SAN JOSE -- Lara Technology Inc. here this week announced a new name, Lara Networks Inc., focusing attention on its silicon-based search engine technology.
The change is part of a larger transformation for the three-year-old company. In January, Lara Technology spun off its VoIP Switching Systems Division into a privately held company, EmpowerTel Networks. Venture funding totaling $54 million came from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Sony, and others. Ajit Medhekar, chairman of Lara Technology, is chairman of both Lara Networks and EmpowerTel Networks.
Lara was the second company this week to change its name to reflect a network market strategy. 8x8 Inc., which is concentrating on voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) silicon, is now Netergy Networks Inc. (see March 27 story). Lara Networks aims to become a broad-based supplier of network solutions for the Internet infrastructure market.
"We did this to focus the two areas of expertise," said Anand Desai, director marketing at Lara Networks. "It became apparent that in order for us to really take advantage of the demand for bandwidth and processing power, we needed to really home in on our associative processing technology and embed this in our search engine family."
Lara Networks currently offers a family of network applications processors (NAP), which includes network database search engines, co-processors, packet classification processors, and subsystem solutions using a patent-pending associative processing technology (APT), which Lara calls SuperCAM.
Network processing bandwidth requirements are outpacing the current crop of network processors and embedded processors. Lara's search co-processors take the load off the network processor and conduct searches as fast as 66 million to 83 million per second of a table that may contain up to one million addresses, according to the company. The result is faster processing of network requests at unparalleled speeds as much as 15 times faster. Lara's SuperCAM technologu searches a whole table in a single cycle, rather than line-by-line as with a network processor, so that greater intelligence and speed are possible.
Lara Networks' technology is a new approach to packet processing being adopted to ease this bottleneck, said Shekhar G. Wadekar, vice president of equity research for investment bank Dain Rauscher Wessels. "Lara Networks uses non-intuitive way to address these issues, delivering speed, backward compatibility as well as enabling migration to future standards and protocols," said Wadekar, calling it "a very impressive achievement, considering the company does not strain current semiconductor design and process capabilities."
Lara's chips are fabricated in a straightforward 0.18-micron copper process technology by IBM Microelectronics, said Medhekar.
The company this week introduced the LNI7010 and LNI7020, which are functionally compatible but offer different database capacities and performance levels to address different segments of the Internet infrastructure market.
The LNI7010 is a 64-Kbyte entry network database search engine capable of sustaining 66 million network database transactions per second. It is programmable, enabling the design of high-end routers incorporating the latest network protocols, while still supporting legacy standards, Lara said.
The LNI7020 can be configured to support network database entry sizes of 34, 68, 136, or 272 bits. This device accelerates network protocols such as CIDR (Longest Prefix Match), ARP, MPLS and other layer 2, 3 and 4 protocols. Lara Networks is positioning this chip as a flagship to provide search solutions for high-end Internet switches and routers.
Lara Networks is looking to convert users of custom ASICs in these systems, which need greater search depth for Internet-based applications. It is also targeting high-end SRAMs, which are used in large quantities for table lookups. Desai believes Lara's single-cycle, single-chip solution will allow faster response, and scale as table sizes increase.
"In pricing, a solution with our chip set is lower cost than an SRAM," he said."
There is no doubt about the growing need for intelligence and bandwidth on the network, especially within the technology infrastructure," said Fred McClimans, chairman and chief analyst of competitive intelligence firm Current Analysis in Sterling, Va. "With Lara Networks' evolving product offering and revamped corporate focus, the company stands better positioned to meet this demand, and ultimately achieve success in this arena."