Broadcom Begins Sampling 64-Port 100GbE Ethernet Chips

The vendor is unveiling the StrataXGS Tomahawk II, which has speeds up to 6.4T bps and is aimed at large data centers and HPC environments.

data centers

Broadcom is sampling the next generation of its StrataXGS Tomahawk Ethernet switch chips, offering processors that officials say drive improved bandwidth capacity, scalability and power efficiency for cloud-scale data centers.

The company this week unveiled the StrataXGS Tomahawk II switch series of chips that support up to 64 ports of 100 Gigabit Ethernet or 128 ports of 40Gbe or 50GbE. The chips also provide packet switch engines that are optimized for software-defined networking (SDN) and run at 6.4 terabits per second. Such capabilities are important for the larger data centers and high-performance computing (HPC) environments that Broadcom is targeting, all of which are dealing with having to process and analyze the increasingly massive amounts of data being generated.

The Tomahawk II follows the release in recent years of the vendor's Tomahawk and Trident chips, which have become among the most widely deployed Ethernet processors. The new silicon will double the bandwidth and resource capacity of the Tomahawk chips, according to Ram Velaga, senior vice president and general manager of switch products at Broadcom.

"We expect this to accelerate 100G adoption in the next wave of data centers, while delivering network scale and visibility for public [and] private cloud computing, storage and HPC fabrics," Velaga said in a statement, adding that the new chips will drive the 25G/100G infrastructure that was established with the Tomahawk line.

At a time when such trends as cloud computing, the proliferation of mobile devices, the internet of things (IoT) and data analytics are growing, networks are getting renewed attention from vendors and end users. Broadcom is seeing increasing competition in the space, from established chip makers like Intel and startups like Barefoot Networks, which earlier this year rolled out its Tofino programmable Ethernet switch chipsets with speeds up to 6.5T bps.

In an email sent to eWEEK, Barefoot co-founder and CEO Martin Izzard said that while the new Tomahawk II offers more bandwidth, it doesn't come with the programmability that's needed and that the company's Tofino chips offer.

However, Broadcom officials pointed to the familiarity and strength of the Tomahawk II's architecture and feature set, saying it will enable vendors to create and deploy products more quickly and will accelerate the migration to 100GbE interconnects.

Tomahawk II is manufactured in a 16-nanometer process, and includes large on-chip forwarding tables and packet buffer memory. The chips also include the latest generation of Broadcom's instrumentation and control capabilities that deliver enhanced traffic load balancing, network visibility and control of traffic provisioning, officials said.

The chips also provide advanced support for the OpenFlow SDN protocol through its Broadcom OF-DPA technology, and overlay and tunneling support that includes VXLAN, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and network virtualization using generic routing encapsulation (NVGRE).