Comms chips

Tough Tasks Await Traffic Managers

The network processor craze has spawned sub-crazes in ancillary chips, traffic managers being a premium example. These are the pieces that manage queues with the end goal of solidifying QOS (quality of service), allowing carriers to guarantee bandwidth rates and charge customers accordingly.

A typical network processor can do some level of traffic management on its own, but it slows down the chip. For high-end boxes, with fast port speeds and large numbers of disparate traffic streams, an external traffic management chip comes in handy.

A new Light Reading report on Traffic Manager Chips explains the silicon that stands behind lofty QOS claims, detailing the complex tasks they face. The report is a sequel to our primer on IP Quality of Service.

Traffic management will also be the subject of a tutorial and panel session at next week's Network Processors Conference in San Jose, Calif.

It's not an easy task, as early entrants discovered. Traffic management specialist Acorn Networks closed up shop last year, and multichip vendor Silicon Access Networks Inc. canceled plans for its own traffic manager. For PMC-Sierra Inc. (Nasdaq: PMCS) and Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: VTSS), the proposition was just too expensive; both sacrificed next-generation traffic management chips as they slashed R&D costs (Vitesse continues to sell OC48 traffic managers).

Of the remaining players, only Azanda Network Devices is a pure traffic-management specialist. Many, such as Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and EZchip Technologies, produced a network processor first, later adding traffic managers to their portfolios. That philosophy extends to startups as well; companies such as Sandburst Corp. and Teradiant Networks Inc. are making sure to include a traffic manager in their chip portfolios.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 9:30:59 PM
re: Tough Tasks Await Traffic Managers Theclaims made by the vendors are somehat exaggerated. The number of traffic managed parameters are so numerous, it is hard to corelate the information and make much practical use. More later on.
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