Many forces pushing merchant switch fabric market in positive direction, reports In-Stat/MDR

26 August 2003 Scottsdale, AZ Lightwave - Although relatively young, the merchant switch fabric (MSF) market has enormous growth potential, according to a new report from In-Stat/MDR.

Aug 26th, 2003

26 August 2003 Scottsdale, AZ Lightwave - Although relatively young, the merchant switch fabric (MSF) market has enormous growth potential, according to a new report from In-Stat/MDR. Even though MSF vendors have suffered at least as much as other semiconductor makers over the past year, the market is entering a period when the following forces should result in healthy growth for the next 5 years:

• Many OEMs have experienced massive reductions in their research and development budgets and are now reconsidering the idea of using an MSF.

• Fabrics continue to expand their number of target markets including the healthy storage area networking and wireless infrastructure markets.

• The standardized aTCA chassis will help MSF vendors to truly reduce the ever-critical "time-to-market" metric for customers by pre-engineering many details of how to specifically use their solution in a specific, but widely available chassis.

• Standardized back planes that are gaining momentum from the RapidIO Trade Association and Arapahoe Working Group will provide an additional level of comfort for those OEMs that transition from their own, home-brewed fabric to one commercially available.

However, application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC)-based switch fabrics are the incumbent technology, and, according to Eric Mantion, a senior analyst with In Stat/MDR, "penetration for standard product-based switch fabrics will be an up-hill battle since a given equipment maker's proprietary intellectual property is often tied strongly to their backplane fabric." Several OEMs have used these ASIC-based chip-sets for years, but their next generation of fabrics will be hampered by the ever-increasing lump investment for both design and mask creations. "As the cost of a sub-micron mask tops half a dozen million dollars," says Mantion, "ASIC re-spins will no longer be considered trivial, except perhaps for the most gargantuan of equipment makers."

In-Stat/MDR believes that the most successful MSF vendors will not only have fabrics with good technical merits, but also present their customers with a holistic solution in which the fabric is blended seamlessly with the other high-intelligence networking silicon devices and has been "pre-engineered" with at least one standardized chassis. As infrastructure equipment continues to get more complicated, the individual aspects of chips become less important when compared to the completeness of the whole solution.

The report, "Switch Fabrics Gravitate to RapidIO and Arapahoe" (#IN030643NT), forecasts the shipments, ASPs, and revenues of the MSF market. It also projects the shipments expected for the entire fabric market, as well as for standardized back planes, such as RapidIO and Advanced Switching. There is also market share data for 2002 of the top MSF vendors. To purchase this report, or formore information, please visit: http://www.instat.com/catalog/Ncatalogue.asp?ID=28 or contact Courtney McEuen at 281-246-4668; cmceuen@reedbusiness.com.The report is priced at $3,995.00.

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