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Fulcrum adds routing ability to 10Gbps Ethernet switches

Posted: 07 Nov 2007     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:10G Ethernet switches  Fibre Channel  Infiniband 

Fulcrum Microsystems is rounding out its family of 10Gbps data Ethernet switches for the data centre with new devices that add on routing capabilities. The company has also announced a design win with a new startup emerging from stealth mode.

The FocalPoint FM4000 chips add a variety of layer three and four routing features to the existing FM2000-class PHY switches. The new chips also support congestion management features such as access control lists, backward congestion notification and class-based traffic pause in an effort to gain an edge on Fibre Channel and Infiniband interconnects.

Standards groups are still defining congestion management standards for Ethernet as part of an effort to run Fibre Channel protocols. "There is a lot of programmability in our algorithms, but when all the dust settles we will have to rev our chips for the emerging standards," said Mike Zeile, VP of marketing for Fulcrum.

The FM4000 series can parse up to 128bytes of data and can be linked together to support fat-tree and clos networking architectures. The chips will cost about Rs.1,011.21 ($25) per port and have about 300ns latency, up from about Rs.808.97 ($20)/port and 200ns latency for the simpler, existing parts.

The chips support up to 24 10Gbit links as well as a mix of GbE connections. Fulcrum uses novel asynchronous circuit designs developed at Cal Tech to create the 130nm parts that dissipate just 1W per port.

"We are getting the same power consumption as Broadcom although we are using a process generation behind their current products," said Zeile.

Startup Arastra Inc., founded by Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim, will use the chips in its 1U-sized 48-port DX7100 system. The stackable aggregation switch will consume just 12W and cost Rs.16,179.32 ($400) on a per-port basis.

The DX7100, currently in beta trials, will run applications and agents developed by users based on the startup's API. The switch will ship in early 2008.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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