SUNNYVALE, Calif. ( ChipWire) -- Ardent Technologies Inc., a semiconductor startup here, will dive into commodity Layer 2 routing this week, hoping to compete in the areas of integration and price.
Ardent aims to hit the mainstream of the LAN market rather than chase the complex problem of Layer 3 routing. It faces big-name competition, however, in the rapidly commoditizing Layer 2 arena.
Ardent plans to release three chips, each supporting two ports of Gigabit Ethernet and up to 24 ports of Fast Ethernet (100 Mbits/second). "Our main distinction is a very high level of integration," said Shrikant Sathe, vice president of marketing. "These devices are specifically optimized for this Layer 2 switching market."
Other "24-plus-2" chips could stand in Ardent's way. Broadcom Corp. claims to have a 24+2 matrix -- albeit at a higher price with the inclusion of Layer 3 switching capabilities -- integrated on its StrataSwitch BCM5600, introduced last year.
And efforts are under way to move beyond 24+2 routers. Galileo Technology Ltd. in San Jose has been showing a multichip 48+2 router, packed in a 1U pizza box. "What we're doing is moving the sweet spot from 24+X to 48+X," said Barry Gray, Galileo's director of product marketing.
Ardent is aiming for a more commoditized sector and has priced its chips accordingly, Sathe said. The 24+2 chip, named the GeNX 2.24, sells for $60 in volume. The GeNX 2.16, with 16 Fast Ethernet ports, is $50; and the GeNX 2.12, with 12 Fast Ethernet ports, is $45.
Samples of all three are available now. Volume shipments are set to begin in the fourth quarter.