MSPPs, MSSPs Merging (Sort of)
Equipment vendors have begun work on architectures intended to cover both the multiservice switching platform (MSSP) and the multiservice provisioning platform (MSPP). This doesn't mean the two will be merged into one box; rather, the goal is to have one hardware skeleton that adapts to fit MSSP or MSPP characteristics.
Design work on the new architecture is just beginning, the first evidence being a marketing alliance announced today between chip vendors Xelerated Inc. and Infineon Technologies AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: IFX). (See Xelerated, Infineon Team on Transport.) The new systems won't surface for another year or more, says Gary Lidington, Xelerated VP of marketing.
The partnership stems from one customer using Xelerated's 10-Gbit/s network processor, the X10q, with Infineon's yet-unannounced 10-Gbit/s Sonet framer. That design is still early in development, and the chip vendors aren't saying whom the work is for.
The Xelerated-Infineon alliance has the companies jointly marketing into the MSSP-MSPP space, with Infineon holding an exclusive license to resell the X10q into that sector. The companies will develop reference designs involving the unannounced Infineon Sonet framer as well as its Frea framer for 10-Gbit/s Resilient Packet Ring Technology transport (see Infineon Preps RPR Chip).
At Supercomm this week, the companies will be demonstrating interoperability between the X10q and Frea.
MSPPs and MSSPs are updated versions of add/drop multiplexers and digital crossconnects, respectively (see The Death & Life of Sonet/SDH). Both are beginning to incorporate data functionality as well. That's making them look more similar, even though they sit at different spots in the network – MSPPs closer to the edge, MSSPs closer to the core.
Equipment vendors are "trying to keep a lot of the same design investment in the two, making these two the same platform but different sizes," Lidington says. It's the sort of thing for which the network processor was envisioned: a programmable platform that can be turned to different purposes.
This could be the first step for the MSSP and MSPP to merge into one platform (MSSSPP?!!), but that kind of change seems at least one generation away. "It's feasible, but is the practicality there? I'm not sure we're ready to do that yet, only because companies have spent millions of dollars to develop products that focus on one or the other," says Sam Greenholtz, an analyst with Telecom Pragmatics Inc.
Startup Mangrove Systems Inc. is looking at something along the lines of a merged design, but Lidington says the idea is really being pushed by incumbent vendors. "We're seeing most of the activity on the established guys. There aren't a lot of startups left here," he says. (For more on Mangrove, see MPLS Arrives in Access Nets.)
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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