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Broadcom debuts switch SoCs for carriers, data centres

Posted: 20 Mar 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Broadcom  Cisco Systems  data centre  switch  processor 

"That shouldn't have been any mystery," said Wheeler, suggesting Broadcom did a poor job of due diligence on the deal, its largest acquisition ever.

Dune deal giving Broadcom benefits

In contrast with NetLogic, the Dune acquisition in late 2009 was more in line with Broadcom's practice of snapping up a relatively small, young player. Broadcom has done a good job evolving Dune's high-end switch fabric chips into full packet processors and Ethernet switches, giving them a broader set of targets.

"The Dune acquisition turned out to be really strong from a technology stand point," said Wheeler. "They still have no competition in merchant switch fabrics, it's only the OEM internal ASICs," he said.

The chips include 400G Interlaken interfaces, the fastest links on any Broadcom chip to date, said, Nick Kucharewski, a VP of marketing at Broadcom. They also support the 25G interfaces data centres have demanded.

The chips target a growing range of high-end Ethernet systems at carriers and data centres, Kucharewski said. For example, OEMs will be able to use them to make systems that combine optical transport network and carrier Ethernet capabilities in a single chassis.

Other engineers could use them in aggregation switches, packing up to 72 ports of 10GE at the edge of wired or wireless networks. Still others could use the chips to create a single switch design that could serve traffic inside or between big data centres with new levels of buffering, he said.

The key for many of the designs is the mix of high bandwidth and programmability. Such a mix is welcome among telecom engineers building systems geared for big software-defined networks and network functions virtualisation, the big buzzwords in comms.

Broadcom provides production code for engineers who don't want to hassle with the complexity of doing the programming themselves. That's a great service, bit raises another interesting question given semiconductor companies typically have trouble getting compensated for their efforts delivering complex software.

- Rick Merritt
  EE Times

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