Broadcom has unveiled the latest generation of its 10Gb switch silicon technology, as well as a new low-end GbE chip, both using 65nm wafers to deliver power savings for the data center, small business and home network markets.
The Irvine, California-based semiconductor firm’s new 10Gb device is the BCM56820, a 24-port, 65nm chip, which means greater port density on a thinner wafer than its previous generation product, where it offered 20 ports on 90nm. Martin Lund, VP and GM of the company’s network switching line of business, said the competition in this market is still on 130nm wafers and offering lower port densities. There are, in fact, only two other players in the 10Gb space, namely Fulcrum and Fujitsu.
Lund stressed that, though on a thinner wafer, the new chip is not a dumb Layer-2 device. It has L3 capabilities such as full routing tables for IPv4 and IPv6, deep packet inspection and the ability to segregate traffic, with a classification engine that supports virtualization techniques as they move beyond the individual server to the network.
At the same time, Broadcom also announced a 5ive-port GbE switch chip on 65nm called the BCM53115. Lund said the target market for this device is any device needing to transition up from Fast Ethernet, which means it could go into consumer electronics gear and SMB devices. The power saving on this chip is roughly a third of what is required on a thicker wafer, so we see it going into business gateways and home/CE devices, said Lund.
Broadcom is calling the BCM3115 a smart switch, in that it has L2 functionality, supporting DSL and cable modem as well as WLAN connectivity, but also L3 features such as QoS and multicast for IPTV.
One particular driver for the new smart switch chip, said Lund, is the 802.11n wireless LAN protocol. You need GbE on the wired side to get the full benefit of 11n, but until now that has been expensive and power-hungry, so with this chip reducing power consumption by a third, we think we’ll be unleashing the power of 11n.