Electronic Design

EtherCAT Makes Ethernet Purr Over Sonet/SDH

With ethernet's line speeds reaching 1 Gbit/s and 10 Gbits/s, network engineers now have to make Ethernet local-area networks (LANs) compatible with the entrenched Sonet/SDH technology found in most metro networks. It isn't easy to transport packet-based Ethernet data efficiently over synchronous time-division multiplexer (TDM) networks like Sonet/SDH, though.

With Vitesse Semiconductor's EtherCAT, engineers can create universal line cards, add-drop multiplexers, and multiservice provisioning platforms that make the two systems compatible. A typical EtherCAT solution uses Vitesse's VSC7331 (also known as Campbell-I) combined with one of the company's HOVCAT virtual concatenation mapper chips, such as the VSC9118 10-Gbit mapper. These two chips form the base of a line card and communicate with one another over a standard OIF SPI-4.2 interface.

The VSC9118 mapper communicates with the backplane via the SFI4 interface or the optical line transceivers. The VSC7331 provides 10 individually configurable ports, including 10/100/1000 Ethernet or other data services like Fibre Channel (FC), Enterprise Systems Connection (ESCON), Fiber Connectivity (FICON), and Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) (see the figure). Through this "any protocol on any port" architecture, OEMs can develop truly universal line cards capable of supporting any combination of Ethernet, storage, or video protocols.

ITU's generic framing procedure (GFP) provides for transparent mapping of all 8B/10B protocols, which in turn allows for the transport of mixed LAN and storage-area network data over the network. The chip also contains a 10-Gbit Ethernet port that employs the XAUI interface. A 128-kbyte egress FIFO and a 384-kbyte ingress FIFO enable short-haul flow control and smoothing bursty conditions. Furthermore, there's full support for statistics.

Housed in a 728-pin TBGA package, the VSC7331 costs $280 in volume. Samples are available now, with production quantities coming in April.

Vitesse Semiconductor Corp.
(800) 848-3773

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