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Foundry switches backed by fast chip set

Apr 29, 20032 mins

* Foundry’s latest switches are powered by new generation of ASICs

Foundry Networks’ newest switches are based on a set of application-specific integrated circuits that should help the company build even more powerful models in the future.

For details on the two new switches, the BigIron MG8 and NetIron 40G, you can read my colleague Phil Hochmuth’s Network World article at:

In this newsletter I want to focus on the chips themselves, which are intended to carry Foundry’s line forward. Previous switches would have ports that ran 10 Gigabit Ethernet, but at a slower rate than a full 10G bit/sec. To get to the next level, Foundry (and other vendors) needed a quantum leap.

For Foundry, that leap is the Terathon ASIC chip set. Foundry says it is capable of 1.28 terabits per second of switching, which means that dozens of 10G bit/sec ports could be included in a switch, at full speed. Each line card could switch up to 160G bit/sec, with slots capable of 40G bit/sec.

Foundry says it’s a nonblocking architecture, with every slot and every port getting unfettered access to the switching capability. Foundry is demonstrating one of its new switches with Layer 3 switching for 32 ports of 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

The new switches focus on high-speed links. In the future, though, Foundry plans to raise the density. In other words, you can expect line cards stuffed with Gigabit Ethernet ports – another reason Foundry and other vendors are pushing Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop.