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Sonet Chips Aim for the Edge

It’s no coincidence that the recent spate of Sonet (Synchronous Optical NETwork) and SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy) edge aggregation equipment announcements has coincided with two other developments -- a similar spate of announcements of chipsets targeting such applications, and the publication of a report from Light Reading Insider, Light Reading’s subscription research service, surveying the latest Sonet/SDH chips.

The spate of chip announcements culminated at the recent Supercomm show when no fewer than four semiconductor manufacturers unveiled new developments:

These chips include support for technologies that make Sonet/SDH more flexible, allowing it to carry data more efficiently. Key to these efforts are GFP (Generic Framing Procedure), Virtual Concatenation (VCAT), and Link Capacity Adjustment Scheme (LCAS). Simply put: The mapping protocol GFP makes Sonet/SDH truly multiprotocol; VCAT enables efficient use of bandwidth; and LCAS allows bandwidth allocation to be adjusted on the fly.

The Light Reading Insider report, published today, points out that the first merchant silicon to support GFP appeared only three years ago. Now there are 30 products in the market for sampling, from ten vendors. The report, by Simon Stanley, founder and principal consultant of Earlswood Marketing Ltd., provides a detailed competitive breakdown of all 30 products, based on tables that compare key characteristics.

The vendors surveyed are:

Key findings of the report include:

  • PMC-Sierra was among the first companies to identify the importance of next-gen Sonet and is now perceived as a leader. In Heavy Reading's 2004 Communications Chips Market Perception Study, it led the rankings on product performance by a huge margin -- 24.6 percent compared to the nearest rival, Vitesse, at 18.5 percent. PMC focuses on low-speed chips for edge aggregation.
  • Several framer/mapper devices, such as PMC-Sierra's PMC5337 -- a chip it announced at Supercomm -- and the the Arrive AT-1300, now integrate the core of a multiservice ADM in a single device. Integration of more functionality should enable equipment makers to develop cheaper Sonet edge equipment.
  • The emergence of "low-order VCAT" will also help push next-generation Sonet towards the edge of the network. This is the ability to support finer-grained VCAT groups for access applications. Infineon's new chip supports 128 VCAT groups, the maximum available to date (see Infineon Showcases Broadband Porfolio. Arrive and Agere also have chips that support 128 VCAT groups.

    — Pauline Rigby, Senior Editor, Light Reading

    Annual subscriptions to Light Reading Insider, comprising 12 monthly reports, start at $1,350 per year. Click here for more information.


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  • Lion 12/5/2012 | 1:28:19 AM
    re: Sonet Chips Aim for the Edge You guys have really forgot a very interessting Danish company called Tpack(www.tpack.com). They seem to be entering this market with a range of EoS chips which a futur proof for GMPLS just be software upgrades. This is going to be big!
    Toad680 12/5/2012 | 1:28:18 AM
    re: Sonet Chips Aim for the Edge The report seems to focus on the perception survey done a couple months back. In that survey Vitesse ranked second. But I don't think it's representative of their perception in EoS. I talked to a lot of vendors at Supercomm this year and Vitesse seemed at best to be an also ran (limited functionality in a cut down chip)--despite their claims that they are dominating the OC-48 market.

    As far as I can tell, PMC and Transwitch are leading the ethernet over sonet race. Transwitch has the only OC-3 mapper in production and think that their 87 design wins gives them an edge at OC-12 as well.

    PMC seems to have quality products on the market with one in production. Their ADM on a chip concept is interesting.

    Anyone designing with any of these products? Any comments?
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