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Broadcom chips pack Gigabit ports

Sep 30, 20032 mins

* Broadcom family of chips have high density of Gigabit Ethernet ports

Broadcom recently introduced a set of switch chips that promise to further reduce the cost of Gigabit Ethernet equipment.

The latest set of Broadcom switches – the company’s fifth generation of Gigabit Ethernet switch chips – is the ROBO-HS family, which stands for Remote Office/Branch Office-High Speed. Yes, they are designed for small to midsize businesses.

These chips make it possible to consolidate up to 24 ports of Gigabit Ethernet on a single chip. Switch vendors could use multiple chips to create a 48-port Gigabit Ethernet switch. Increased port densities usually result in less expensive products for end users.

Broadcom cited the low prices of Gigabit Ethernet capability in laptop computers, PCs and network interface cards as a reason Gigabit Ethernet is taking off. It’s also a reason small organizations would even consider the high-speed connections for their small offices.

The chips come in five different port densities, ranging from four ports on a chip to 24. The eight-, five- and four-port versions integrate copper Gigabit Ethernet physical layer transceivers onto the chips. That is another feature that can keep costs down.

The 16- and 24-port versions support the PCI bus for management, which Broadcom says lets vendors use the processors and software developed for previous versions of Broadcom switches.

Other features supported include IEEE 802.1x security, 802.1Q virtual LANs, 802.1p prioritization, jumbo frames, trunking and port-based rate control.

Samples of the switch chips are expected to be available to equipment makers in October, so it would follow that products based on the technology should be available to end users sometime next year.