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Broadcom: Gbit IP phone won't jam up traffic

Posted: 01 Mar 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:voice-over-internet protocol? voip? broadcom? gigabit ethernet internet protocol? phone chip?

Jumping on the accelerating interest in voice-over-Internet Protocol for the enterprise, Broadcom Corp. is sampling what it says is the first Gigabit Ethernet Internet Protocol phone chip. The gigabit capability is said to alleviate the bottleneck that ip phones can become as networks are upgraded from Fast Ethernet.

For many of those deployments, the IP phone resides between the network and the PC. "Ninety-nine percent of IP phones have a switch that allows daisychaining," said Bill Boora, VoIP product-marketing manager at Broadcom. "But if the network operates at gigabit speeds and the phone's IP chip is at 10/100[Base-T] speeds, that whole daisychain slows down."

The bottleneck is increasingly problematic as networks accelerate their migration to Gigabit Ethernet to handle converged voice, video and data, he said.

"We have every broadband element needed [for integration]," Boora said. The chip integrates hardware encryption and enhanced quality-of-service support.

For VoIP in particular, Broadcom is going up against the likes of Texas Instruments and Agere, though Boora contends the battle is already won. "We're in four out the top five IP phones . . . and three of those are exclusive," he said. According to research firm International Data Corp., the overall market for IP telephony in the enterprise will grow at a compound annual rate of 43 percent over the next five years.

While the BCM1103 has a USB port that allows peripherals to be connected to the phone, it really shines on the security front, according to Paul Shore, director of VoIP client products at Broadcom. The hardware encryption offloads the RISC processor and reduces latencies, he said.

The scheme is based on a unique ID stored in a one-time-programmable cell. That ID is then used as the base key for public and private key exchange. The approach differs from current designs in which the ID is stored in reprogrammable flash memory that can be tampered with and changed, said Boora. The new design is "like a fingerprint for every phone," he said. "It's virtually unbreakable."

In a base configuration, the BCM1103 would require the addition of a physical layer, NAND and flash memory, and magnetics to complete a design, said Boora, though the plan is to integrate the Gigabit Ethernet PHY at a later date. The chip already includes GPIO and PCI interfaces.

Pricing is set at $25.00 per unit in 10,000 piece quantities.

- Patrick Mannion

EE Times

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