Compact IBM Chip Set Promises to Increase Networking Performance

IBM next month will make generally available a networking chip set focused on providing increased performance in a compact design with low power usage.

IBM next month will make generally available a networking chip set focused on providing increased performance in a compact design with low power usage.

Called the PowerPRS 64Gu packet-routing switch, the chip set allows networking gear makers to build high-bandwidth applications in a smaller switch-fabric-board form factor and to expand to a higher aggregate throughput and number of ports without replacing entire systems, IBM officials said.

The PowerPRS 64Gu can support the development of single-stage switch fabrics with as many as 32 ports for OC48c and multiple Gigabit Ethernet applications or as many as eight ports for 10 Gigabit Ethernet and OC192c applications.

The new chip set, when combined with the new IBM PowerPRS C48 switch-fabric interface or existing PowerPRS C192 switch-fabric interface, is aimed at a wide range of networking applications, such as enterprise connectivity, WAN edge, Web content routers, storage area networks, multiservice backbone switches and mobile base stations, said officials at IBM, in Armonk, N.Y.

The chip set is about 40 percent more compact and provides a 30 percent improvement in power consumption compared with similar chip sets.

IBM officials said they expect the earliest use for the chip set to be in networking gear that will help companies aggregate multiple Gigabit Ethernet connections in enterprise and metropolitan networks, as well as for mobile bay stations. It should appear in networking hardware by mid-2003.

With the PowerPRS 64Gu, IBM has better targeted the needs of users of switches with 40G bps to 80G bps of throughput. The PowerPRS 64Gu will help switch makers improve current products rather than introduce higher-speed gear, said Jag Bolaria, an analyst at The Linley Group Inc., of Mountain View, Calif.

"With the slowdown, people are not developing and designing a bunch of 10 Gigabit [Ethernet] systems, and the ones that are successful now are able to support upgrades and extensions of existing systems," Bolaria said. "This is [IBMs] extension of this product that gives lower power and makes IBMs solution more competitive."