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Xelerated offers ICs, software extensions as 'virtual ASIC'

Posted: 14 May 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:xelerated? co-processor chip? software extension? broadcom? strataxgs?

Xelerated Inc. is offering a series of co-processor chips and software extensions to Broadcom Corp.'s StrataXGS architecture. The package allows it to offer what the company calls "virtual ASIC" extensions to XGS.

Gary Liddington, VP of marketing at Xelerated, said linking NPUs to Layer 2 switches, in conjunction with off-the-shelf software for stacks and drivers, amounts to a "service card for stackable switches."

At the NetWorld+Interop conference, Xelerated showed its current x10q network processor and HiGig buffer manager that works with the Broadcom StrataXGS. Xelerated also is showing line-card simulations with the future x11 processor, an integrated device with a buffer manager which the company will sample this fall.

Currently, the x10q offloads Layer 3 functions such as IPv6 routing, multiprotocol label switching (including Martini extensions), and IPv6 to IPv4 translation mechanisms such as network address protocol translation, and virtual private network functions.

Liddington said the Broadcom-Xelerated reference designs do not currently include direct ports to preconfigured software stacks from vendors like LVL7 and IP Infusion. However, he said, Xelerated has an existing relationship with IP Infusion, and Broadcom has a pact with LVL7 which includes StrataXGS. Hence, customer requests for middleware used in the commercial software modules can be added quickly.

Offering a "virtual ASIC" program carries the obvious advantage of introducing network-processor architectures to a wider audience. But Liddington said it also helps OEMs retaining a design team for strict stackable Layer 2 features determining that they needed to quickly add Layer 3 routing features.

"The requirements for advanced v6 and MPLS functions literally changed over six months' time," Liddington said. "Companies in the pure enterprise Ethernet switching business, who had these features on their list of future capabilities, shifted them to their 'must have' requests, just since the start of 2004."

Some advanced features have been added only in the past month. For example, Liddington said, the Internet Engineering Task Force has been working on a program called IPFIX, for Internet Protocol Flow Information Export, to standardize the type of functions seen in Cisco Systems Inc.'s NetFlow protocol. IPFIX would allow a router to export IP flow information to a network management system or billing system.

Xelerated recently added IPFIX support to its processor.

Xelerated aids OEMs in programming software features that operate in the data path, but the company also has a "virtual ASIC driver" to expose features of the data plane to the control plane. The program thus can be used by OEMs working with both control-plane processors and datapath processors.

- Loring Wirbel

EE Times

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