Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cavium Enters Ethernet Switching with 3.2 Tbps XPliant Fabric

Cavium made its entrance into the merchant Ethernet switching silicon market with the launch of its programmable XPliant Packet Architecture and chips. The technology for this new product line originates with XPliant, a Silicon Valley start-up that Cavium agreed to acquire in July.  The new products target switches for cloud / enterprise data centers and service provider infrastructure, for both top-of-rack and backbone applications.

The XPliant team, which drew talent from Cisco, Juniper, Brocade and Marvell, formed in 2011 with goal of developing a more programmable and scalable design for software-defined networks. The company said its design approach with its XPliant Packet Architecture was to take the dedicated function blocks present in conventional Layer 2 switching silicon and replace then will a flexible Table Type structure that enables software personalities to dictate the exact operation to be performed – for packet parsing, table look-ups, packet re-writes, fabric scheduling, and statistics and counters – without impacting performance. The company said its design fits well with the spine/leaf architecture of scale-out data centers.

Key features of the CNX880xx family of switch chips:

  • 880 Gigabits per second to 3.2 Terabits per second in a single chip
  • Port density at 3.2 Tbps with many flexible configurations, including: 32 ports of 100G, 64 ports of 40G or 50G, or 128 ports of 10G or 25G.
  • Support for the new 25G Ethernet Consortium specification for 25G on a single lane or 50G on two lanes.
  • Standard API support
XPliant will provide source code for a complete set of switching and routing functions as well as several network overlays via its SDK (software design kit).  The newest protocols such as GENEVE are already supported. As new protocols are introduced, updated personalities can be provided, even to switches that are installed in the network. As innovations such as OpenFlow TTPs or VXLAN extensions are created, they can quickly be deployed across the network.

Cavium's first XPliant’s CNX880xx Ethernet Switch chip is expected to sample in Q4.

“Leading cloud-scale Internet companies need to cope with the rapid increase in traffic from mobile apps as well as video” said Eric Hayes, VP and general manager, Switch Platform Group. “With XPA, OEMs will be able to differentiate their products while drastically reducing the time to new service deployment, increasing automation and driving operational efficiency.”


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