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Business News – Broadcom Chip Enables Converged Networks

Posted: 10/1999

Business News

Broadcom Chip Enables Converged Networks
By Charlotte Wolter

Broadcom Corp., Irvine, Calif., announced availability of a new switch-on-a-chip, the
StrataSwitch, that will do fast switching of data, voice and video in gigabit Ethernet
networks. The wire-speed, multilayer switch combines switching, routing and traffic
classification in a single integrated circuit (IC) that replaces as many as 10 other
devices.

The chip, the first in a family of products, enables converged local area networks
(LANs) that are able to transmit data, Internet protocol (IP) voice and video, and is an
enabling technology for greater convergence of data types in private and public networks.
It will be the basis of new switches for workgroups on LANs that will make converged
voice, data and video much more cost-effective than ever before. It also will allow
features and functions now available only in the cores of networks to reach the desktop.

The chip’s development grew from Broadcom’s acquisition earlier this year of Maverick
Networks Inc., which had expertise in multilayer, high-performance switching.

The first product in the StrataSwitch family is the first single-chip solution with 24
fast Ethernet and two gigabit Ethernet ports, operating at maximum data rates. Rather than
just forwarding packets using Layer 2 switching, the new chip will allow LAN devices to do
multilayer (3 and above) IP quality-of-service (QoS) functions to provide the necessary
prioritization of packets for smooth IP voice and video. These functions have not been
available before in LAN switches.

Specifically, it does wire-speed Layer 2 forwarding, Layer 3 IP switching and Layer 2
through 7 filtering and traffic classification, as well as four classes of service on
every port. The Layer 3 IP switching capability also operates at full wire speeds,
allowing a network to route IP traffic at speeds 10 to 100 times faster than traditional
routing chassis.

A Layer 2 through 7 fast-filter processor (FFP) can inspect and determine the content
of each packet, using information in the first 64 bytes of each packet. A packet is then
assigned a specific class, and is forwarded according to the packet header information.
Each port has four queues to differentiate classes of traffic and prioritize handling
based on network policy. This capability delivers support for QoS to the network edge for
time-delay sensitive or bandwidth-demanding applications such as voice over IP (VoIP) and
video streaming.

In May, Broadcom unveiled a chip that performed gigabit-Ethernet transmissions over
copper wiring, enabling common LANs to transmit data at gigabit speeds. The increased
speed allows transmission of data, voice and video over LANs.

Products based on this chip are planned for the third quarter of 1999 from companies
such as Cisco Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif. They would include network adapter cards for
PCs and switches.

Broadcom develops processing chips for broadband communications, such as cable modems,
asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) and gigabit Ethernet networks.


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