Machines, says Linley Gwennap, principle analyst with The Linley Group. "Can chips handle real-world workloads at 10Gbps? Can the startup deliver three complex chips on schedule? And can it outsell established networking giants such as Agere Systems (NYSE: AGR), Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (AMCC) (Nasdaq: AMCC), and Intel."

Internet Machines recently received $41 million in funding, lead by Exar Corp. (Nasdaq: EXAR) (see Exar Teams Up on 10-Gig Chips).

— Pauline Rigby, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com
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routerjock 12/4/2012 | 7:51:50 PM
re: Internet Machines Takes Aim at Zettacom Aren't these a bunch of ex-Xylan guys... the same guys who built yesterday's technology tomorrow? I would be suspect of them...
tonkajoe 12/4/2012 | 7:51:49 PM
re: Internet Machines Takes Aim at Zettacom You mean these guys?

http://www.crossbeamsystems.co...

All they need is Mr. Nobjob and they're good to go.
jamesoid 12/4/2012 | 7:51:45 PM
re: Internet Machines Takes Aim at Zettacom Which guys are the same?
Crossbeam
Management Team
Stephen Justus, President
Allen Zubatkin, Vice President of Operations
Mike Akerman, Vice President of Engineering
Marc Bridge, Vice President of Sales for North America
Throop Wilder, Vice President of Marketing
Kurt Reiss, Ph.D, Director of Product Management
John Burke, Director of Customer Service
Ellen Mondro, Director of Marketing
Amy Donahue, Director of Finance and Administration

Internet Machines
Management Team
Chris Hoogenboom, founder, chairman, president and chief executive officer
Frank P. Knuettel, II, founder, chief financial officer and vice president of operations
Chris Haywood, vice president of engineering
Aloke Gupta, vice president of marketing
Brian Fitzgerald, vice president of sales

Board of Directors
Chris Hoogenboom, chairman of the board, president and CEO, Internet Machines
Frank P. Knuettel, II, founder, chief financial officer and vice president of operations, Internet Machines
Donald L. Ciffone, Jr., president and chief executive officer, Exar Corporation
Richard Nottenburg, president and chief executive officer, Multilink Technology Corporation

Technical Advisory Board
Scott Bradner, senior technical consultant, Harvard Office of the Provost
Brent Bilger, entrepreneur-in-residence, US Venture Partners
Jim Greenberg, chief technology officer and co-founder, MediaCenters
James T. McManus, investor and industry expert, former vice president of systems engineering for UUNET
routerjock 12/4/2012 | 7:51:45 PM
re: Internet Machines Takes Aim at Zettacom Hey they had some great software, but the hardware always sucked and lagged the competition - Bay, Cisco, etc.

Software was good though...

Perhaps I should have said, "Yesterday's hardware tomorrow (because they were always late)."

The Internet Machines People are a bunch of Xylan's hardware engineers.
emma 12/4/2012 | 7:51:39 PM
re: Internet Machines Takes Aim at Zettacom Crossbeam is actually a bunch of ex-Bay guys who went to Xylan to work on their M3:1:0 RAS blade (finished project - left Xylan). They were all based out on the East Coast.

IM is actually a group of the CEO's friends and former colleagues. The VP of engineering is actually his brother in law, and he went to college with the CFO. The bulk of the engineering team are ASIC guys from Xylan.

Emma
skeptic 12/4/2012 | 7:51:38 PM
re: Internet Machines Takes Aim at Zettacom Hey they had some great software, but the hardware always sucked and lagged the competition - Bay, Cisco, etc.

Software was good though...
-------------

What about their software was "great"? As a
router, it just plain didn't work. As an ATM
switch, it was usable (but slow) but certainly
nothing spectacular.

ktebben 12/4/2012 | 7:51:33 PM
re: Internet Machines Takes Aim at Zettacom Chris Hoogenboom of Internet Machines responds:

The SE200 device is marketed by IMC conservatively as a "200 Gbps Switch Element".
If we were to compute its performance as suggested in the article, it would in fact be rated as a "400 Gbps Switch Element". So contrary to the article's characterization, we in fact took the high road in rating it based on its full-duplex capacity. The article is correct that many vendors in the industry do tend to over-inflate their performance by counting half-duplex capacity and thereby doubling their claimed
throughput. Internet Machines is not such a vendor. In fact, our NPE10 device and TMC10 device are also each marketed as "10 Gbps full duplex processors" which is also using the more conservative performance rating method.

With regards to comparisons of Internet Machines to Zettacom, in general, a performance switch fabric using IMC's SE200 and TMC10 devices uses far fewer components than the equivalent solution from Zettacom using their QM, TM, LXS, LXI and 3rd party SERDES devices.

Regarding comparisons of Internet Machines to Onex, Onex is currently working on an OC-48 chipset. We do not see them as a competitor in the OC-192 product space, although they may become one at a future date.

Chris Hoogenboom
President and CEO
Internet Machines Corp.
ktebben 12/4/2012 | 7:51:33 PM
re: Internet Machines Takes Aim at Zettacom The SE200 device is marketed by IMC conservatively as a "200 Gbps Switch Element".
If we were to compute its performance as suggested in the article, it would in fact be rated as a "400 Gbps Switch Element". So contrary to the article's characterization, we in fact took the high road in rating it based on its full-duplex capacity. The article is correct that many vendors in the industry do tend to over-inflate their performance by counting half-duplex capacity and thereby doubling their claimed
throughput. Internet Machines is not such a vendor. In fact, our NPE10 device and TMC10 device are also each marketed as "10 Gbps full duplex processors" which is also using the more conservative performance rating method.

With regards to comparisons of Internet Machines to Zettacom, in general, a performance switch fabric using IMC's SE200 and TMC10 devices uses far fewer components than the equivalent solution from Zettacom using their QM, TM, LXS, LXI and 3rd party SERDES devices.

Regarding comparisons of Internet Machines to Onex, Onex is currently working on an OC-48 chipset. We do not see them as a competitor in the OC-192 product space, although they may become one at a future date.

Chris Hoogenboom
President and CEO
Internet Machines Corp.
Pauline Rigby 12/4/2012 | 7:48:32 PM
re: Internet Machines Takes Aim at Zettacom In the original story, there were some misunderstandings about ways of comparing and measuring switch capacity. I've updated the story to correct this.

I also simplified things by taking out the part about Onex Communications, as I have since heard that the Onex solution will only operate at 2.5 not 10 Gbit/s. Therefore its not really competiting.

[email protected]
Facts4GoodGuy 12/4/2012 | 7:43:05 PM
re: Internet Machines Takes Aim at Zettacom Silk, with a shity switch, founded by a mechanical engineering professor, wants to compete in the market.
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