SAN JOSE, Calif. – Broadcom Corp. is sampling an Ethernet switch chip it claims can deliver throughput of 100 Gbits/second and drive systems supporting up to 100 Terabits/s in some configurations. The BCM88600, aimed at a range of network switching systems, is the first fruit from the company's November 2009 acquisition of Dune Networks.
The chip debuts at a time when eighteen vendors are preparing to demonstrate products compliant with the latest IEEE 802.3ba standard that defines 100 Gbit/s Ethernet. Such systems may be based on in–house ASICs because "this is the first [merchant] device I am aware of that allows 100G full duplex Ethernet," said Eyal Dagan, general manager of Broadcom's network switching group.
The BCM88600 can process a single stream of 100 Gbit/s Ethernet at Layers 2-4 with integrated traffic management capabilities. It provides one 100G and two 40G ports and up to 12 10G or 64 Gigabit ports.
The chip does not include a 40/100G media access controller. Broadcom expects to announces an external 40/100G MAC in a few weeks. In the meantime, designers can use external FPGAs to handle the MAC functions.
The BCM88600 does integrate most of the other elements needed for a line card including a DRAM-based traffic manager, a packet processor and an interface to a Broadcom implementation of a Clos fabric interface with dynamic routing. It uses the Interlaken interface to link to an external 40/100G MAC.
The chip consumes 35W average and 40W max. It could be in production, based on customer orders, in mid-2011. The family includes variants for data centers, enterprise networking, optical transport networks routers and other service provider systems.
The chips are mainly targeted at second-tier switches in large data centers that aggregate data from racks of servers. Today servers mainly use Gbit Ethernet and connect to top-of-rack switches that support 10Gbit Ethernet. But servers are shifting to use of 10Gbit Ethernet on the motherboard which may drive top-of-rack switches to 40 or event 100 Gbit/s links.
The chip is also geared for use in telecom core networks, aggregating traffic from central offices.
Broadcom designed the BCM88600 for multiple configurations. As many as six of the chips can be placed on a single line card to deliver up to 500 Gbits/s per card. OEMs also can create cluster switches using I/O chassis that link multiple systems housing up to a thousand 100G links.
Some engineers are working with multiple chips such as separate FPGAs, network processors, switches and ASICs to deliver similar features, said Jag Bolaria, a senior analyst with The Linley Group (Mountain View, Calif.). The Broadcom part "is probably the only device out there that has this level of integration," he said.
The market for 100 Gbit Ethernet switching "is fairly small in the next few years with perhaps sales of only hundreds of thousands of ports a year," said Bolaria. "But they are aiming at broader markets than that" by supporting 40 and 10G ports on the same chip, he added.
Marvell an archrival in Ethernet switching has devices with 40G ports but not 100G ports yet, he said.
"The introduction of the new product series within just ten months post acquisition [of Dune] underscores our ability to successfully integrate acquired technologies into our portfolio without slowing down the pace of innovation,” said Martin Lund, general manager of Broadcom's network switching group.