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Processors advance fiber access nets

Posted: 16 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Ethernet? DSL? network processors?

Xelerated is expanding beyond its metropolitan carrier Ethernet focus as it rolls out its HX300 family, essentially a third generation of its network processors that add new capabilities to serve fiber access nets.

The HX300 includes three chips that more than double port counts the company supports to 52 while adding programmable cores that can serve passive-optical networks and DSL deployments. The chips and software and reference designs for them will ship before year-end.

The new parts help Xelerated better compete with rivals such as Broadcom Corp. and EZchip Technologies. Broadcom already offers 52-port Ethernet devices, but they are typically paired with an FPGA to handle programming chores for the multiservice access systems that feed fiber-to-the-home nets. EZchip offers programmability, but currently is limited to an 8-port density.

"Ethernet is all about port density and integration, and Xelerated can now match the density of the leading Ethernet devices and offer programmability as well," said Bob Wheeler, senior analyst, the Linley Group.

"The access piece is a new market for them," said Wheeler. "They also have a substantial existing business in metro Ethernet with their network processors and this is the next-generation part for that market as well," he added.

The programmability lets OEMs use the chip for a range of different backplanes, net topologies and flow control mechanisms. The chips include TCAM and SRAM to support on-chip network tables. Along with the chips, Xelerated provides applications software for multiservice access systems.

The access markets are still young and somewhat fragmented with different technologies being deployed in Japan and by Verizon in the United States. "It's a billion dollar opportunity, and it is wide open," said Thomas Eklund, VP of marketing and business development, Xelerated.

The company has a number of design wins for its existing network processors including with Huawei, which is a lead customer. "We are ramping revenues very fast and expect to be profitable in the near future," he added.

"Besides use in fibre access systems, the new chips will serve the kinds of routers, switches and aggregation boxes where Xelerated already has design wins. The company plans to roll lower cost and more feature-rich versions of the HX300 chips over time," he noted.

Using a high-end version of one of the chips, users can create a 100Gbit/s Ethernet line card using a 100G Interlaken interface. A standard for 100G Ethernet is still under development.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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