SAN MATEO, Calif. Network processor startup Onex Communications Corp. (Bedford, Mass.) is developing an all-in-one "service processor" to forward TDM, packet or cell traffic natively, as well as a single-chip switching fabric.
Like many other companies weathering the communications slump, Onex is aiming to let carriers shift gradually to an Internet Protocol (IP) network rather than replace the legacy time-division networks that continue to grow. "Although everyone has wanted to leap to the next level, TDM is something we can't ignore," said Olivia Hecht, Onex director of marketing.
With that in mind, the company's service processor is intended to add IP onto an existing TDM network, as opposed to forcing service providers to create an overlay IP network, Hecht said.
Onex is pursuing an all-in-one approach, combining packet forwarding on a single chip with functions such as traffic management and classification. This chip feeds into a single-chip switching fabric on a separate switch card; arbitration between the line card and switch card is handled inside the service processor.
The chip uses processor cores from Tensilica Inc. to handle both control and data functions on the service processor. Tensilica cores were chosen for their "high degree of portability," Hecht said. One core handles control functions, while four others are programmed for the native transport of TDM, packet and cell data.
This allows any service to be carried on any router port. In addition to flexibility, Onex is touting granularity, claiming to differentiate packetized traffic at the STS-1 (51-Mbit/second) level or cell-based traffic down to the VT 1.5 (1.7-Mbit/s) level.
Onex's processors will be programmable in C, with source code provided to users for customization. "Each vendor might have a different view of what they want to do in their system," said Subhash Roy, chief technical officer.
In addition to software for programming the service processor, Onex will provide software simulators that operate at the API level, which will aid in testing how the part will behave inside a complete system, Roy said.
Onex plans to release details on its chips in October and is hoping to have demonstrations at the Next Generation Networks conference in November.