AUSTIN, Texas A five-port transceiver from Accelerant Networks Inc., optimized for noisy backplane environments, is said to deliver 6.25-Gbit/second peak bandwidth for each port, or roughly 25 Gbits of typically available bandwidth.
The AN5500 transceiver will go into full production in the third quarter, in the same 0.25-micron process that Accelerant used in its single-port 6.25-Gbit/s device, which is shipping now. The AN5500 draws 4 watts and operates over a limit of four feet of FR-4 wiring board.
Facing today's weak investment climate for core networking equipment, many networking system vendors are choosing to upgrade existing backplanes with faster transceiver silicon an approach that now accounts for more than half of Accelerant's design wins for the AN5500, said Jim Tavacoli, vice president of marketing.
Companies that develop proprietary switch fabric ASICs can upgrade a system's performance by switching to faster transceiver silicon. Also, commercial switch fabric vendors such as Mindspeed, Agere, IBM and Vitesse have supplied silicon to system vendors that can be extended, without the need for a forklift upgrade to a new chassis.
But over the long haul, analysts warn, Accelerant (Beaverton, Ore.) could be squeezed by the move to integrate serializer/deserializers (serdes) on switch fabric architectures. "There's a market window for Accelerant," said Jag Bolaria, senior analyst at The Linley Group (Mountain View, Calif.), "but the trend is toward integrating serdes on the switch."
Within a few years, Bolaria said, Accelerant will need to merge with a switch fabric vendor or extend its own capabilities beyond transceivers.
Tavacoli said the AN5500 supports a faster interface to ASICs, at 625-MHz double data rate, or the equivalent of 1.25 Gbits/s per differential pair.
The device performs equalization and autonegotiation to communicate the available bandwidth, channel noise, amount of signal loss and crosstalk. The channel evaluation function provides instructions to a proprietary algorithm that negotiates the optimum speed per channel.
Tavacoli said customers will use the five available ports in different ways. Some will use four for data and a fifth for redundancy or quality-of-service. Or, five ports can be made to appear as one channel. While peak bandwidth on any port can be 6.25 Gbits/s, typical bandwidth across all five would sum to about 25 Gbits, Accelerant said. Some customers will lock two chips to deliver 50 Gbits/s for higher trunking capabilities.