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Pointing to the future

Programmable platforms support moves to new comms interfaces. By Roy Rubenstein.

The need for ever greater traffic throughput in Ethernet switches and telecom equipment designs is forcing chip vendors to look beyond established interfaces such as the Optical Internetworking Forum’s (OIF) System Packet Interface Level 4 (SPI-4.2) and the XAUI 10Gbit/s Ethernet interface. The picture, however, is far from clear.
“We have asked system vendors [about interfaces] and there are a number of in house implementations that are not standard,” said Uday Mudoi, a strategic marketing manager at Vitesse. “We have tried to work with as many vendors as possible and hope the industry comes behind a standard, but we can’t wait; we see a need [for high speed interfaces] now.”
The larger equipment vendors favour proprietary interfaces – used in part to protect their designs from being easily replaced with competitors’ equipment – alongside established standard interfaces.
The platform vendors are also considering emerging standards – such as the OIF’s Scalable System Packet Interface (SPI-S) and Interlaken – that build on SPI-4.2 and are targeted at new technology standards such as 40Gbit/s and 100Gbit/s Ethernet. Interlaken, initially developed by Cisco Systems and Cortina Systems, is now backed by the Interlaken Alliance.
To add to the mix, another industry backed interface has emerged. Dubbed SPAUI, the interface is being proposed by fabless chip firm Dune Networks.

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Roy Rubenstein

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