Agere Systems announces world's fastest switching chip.
The groundbreaking chip switches voice, data, and video signals at least four times faster than all other competing single chip switches. China-based Zhongxing Telecom Equipment Corporation (ZTE)--the largest listed telecommunications equipment manufacturer in China*--is designing in Agere's chip for use in its multi-service switching equipment platform.
Switching chips are the engines that drive the vast majority of communications equipment, moving voice telephone calls, wireless Internet data, video streaming files, and other types of communications signals through network systems. Agere is the world's number one suppler of switching chips.
Agere's chip, called the Protocol Independent Stand-Alone Switch (PI- 40SAX), is a key engine driving an important shift in the communications equipment industry to a lower cost structure. For the next several years, the industry's equipment will have to be much more reliable, much smaller, offer many more services, and still deliver much higher capacity and speeds-and cost much less.
"The PI-40SAX--the third evolution of Agere's switching chip product line--will empower telecom original equipment manufacturers of the world to revolutionize the way carriers look at their equipment and could very well be the catalyst needed to help telecommunications service providers to finally return to profitability," Eric Mantion, an analyst with In-Stat/MDR. "Agere's PI-40SAX switch chip is an outstanding device targeted at the markets that have been most resistant to the economic downturn, such as pedestal digital subscriber line access multiplexer systems, wireless infrastructure equipment, and storage area network systems. In the end, Agere's new multi-service chip is a strong foundational product from which customers can build today yet still use for years to come."
Agere's chip switches voice, data, and video signals at an aggregated switching speed of 80 Gigabits per second (Gbits/s). An aggregated speed of 80 Gbits/s guarantees a minimum of 40 Gbits/s of speed and bandwidth for current and future applications by users of switched voice, data, and video services-four times faster than the nearest competing single chip offering. This is achieved using Agere's patented scheduling technology, which times and sets priorities for individual traffic types the chip supports.
Agere's competitors can only achieve this equivalent of 40 Gbits/s input speed using three or more chips. This dramatic three-to-one or better chip reduction slashes communications equipment switching costs for Agere's customers by nearly 70 percent.
Agere's chip can provide guaranteed bandwidth for prioritized services and efficient use of switch capacity for all multi-service applications. The chip switches and isolates customer voice, data, and video at minimum rates of 40 Gbits/s. The chip enables a telecommunications network to simultaneously switch 320,000 voice and data calls--eight times as many as the industry's state-of-the-art Class 5 switching equipment. Put another way, the chip has roughly enough bandwidth to handle the voice and data telecommunications switching needs of the entire population of people living in the cities of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania or Haikou, China.
"This new Agere chip opens doors to much more attractive cost models for equipment and service providers aimed at jumpstarting the communications industry back to its feet and running at a faster pace again," said Mr. Ma Hong Bing, chief technology officer with ZTE's Networking Division. "There is no doubt about the fact that this chip takes multi-service switching to new and unprecedented levels of performance and cost reduction."
The switching chip market amounted to approximately $325 million in 2002 and is expected to grow to $915 million by 2006, according to CIBC World Markets, a market research firm. Protocol-independent switching chips can be sold into more than a dozen different target markets.
Agere's innovative chip enables higher capacity and less expensive delivery of multiple broadband services using current and future equipment transmission standards. These include higher-speed, lower cost, and more intelligent digital subscriber line (DSL), third-generation (3G) wireless data, and streaming multimedia services.
"This multi-service chip shrinks the size of today's refrigerator-sized switching equipment down to the size of a pizza box," said Mark Pinto, vice president and general manager of Agere's Processing, Aggregation, and Switching Division. "That shrinkage enables telecom service providers to squeeze much more capacity into much smaller amounts of space, thereby dramatically reducing real estate, power, and operational costs. The flexible chip resolves issues of paramount concern to communications equipment makers and service providers in this tough economic environment-how to dramatically lower switching and system costs while increasing system capacity, increasing service offerings, and minimizing future investment costs."
The single chip also offers multiple technology protocol benefits. For example, the chip can handle Time Division Multiplex (TDM) bytes, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) cells, and Internet Protocol (IP) packets. TDM, ATM, and IP are the three major technologies used to transport information through communications equipment.
The significance of this capability is that manufacturers can use this chip for their current equipment, as well as upgraded equipment they deploy in the future, without having to invest in changing the chip architecture as various transport technologies such as TDM, ATM, and IP evolve and get deployed in equipment.
This scalable feature translates to lower overall switching electronics and equipment costs, simplified and faster equipment upgrades, and accelerated product deliveries. Already available to customers, Agere's chip is targeted for use in various types of wireline and wireless communications equipment, including digital subscriber line access multiplexers (DSLAMs), radio network controllers, routers, and multi-service platforms. Agere is specifically targeting the enterprise, metro, access, and core transport market segments where these types of equipment are deployed. Protocol independent chips can be sold into more than a dozen different markets.