As the movement toward cloud-based computing grows thanks to the proliferation of smart phones and tablets, network bandwidth will continue to increase. The portion of network infrastructure currently running gigabit Ethernet (1GbE) is beginning the migration toward ten gigabit Ethernet (10GbE). Seamus Crehan, president of Crehan Research, sees cloud computing and high-end servers such as IBM blade centers in the next few years. “Server-class networking bandwidth will see a five-fold increase by 2017, exceeding 900 Tb in that year as datacenters continue to increase network capacity to keep up with traffic demands,” he states.
Tehuti Networks Inc. is accelerating the transition with a 10GbE controller, the TN4010, targeted at network interface card (NIC) and LAN on motherboard (LOM) customers. A highly integrated solution that eliminates external serial EEPROM/flash memory from the bill of materials (BOM), the TN4010 integrates memory on-chip in the form of anti-fuse, one-time programmable (OTP) non-volatile memory (NVM; see figure 1). Because making a bit-for-bit substitution would not deliver the expected flexibility, meeting the desired performance, cost, and schedule targets required the project take an integrated design approach (see sidebar).
Figure 1: The TN4010 10GbE controller includes an on-chip, 8-kb one-time programmable non-volatile memory (OTP NVM) from Kilopass Technology Inc.
The reduction in components is significant to NIC and LOM customers for a number of reasons. The most obvious is cost. The Tehuti OEM reduces BOM by the price of the external serial EEPROM/flash memory. Considered in the context of full operational cost, however, the approach provides much more significant savings. It eliminates the need to qualify external memory components, vendors, and second sources. It removes the overhead of purchase orders and invoices, and mitigates the risk of incorrect forecasting. It simplifies inventory management and dealing with shortages and allocations. It also cuts the production costs associated with placing the component on the board, as well as testing and rework. These savings go directly to the customer’s bottom line.
The other benefit to the customer is enhanced quality. Cutting the component count reduces the defect per million since system quality and reliability is inversely related to component count.