RealTime IT News

Agere Touts High-Speed Switching Chip

Agere Systems on Monday announced the development of a new switching chip that transfers a minimum of 40 gigabits per second, at least four times the speed of comparable single chip switches.

The Allentown, PA-based Agere, known for its integrated circuit technology for data transfer and storage, said the latest chip -- the Protocol Independent Stand-Alone Switch (PI-40SAX) -- has the potential to shake-up the struggling telecommunications sector.

"(This chip) has the potential to revolutionize the economics, size, and multi-service performance and flexibility of communications network infrastructure equipment and consumer electronics devices for the next several years," the company said.

Because the new PI-40SAX chip can switch voice, data, and video signals at least four times faster than comparable chips, Agere said the three-to-one chip reduction would help slash communications equipment switching costs to its clients by up to 70 percent.

Additionally, Agere said a single chip transferring at very high speeds could help device manufacturers shrink the size of their products significantly.

The company, which sells chips to the likes of Lucent and Cisco Systems , has already bagged China's telco giant Zhongxing Telecommunication Equipment Co. as the first customer for the new PI-40SAX chip. Zhongxing plans to design the Agere chip for use in its multi-service switching equipment platform.

Switching chips are used to move voice telephone calls, wireless Internet data, video streaming files, and other types of communications signals through network systems.

In-Stat/MDR analyst Eric Mantion believes the new chip could help inject life into the telecommunications industry, which has had its share of bad news in recent times. "The 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," Mantion said.

Noting that it could take a while before the chips are built into new products, Mantion believes it is a "a strong foundational product from which customers can build today yet still use for years to come."

Agere said the PI-40SAX switches voice, data, and video signals at an aggregated switching speed of 80 Gigabits per second (Gbits/s), speeds that guarantee a minimum of 40 Gbits/s of speed and bandwidth for applications by users of switched voice, data, and video services.

The chips uses Agere's scheduling technology, which times and sets priorities for individual traffic types the chip supports.

Typically, the new chip could allow a telecommunications network to simultaneously switch 320,000 voice and data calls, about eight times more than can be handled by current 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," the company raved.

It said the chip, which is priced at $520 in production quantities of 10,000, could handle Time Division Multiplex (TDM) bytes, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) cells and Internet Protocol (IP) packets.