The shift to cloud services and virtual networks has made data center switches — and the switch devices used in them — key to delivering maximum network performance and service flexibility.
Maximum network performance requires low latency switches with 25Gbit/s serial interfaces and 25GE and 100GE ports. Maximum service flexibility requires switches with support for software-defined networking (SDN) and network virtualization, third-party or open operating systems and in-service upgrades for new features and functions. Switch devices already in production support many of these requirements. The next generation of switch devices, some already sampling to customers, promise to deliver on most or all of these requirements.
The high-performance switch chipset market has been dominated by Broadcom for many years. Broadcom was the first switch chipset manufacturer to deliver integrated 10GE switch devices specifically optimized for the data center market. The company has continued to develop its integrated StrataXGS switch architecture with incremental improvements and complemented this with developments of the programmable StrataDNX switch chipset architecture acquired from Dune. The dominance of Broadcom is now being challenged by several silicon vendors with new products based on well-established switching technology and by several startups. All these companies have identified specific differentiators, including capacity, the number of 25GE ports, programmability, latency and support for carrier Ethernet applications.