Broadcom Corp. is sampling a new series of its Ethernet chip, which distinguishes itself with support for wireless LAN switching.
The StrataXGS III 500 series is the fifth generation of the companys Ethernet switch technology. All five generations have a common software API, allowing for smoother product upgrades for licensees, said officials at Broadcom in Irvine, Calif.
The series includes five new chips, which address various port requirements. At the high end is the BCM56504, which incorporates 24 Gigabit Ethernet ports and four 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Among other new features, the StrataXGS III chips allow for both Layer 2 and Layer 3 routing, as well as roaming among access points and switches, a necessity for applications such as phone calls over the WLAN.
"What were driving to is a unified wired/wireless switch, which will be at the right price point for the wiring closet," said Eric Hayes, a product line manager at Broadcom.
Pricing for the chips is approximately $495 in quantities of 10,000.
Analysts expect Broadcoms inclusion of WLAN support to expedite a trend of convergence in the industry but said there will still be demand for the centrally controlled WLAN platforms from startups such as Aruba Wireless Networks Inc. and Airespace Inc., the latter recently acquired by Cisco Systems Inc. These startups have achieved success largely because of their management software.
"Switching on chips gives Broadcom the ability to deliver a box at the edge with wireless and wired capability," said Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner Inc., in San Jose, Calif. "Airespaces [4000 WLAN Switch] is improperly called a wireless switch. Rather, it is better called a core controller. The functions normally at the edge have been moved to the core to achieve greater manageability."
In addition to the WLAN support, the StrataXGS III chips include better security measures, including DoS (denial of service) attack blocking and an embedded cryptography engine called Broadsafe, which is FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) 140-2-compliant.
Broadcom is sampling the StrataXGS III chips now, which are due for mass production in the next three months, Hayes said. Licensees will include multiple major networking companies, he said, but declined to name them.
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