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Cisco bumps up its silicon speed to 25.6Tbps

News Analysis
Mar 12, 20213 mins
Data CenterNetworking

Cisco's Silicon One webscaler-device family now has 10 members

Cisco continues to crank up the speed of its webscaler-class Silicon One devices, this week adding three new devices—including 25.6Tbps switching silicon it says delivers  1.7 times higher bandwidth and three times higher packets-per-second than other silicon on the market.

Cisco unveiled the Silicon One family of unified switches and routers in 2019 as part of what it called its “Internet for the Future”  strategy.  The Silicon One family is important as Cisco has designs on being a leading provider of the network underpinnings of large webscale and service provider networks. The family can also help Cisco compete effectively with others such as Intel, Broadcom, Juniper, Arista.

The now 10-member Silicon One family features Cisco’s custom Silicon One chip technology and includes Cisco 8000 Series carrier-class routers built on that silicon all running the IOS XR7 operating system that runs the boxes and handles security. Silicon One optical-routing silicon includes support for large non-blocking distributed routers, deep buffering with rich QoS, and programmable forwarding.

Since the devices are programmable, they can be customized for a range of applications from a single chipset—eliminating the need to deploy multiple, specific silicon chipsets for standalone processors, line-card processors, and fabric elements. This is accomplished with a common and unified P4 programmable-forwarding code and SDK, the company said.

The new members of the Silicon One family include the programmable 25.6Tbps G100 device, the Q211, an 8Tbps routing ASIC, and the Q211, an 8Tbps switch ASIC. The G100 has individual 1.6Tbps interfaces, and because of the G100’s packet-processing engines, each can process a single flow at the full speed of the interface, wrote Rakesh Chopra, a Cisco Fellow in Cisco’s Common Hardware Group in a blog about the new devices.

“By combining many programmable functions like parsing, processing, timestamping, counters, meters, histograms, watermarks, and flow analytics we’ve created a fully programmable temporal view of traffic patterns,” Chopra, stated. “Done in nano-second granularity, this programmable infrastructure allows customers to replay past events to truly understand the dynamics of their networks to troubleshoot the equipment, optimize the infrastructure, and identify malicious attacks.”

Silicone On devices can also support  white-box vendors or hyperscalers developing their own networking systems—one of the few times Cisco has acted as a merchant silicon vendor. How much impact that capability has been exploited by other vendors is unclear a this point, industry watchers say.

Cisco said the Cisco Silicon One G100 is being tested by customers now.

Cisco introduced six other Silicon One devices last October including the 6.4Tbps Q201L 64x100GE web scale switch and the 3.2Tbps Q202L 32x100GE web scale switch.