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Marvell, Dune partner on GbE chipset

Posted: 25 Jun 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Marvell Semiconductor? packet processor? serializer? deserializer? serdes?

Addressing the needs of enterprise, core and metro edge routers, Marvell Semiconductor Inc. has paired its packet processor, classification and serializer/deserializer (serdes) technology with Dune Networks Inc.'s fabric and traffic management technology. The companies believe the resultant two-piece Prestera-FX multiservice fabric chipset will answer a burgeoning need for scalable Gigabit Ethernet switches, while allowing for comprehensive service-level agreements with per-flow queuing.

Paul Valentine, senior product manager for the Prestera switch line at Marvell, said the company's current Prestera-EX, -DX, and -MX packet processors have been distinguished by their stratified performance, ranging from unmanaged Layer 2 up to multiprotocol label switching and multicast features. In its sixth-generation implementation, the line includes Internet Protocol management, extended routing spaces and policy control lists and advanced flow management for as many as 1 million flows.

"However, as we move forward, there are some challenges," Valentine said, referring to the growth of Gigabit Ethernet within the enterprise, and to the need for more sophisticated service-level agreements (SLAs) to be carried through the switch fabric with greater traffic management. "We estimate there are 12 million PCs with Gbit Ethernet ports connected to Fast Ethernet switches, so there's a pent-up demand for Gbit Ethernet to the desktop-with the ensuing demand for high-density enterprise cores at 10 Gbits per second and higher."

To tackle the problem, Marvell stayed with its current Prestera line of packet processors, but took the serdes technology it developed in its storage group and integrated it with Dune Networks' Sand (Scalable Architecture of Networking Devices) traffic and flow management devices. The result is the Prestera FX-930 and Prestera FX-9130, which can be placed within the core-switching fabric of large-enterprise core devices and metro routers, allowing them to scale to 10Gbps, 40Gbps, and higher "with no re-engineering or forklift upgrade," Valentine said.

"What's really different here is the traffic management between the packet processor and the switch fabric," he said. "In our fabric adapters, we have the classic class-of-service hardware queuing. Dune was attractive because it was flow-based and we could leverage our classifying agent on the packet processor to work with the Dune flow-based traffic management and enforcement."

The FX-930 fabric access processor condenses the bulk of the Marvell/Dune collaboration, combining Marvell's serdes interface with Dune's traffic management. The interface separates the data from the control plane and gives the Sand portion of the chip insight into the traffic management classification within the associated Prestera packet processor. The processor then performs the execution of those traffic flows on a per-user basis, leveraging its 8,000 ingress and 8,000 egress rules for sophisticated SLAs and class- and QoS.

The chipset is available now. Valentine said unit pricing will not exceed $295 for the FX-930 or $495 for the FX-9130, in thousands.

- Patrick Mannion

EE Times

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