10GbE MAC Streamlines Multiprotocol Traffic

Oct. 13, 2005
By combining key building blocks, this media access controller simplifies 10-Gbit line-card designs.

Alliterative mantra for the day: cutting component count curbs cost. Nowhere is this statement more true than with 10-Gbit/s line cards.

Taking that alliteration to heart is the A2122 Redhawk 10-Gbit/s Ethernet (10GbE) media access controller (MAC), developed by Ample Communications. The chip combines two full-duplex 10-Gbit/s MACs on the line side, a pair of XAUI or system packet interfaces (SPI-4.2) on the system side, and Ample's statistical multiplexing technology to minimize multiprotocol congestion (see the figure). The inputs to the 10-Gbit/s MACs can be configured for XAUI (10-Gbit attachment unit) or XFI (10-Gbit small form factor electrical interface) optical transceiver interfaces to the line.

The company's statistical multiplexing technology enables cost-effective and better-managed Ethernet network equipment. It also offers support for advanced traffic filtering and prioritization. MPLS-ready (multiprotocol label switching) quality of service resides at the MAC layer, with service-level agreement management for granular bandwidth limiting and guarantees.

These features, plus 512 kbytes of on-chip buffering, and an option to connect up to 128 Mbytes of external FCRAM for each port allow the A2122 to achieve lossless 80-km reach for MPLS core networks. Ample claims that the A2122 is the first single chip to combine multiple 10-Gbit/s serializer-deserializer (SERDES) interfaces and MAC-layer logic. This reduces cost and power and shrinks the component footprint on the line card. A single chip supports one or two line ports. Two chips can be cascaded to provide four line ports with 2:1 and 4:1 statistical multiplexing, cutting system cost nearly in half.

The multiprotocol classification and congestion management includes MPLS, virtual local-area network (VLAN), MAC address, and Internet Protocol differentiated services code point (IP DSCP) capabilities that let designers futureproof designs for next-generation MPLS networks. The chip also can support MPLS tunneling and secure multiprotocol networks using hardware-based MPLS filters.

Each 10-Gbit/s MAC port incorporates eight priority queues to facilitate guaranteed delivery of services, such as Voice over Internet Protocol and video streams. The company expects the chip to be used in enterprise layer 3 and above Ethernet switches, as well as in application-oriented networking switches that offer 10-Gbit aggregation ports that operate at line rate or are statistically multiplexed.

The Redhawk A2122 will cost $350 each in volume. Samples will be available next month.

Ample Communications Inc.

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