Chipmakers lay groudwork for faster and smarter data center switches


Broadcom and Freescale Semiconductor have announced switching platforms that promise to improve the performance of network virtualization and make the underlying technologies more widely available.

Just like other parts of enterprise IT infrastructures, the network is going through some major changes thanks to the growing importance of cloud services and virtualization. Two offerings launched by chipmakers Broadcom and Freescale highlight how switches will evolve going forward.

The next-generation of Broadcom’s StrataXGS Trident ethernet switch portfolio, the Trident-II+ SoC (system-on-a-chip) is designed for virtualized data centers running on 10 Gigabit ethernet. The total switching capacity is 1.28Tbps.

Improvements include double the performance for data center virtualization overlays, such as VXLANs (Virtual Extensible Local Area Network), an encapsulation technology that’s used to create logical networks for virtual machines.

Broadcom has also implemented a pre-standard version of the Geneve (Generic Network Virtualization Encapsulation) protocol. It’s currently being the developed by standards organization IETF, which hopes to create a more all-encompassing technology for network virtualization connectivity.

Freescale, on the other hand, has collaborated with switch manufacturer Advantech on a whitebox device with support for features such as encrypted tunnels over the aforementioned VXLANs. The platform aims to make advanced networks more widely available and affordable, Freescale said on Tuesday.

The platform also implements protocols such as OpenFlow, which is used to implement so-called SDN (software-defined networking) by letting a central controller take command over how packets are sent in the network. The end result is a programmable network that can quickly adapt to changing conditions.

Broadcom also implements the technology, and its SoC has the capacity to handle tens of thousands of flows, the company said.

The StrataXGS Trident-II+ is available in sample quantities, Broadcom said, without elaborating on when it expects the first switches powered by the SoC on the market. The Freescale and Advantech whitebox switch will start shipping during the second half of the year.

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