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Electronic Design

Ethernet Switch Enables 1/2.5-Gbit Server Blade Connectivity

Maybe you’re designing a next-generation blade server. Perhaps you need a switching engine for an advanced TCA platform. Or maybe you’re searching for a switch to enhance the performance of present Gigabit Ethernet (1GE) blade servers or TCA chassis. Broadcom’s BCM56580 multilayer switch fits all of these situations.

Designers can use this switch when their product needs more bandwidth and they aren’t ready to make the leap to 10-Gbit Ethernet (10GE) hardware. With it, designers can use 1- and 2.5-Gbit streams with existing 1GE blade server infrastructure, preserving IT investments. As existing 1GE blade servers require more capacity, the BCM56580’s 2.5-Gbit/s capabilty can bypass the 1GE bottleneck.

The BCM56580 is part of Broadcom’s StrataXGS III product line. This 16-port, 1/2.5-Gbit/s mulitlayer switch offers four 10GE ports (see the figure). Its auto-negotiation of both 1GE and 2.5-Gbit/s streams lets each port simultaneously support either 1GE or 2.5-Gbit/s speeds. It also enables individual deployment of blades in a plug-and-play fashion.

The chip includes Broadcom’s ContentAware engine, which provides deep packet inspection at layers 2 through 7. This allows the switch to identify and prioritize various types of traffic, including IP-based storage, clustering, management, and data networking. Other key features include cut-through switching for reduced overall system latency and an integrated serializer/deserializer (SERDES).

Its on-chip buffer and table memory help reduce the bill of materials cost and save board space. The BCM56580 also features eight classes of service per port for traffic prioritization, full IPv6 routing support for streamlined network management, and advanced quality of service for converged networking applications.

The device works with Broadcom’s NeXtreme II BCM5708S converged network interface controller (C-NIC). According to the company, this combination provides the industry’s only 2.5-Gbit/s infrastructure solution optimized for blade servers. The result is the ability to perform storage networking, clustering, accelerated TCP/IP networking, and remote management pass-through all over a single Ethernet fabric.

The BCM56580 is sampling to customers now. Full production is expected in July. Prices can be obtained from the company.

Broadcom Corp.

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