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New Ethernet network processors available from Caelera

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EZchip Technologies, a fabless semiconductor company providing Ethernet network processors, has released a new family of network processors targeting Ethernet Access applications.

Several models of the network processors, named NPA, will be offered in 2008 with combinations of 100-Mbit, 1-Gbit, and 10-Gbit Ethernet ports with an aggregate throughput of up to 10-Gbits.

The NPA product family addresses the transition of carrier access from ATM/TDM-based networks to Ethernet packet-based networks and the provisioning of triple-play services that command increased bandwidth and service guarantees to residential and business users.

According to the company, the addition of the NPA will round up EZchip's product offering to feature a series of Ethernet network processors for the carrier edge, metro, and access markets, with throughputs ranging from 1-Gbit to 100-Gbits and a common architecture and software.

EZchip says the NPA is a scaled down version of the company's NP-3 30-Gigabit network processor. It features the same architecture, integrated traffic management and full software compatibility with the NP-3. It provides system vendors with an integrated offering for a variety of carrier access applications, including:

  • Ethernet demarcation, access, and aggregation nodes
  • Wireless backhaul and base stations aggregation for mobile access
  • GPON/EPON aggregation nodes (OLT) for optical access and
  • VDSL aggregation nodes (DSLAM) for copper access

According to the company, the NPA provides system vendors with flexible packet processing and integrates key functions needed for access networks that deliver triple-play services. NPA highlights include:

  • Several chip models with programmable packet processing with throughput ranging from several Gigabits and up to 10-Gigabit throughput
  • Several chip models featuring multiple 10-Gigabit, 1-Gigabit and 100-Megabit Ethernet ports
  • Integrated hierarchical traffic management providing granular bandwidth control to enable the delivery of triple-play services in Ethernet networks
  • On-chip operations, administration and management (OAM) processing offload
  • Software compatibility with EZchip's present NP-2 and NP-3 network processors

Similar to EZchip's other network processors, the NPA family delivers a variety of applications such as L2 switching, Q-in-Q, PBT, VPLS, MPLS, and IPv4/IPv6 routing through programming.

EZchip says the NPA's flexible packet processing enables system designers to future proof their designs to support new protocols and features through software updates.

Packet parsing is supported for any field anywhere in the packet. Various table lookup options are provided with support for long lookup keys and results.

Flows are classified based on any combination of extracted packet information. Any packet header and content can be edited and packets can easily be replicated to support multicast applications, says the company.

A run to completion processing model guarantees support for processing scenarios of any complexity. Large code space is provided to support complex applications as well as true hitless code updates.

Integrated hierarchical traffic management assigns individual flows with specific Quality of Service (QoS) and enforces Service Level Agreements (SLA) for applications, services and users.

A variety of QoS services are provided, including flow-based metering, marking and policing, congestion avoidance through profile-based WRED early packet discards, shaping flows to conform to their assigned bandwidth properties and scheduling of flows using a priority scheme and Weighted Fair Queuing, say EZchip representatives.

NPA available from Caelera also features dedicated hardware for OAM processing offload. OAM is a set of specifications that provide the cornerstone for reliability and high availability in carrier Ethernet networks.

However, OAM processing burdens CESR equipment with significant processing overhead related to complex packet classification, simultaneous monitoring of many sessions and accurate bandwidth control, says EZchip.

By contrast, the NPA, through its processing flexibility, integrated traffic management and OAM support hardware, enables high-performance OAM processing that can adapt to changing standards and requirements, claims the company.

Several models of EZchip's NPA family of Ethernet access NPUs are scheduled to sample in 2008.

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