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Net processor manages 400Gbps data flow

Posted: 30 Jun 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:400Gbps? router chip? network processor?

Alcatel-Lucent recently announced the development of a network processor that can manage 400Gbps data flowsdouble the throughput of chief competitor Cisco's best chip. Scheduled to appear in edge routers in mid-2012, the FP3 will ultimately fuel the company's foray into the core router market.

The chip is the latest volley in a long-standing war among top router makers including Ericsson, Huawei and Juniper. Each company develops its own network processors with competing Silicon Valley teams.

Cisco rolled out its 100-200Gbps CRS-3 router chip in November. It is said to have a next-generation chip in the works called Pita with as many as 200 cores to handle 400Gbps flows, and Huawei is working on a similar chip due next year.

"Alcatel-Lucent will have a clear advantage for now in throughput," said Shin Umeda, a vice president for router market research at Dell'Oro Group.

What's less clear is how the chips compare in their abilities to inspect and manage data flows for security and other functions. Umeda said Alca-Lu may have an edge because its new FP3 chip is a third-generation effort, and as such has a longer history than some competitors' offerings.

Cisco owns the edge and core router markets, but its share has been slipping in recent years. Cisco commanded 42 percent of the $5.9 billion edge router market last year, down from 57 percent in 2006, according to Dell'Oro. It had a 58 percent share of the $2.7 billion core router market last year, with Juniper in second place at 30 percent.

Alca-Lu and Juniper were nearly tied for second place in edge routers last year at 22 and 20 percent, respectively. Alca-Lu does not currently have a core router offering, but is expected to design one around the new FP3 chip. Juniper announced its latest router chip in late 2009.

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