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Mindspeed Technologies(TM), Newport Beach, Calif., the Internet infrastructure business of Conexant Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq:CNXT), has introduced the first in a family of off-the-shelf intelligent switch fabric devices for high-capacity, high-speed switching equipment.

Mindspeed's iScale(TM) switch fabric chipset will ease system design and speed up time-to-market cycles for high-density Internet protocol (IP) switches, 10 Gbps Ethernet switches, storage routers, Web switches, multi-gigabit IP and asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) core routers, and digital cross-connect systems.

The switch fabric transfers data between line cards in sophisticated networking equipment and determines the overall capacity and key features of the system.

The new iScale chipset joins the company's physical-layer (PHY) line interfaces, framers and network processors to complete one of the industry's most comprehensive portfolios of networking system components.

"We are proud to announce the availability of the industry's most integrated, scalable and comprehensive off-the-shelf switch fabric -- and a key building block for a family of seamlessly integrated system solutions coming from Mindspeed," said Raouf Halim, CEO of Mindspeed Technologies.

"By combining the iScale chipset with our network processors, high-speed framers and PHY devices, we now offer the complete solution our customers need to get to market faster with new communication system designs."

"The market for off-the-shelf switch fabric solutions is wide open and poised for tremendous growth as vendors are now looking to silicon merchants for this critical component of high-speed communications equipment," said John Metz, executive vice president for the IT consulting and market research firm Sterling Research.

"Mindspeed has achieved a level of performance and integration that directly addresses the sweet spot of the high-performance networking market -- the metro and access segments. It's the right product at the right time for this rapidly evolving market."

Mindspeed's iScale chipset uses a single-stage architecture that enables manufacturers to develop a compact switch card design that linearly scales in bandwidth from 40 Gbps to 320 Gbps. The breadth of possible iScale configurations ranges from 4 OC-192 ports (or 16 OC-48 ports) to as many as 32 OC-192 ports (128 OC-48 ports).

The protocol-agnostic iScale solution leverages the proven technology of Mindspeed's industry-leading SkyRail(TM) transceivers, which provide 3.125 Gbps of bandwidth while using the low-cost complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) process.

"Until now, the industry has been unable to integrate high-speed transceiver links to make high-capacity switch fabric silicon, and the added expense and complexity of external transceivers has limited the widespread adoption of off-the-shelf solutions for next-generation switching equipment," said Michelle Zoncick, director of marketing with Mindspeed's Broadband Internetworking Systems business unit.

"Mindspeed's iScale switch fabric chipset solves the problem using our proven CMOS transceiver technology while providing the most comprehensive feature set available in an off-the-shelf switch fabric.

"The iScale solution decreases component- and pin-count while improving power efficiency, and it reduces both the height and footprint of today's switches, routers and other equipment used for switching and routing in multi-service, multi-protocol metropolitan area network (MAN), wide area network (WAN) and storage area network (SAN) equipment."

Technical Details

Mindspeed's iScale switch fabric solution gives designers the cost and size benefits afforded by off-the-shelf solutions, without the design complexity associated with the use of external transceivers and schedulers.

The two-chip set consists of a queue manager that supports either two OC-192 ports or eight OC-48 ports and a crossbar switch whose 256 Gbps of data throughput enables the industry's fastest switching performance.

Network processors that are used with Mindspeed's iScale solution can "fire and forget," due to the iScale switch fabric's loss-less switching approach that offloads the network processor of tracking cells sent to the switch fabric and its enhanced non-blocking architecture that prevents "head-of-line" blocking using integrated memory and a 2x internal speed-up factor.

Also, distributed schedulers throughout the switch fabric eliminate the scheduling bottlenecks commonly associated with a centralized scheduler and enable the switch fabric to easily scale to higher speeds.

The protocol-agnostic iScale switch fabric chipset supports all types of data traffic, including IP, ATM, Gigabit Ethernet and synchronous optical network/synchronous digital hierarchy (SONET/SDH). It also supports time division multiplexing (TDM), Frame Relay, multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), label switching and tag switching.

All configurations support eight priority classes with strict or weighted round-robin scheduling (for both unicast and multicast data traffic) to support quality of service (QoS) applications. This enables the iScale solution to support a variety of requirements for a broad range of WAN, MAN and SAN equipment.

Each iScale port switches on every cell boundary at a rate of 20 million cells per second. With an internal speed-up factor of two, each port can operate internally at a rate of 40 million fixed-length cells per second. Conversely, this speed-up factor provides ample room to gracefully degrade performance in the event of a switch failure.

The switch fabric is fully fault-tolerant, supporting up to eight independent switching domains and is capable of tolerating single errors without losing or reordering cells. It also supports hot-swap capability, enabling live board insertion/removal from an active system, and its low chip count enables all devices to be placed on a single board for 1+1 redundancy using only two slots in a chassis.

Pricing and Availability

The CX27300 iScale switch fabric chipset will sample in June and volume production will commence in the fourth quarter of 2001. It provides a standard five-signal 1149.1 JTAG test port for boundary scan test purposes. The CX27301 Queue Manager device is packaged in a 680-pin plastic cavity down ball grid array (CDBGA), and the CX27302 Crossbar Switch device is packaged in a 680-pin plastic CDBGA.

OEM pricing in volumes of 1,000 is $599 for the CX27301 Queue Manager and $599 for the CX27302 Crossbar Switch.

About Conexant Systems, Inc.

Conexant Systems is a worldwide leader in semiconductor system solutions for communications applications. Conexant leverages its expertise in mixed signal processing to deliver integrated systems and semiconductor products through two separate businesses: Mindspeed Technologies and Conexant.

Mindspeed Technologies is focused on Internet infrastructure products including WAN transport, multiservice access and broadband access for applications that extend from the edge of the Internet all the way to its optical core.

Conexant's personal networking business is focused on digital infotainment, personal imaging, wireless communications and personal computing products that are used in mobile communications and the broadband digital home.

Conexant has headquarters in Newport Beach, and delivered revenues of $2.1 billion for fiscal 2000. The company is a member of the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 indices.

For more information, visit and or call 508/621-0657.
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Publication:Computer Protocols
Article Type:Product Announcement
Date:Jun 1, 2001

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