ZettaCom Has Designs on Fujitsu
A source close to the chipmaker says ZettaCom's newest chips, the ZSF500 switch fabric and ZTM552 traffic manager, are designed into Fujitsu's FlashWave 5500, an upcoming IP metro box. Fujitsu may be using ZettaCom's first-generation Z200 switch fabric as well. ZettaCom reportedly won the contract at the expense of AMCC, one of the few vendors shipping comparable chips.
Dollar figures for the deal were not available, but the source said the sales would represent "multiple millions of dollars" -- not bad for chips that sell in the sub-$1,000 range.
ZettaCom officials declined to comment, and Fujitsu and AMCC representatives could not be reached for comment.
The ZSF500 and ZTM552 are designed to handle IP, ATM, and TDM traffic at line speeds of up to 10 Gbit/s (see ZettaCom Unveils Terabit Switch Fabric and ZettaCom Manages Traffic).
Both chips could substantially define the personality of the 5500. The switch fabric -- the central chip that forwards packets to the proper egress port -- is often the starting point that determines the architecture of a switch or router. And the traffic manager, which controls and prioritizes the queues leading into a switch fabric, is a complex device that many vendors say is necessary for implementing quality of service (QOS) at high speeds (see Traffic Manager Chips).
ZettaCom's chipset is "probably one of the most integrated and lowest power in the market," says Jeremy Bunting, a semiconductor analyst with Thomas Weisel Partners, although he added that AMCC's appears to be the only comparable chipset shipping.
Bunting hadn't heard about the Fujitsu win but says it's feasible that incumbent equipment providers would talk with ZettaCom. "I would expect them to continue to gain traction. I'm not surprised if they were talking design wins."
To date, ZettaCom's done very little talking, aside from a few mumbles about multiple design wins with anonymous high-profile OEMs. It's been a frustrating market for the chip vendors still standing in this space: Many say they've scored major design wins, but they also say they're sworn to silence by customers (see Net Processors Brace for Shakeout).
The Fujitsu win, if true, could be a tremendous boost for ZettaCom. Dozens of startups have tackled network processors and related chips, only to be felled by the combined blows of recession and overpopulation, and the short lifespans in this sector have made OEMs skittish about working with small companies. Even so, competition continues to brew, particularly in the area of switch fabrics (see Switch Fabric Chips Rewrite the Rules, Intel Backs Another Switch Chip and Tau Touts Cheap Switch Fabric).
ZettaCom was founded to develop a whole suite of packet-switching silicon, including network processors, switch fabrics, and a traffic management chip. The network processor was scrapped, a victim of the telecom recession, but ZettaCom continues to sell the other chips.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
Want to know more? The big cheeses of the optical networking industry will be discussing network processors at LightSpeed Europe. Check it out at http://www.lightspeedeurope.com.