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Zarlink unveils new embedded Ethernet switch

Posted: 30 May 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Zarlink? Ethernet switch? DirectConnect? ZL33020?

Zarlink Semiconductor expanded its DirectConnect family of embedded Ethernet switches with a new high-capacity aggregation and switch device touted to simplify the design of high-density media processing, data plane and control plane cards used in wired, wireless and cable networks.

The ZL33020 Ethernet switch is a 24 Fast Ethernet (FE) + 4 Gigabit Ethernet (GE) port device with 3.75Mbits of embedded memory for control databases and frame data buffer. The device supports multiple interface options, including SMII, RMII, GMII, TBI and MII, enabling designers to easily match a range of Ethernet interfaces available in complementary Ethernet devices, said Zarlink.

In recent years, Ethernet has proven to be an efficient interface for connectivity between DSPs, micro-controllers and network processor units, in applications where heavy data traffic must be quickly processed and managed, including modem pools in wireless base stations, VoIP gateways, cable head-end modulators for IP video, high-end traffic management and control plane cards. Most basic Ethernet switches for enterprise applications require external devices that draw from system resources and lock designers into a specific logic. For example, basic Ethernet switches with embedded PHYs require additional external PHYs to interface with the DSP, micro- controllers and NPUs. Previous-generation Ethernet switches used in VoIP applications may also require additional FPGAs to map voice, fax or general streaming media traffic to the various DSPs used in the board.

With the new embedded switch, Zarlink's DirectConnect product family provides the most complete offering in embedded device solutions for FE and GE inter-processor connectivity, the company said. The DirectConnect portfolio, which also includes the ZL50400/2/4/5/7/8/9 and ZL50410/1 embedded switch families, allows Zarlink customers to chose from a variety of FE and GE port count configurations supporting an industrial temperature range, an essential requirement in carrier-grade networking.

Powerful QoS and inter-processor traffic addressing schemeSystems performing heavy media processing functions, such as modem baseband processing, echo cancellation, voice processing, compression, fax processing, radio modulation as well as intense traffic management and control plane functions, employ several DSP/NPU and micro-processor devices to simultaneously manage all transactions at full wire-speed. To maximize the bandwidth and avoid any traffic over-flow in the system, a robust bandwidth allocation and buffer management scheme is required when interconnecting all these devices.

Zarlink said its new device integrates flexible packet scheduling algorithms and buffer management functions. Designers can use it to assign packets to four transmission classes on FE ports, eight classes for GE ports and two levels of dropping precedence. Each packet is assigned a transmission priority and dropping precedence based on user-defined attributes.

When interconnecting multiple DSP/NPU devices in a cluster, the new embedded switch can implement packet addressing based on MAC Address, Ethernet Type and VLAN Identifier plus packet prioritization based on IEEE 802.1p priority, VLAN Tag, L3 DS/TOS field, IP Type of Service, and Layer 4 logical port numbers. This flexible addressing allows system designers to maximize and split media processing resource allocation between DSP and NPU devices in the cluster, said Zarlink.

Two types of flow control are available in the ZL33020. In half-duplex mode, all ports support backpressure flow control to minimize the effects of lost data during long traffic activity bursts. In full-duplex mode, IEEE 802.3x flow control is provided.

AvailabilityThe ZL33020 Ethernet switch is available at 62.00 in 10,000 volumes. A version for 16 FE + 2 GE configuration will be available soon. The device is supported by a full software development kit including device driver source code, board supporting package for the DirectConnect evaluation system, and a comprehensive set of APIs for chip configuration to simplify the programming of the chip registers and enable faster system development. Evaluation boards are available with various plug-in modules for 100/1000 Ethernet transceivers and CPUs based on PowerPC, ARM and MIPS.

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