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Cam eases data strain

Speeding data transmission through content addressable memories. By Graham Pitcher.

With the use of intranets and the internet growing in a seemingly exponential fashion, local area networks are being put under increasing strain. Overall bandwidth requirements are growing rapidly and applications such as L2 bridging and L3 routing are now typically implemented in hardware.

New requirements, including flow analysis, policy based routing and end to end quality of service, are increasing the variety and quantity of lookups required. Every packet passing through a network must now be examined a number of times and large hardware bridge/router implementations require a forwarding decision to be made every few nanoseconds. This is achieved using specialised devices known as content addressable memories, or CAMs.

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Graham Pitcher

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