EZchip unveils single-chip 100-Gbit network processor

May 30, 2007
MAY 30, 2007 -- NP-4's flexibility, integration and port diversity make it ideal for building a variety of line cards for CESR, including line cards with 24 or 48 Gigabit ports; two, four, or eight 10-Gigabit ports; or one 100-Gigabit port, say EZchip representatives.

MAY 30, 2007 -- EZchip Technologies Ltd. (search for EZchip Technologies), a fabless semiconductor company providing high-speed network processors, today announced its NP-4 network processor, currently in design in a 65-nm silicon process and scheduled to sample in 2008.

According to the company, the NP-4 offers system vendors a significant cost reduction by integrating all the key components of their line card into a single chip. NP-4 main highlights include:

  • 100-Gigabit throughput for building 20-Gigabit, 40-Gigabit, and 100-Gigabit line cards for Carrier Ethernet Switches and Routers (CESR).
  • Integrated traffic management providing granular bandwidth control to enable the delivery of triple-play services in Ethernet networks.
  • Integrated 100-Gigabit, 10-Gigabit, and 1-Gigabit Ethernet serial ports.
  • Integrated Fabric Interface Chip (FIC) for direct connection to Ethernet switches that are used as switch fabrics while providing system-wide quality of service (QoS).
  • Utilization of external memory chips based on low cost and power DRAM technology.
  • Operations, Administration, and Management (OAM) processing offload.
  • Software compatibility with EZchip's present NP-2 and NP-3 network processors.

    The NP-4 provides a total of 100-Gigabit throughput and features a 100-Gigabit port, eight 10-Gigabit ports, and 24 1-Gigabit Ethernet ports. Integrated hierarchical traffic management assigns individual flows with specific QoS and enforces Service Level Agreements (SLA) for applications, services, and users, says the company.

    The NP-4 enables direct connection from the line card to Ethernet-based switching fabric through a unique integration of the functionality typically provided by a separate fabric interface chip, explain EZchip representatives. It provides control over traffic arbitration and scheduling from all the line cards in the system across the switch fabric to provide end-to-end system-wide QoS. This allows system vendors to utilize low-cost Ethernet switches as their fabric solution and eliminate the fabric interface chip from their line cards, says the company. The result is significant reduction in line card and overall system cost. Other (non Ethernet-based) switch fabrics with proprietary interfaces from leading vendors are supported as well. EZchip says it has also designed the NP-4 to utilize external memory chips based on low cost and power DRAM technology to further reduce overall cost and power.

    EZchip provides network processors to the fast growing Carrier Ethernet market and in particular for building CESR equipment, a market segment that is forecasted by Infonetics Research to grow from $5 billion in 2006 to $9 billion in 2010. According to the company, NP-4's flexibility, integration and port diversity make it ideal for building a variety of line cards for CESR, including line cards with 24 or 48 Gigabit ports; two, four, or eight 10-Gigabit ports; or one 100-Gigabit port.

    "Through NP-2's and NP-3's processing flexibility and integration, EZchip has attained a leadership position in the market for high-speed network processors and can claim the major Tier-1 Carrier Ethernet switch and router vendors as its customers," contends Eli Fruchter, president and CEO of EZchip Technologies. "In NP-4, we will provide higher throughput and port-density, integration of key line card elements in a single chip, and direct connection to Ethernet switch fabrics. This combination brings Enterprise per-port price points to the Carrier Ethernet market in a fully programmable chip," he claims. "It allows us to offer a compelling solution for applications ranging from the high-end fully-featured CESR platforms to the simplest, most cost-sensitive applications."

    "With broad support building for 100-Gigabit Ethernet, EZchip has wisely decided to skip the intermediate 40-Gbit/sec performance point," adds Bob Wheeler, senior analyst at The Linley Group. "By targeting 100 Gbits/sec of throughput, the NP-4 should also be an attractive single-chip solution for high-density GbE and 10-GbE line cards."
    The NP-4 is software-compatible with EZchip's NP-2 and NP-3 processors and boasts all of their features, particularly the extensive processing flexibility and the integrated hierarchical traffic management tuned for delivering triple-play services, says the company.

    The NP-4 also features dedicated hardware for OAM processing offload. Historically, OAM processing burdens CESR equipment with significant processing overhead related to complex packet classification, simultaneous monitoring of many sessions, and accurate bandwidth control. But EZchip says the NP-4, through its processing flexibility, integrated traffic management, and OAM support hardware, enables high-performance OAM processing that can adapt to changing standards and requirements.

    Through programming, the NP-4 delivers a variety of applications such as L2 switching, Q-in-Q, PBT, VPLS, MPLS, and IPv4/IPv6 routing. Company representatives say NP-4's flexible packet processing enables system designers to future proof their designs to support new protocols and features through software updates. Packet parsing is supported for any field anywhere in the packet. Various table lookup options are provided with support for long lookup keys and results. Flows are classified based on any combination of extracted packet information. Any packet header and content can be edited and packets can easily be replicated to support multicast applications, says the company. A 'run to completion' processing model guarantees support for processing scenarios of any complexity. Large code space is provided to support complex applications as well as true hitless code updates.


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