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Startup introduces switch silicon with 12.8 Tbps processing speed

Innovium, led by former execs at Cavium and Broadcom, is targeting its switch silicon to hyperscale data centers as more workloads move to the cloud.

Startup Innovium Inc. has introduced switch silicon with a processing speed of 12.8 Tbps, almost doubling the performance of competing products.

The company, led by execs who formerly held senior positions at Cisco, Broadcom, Cavium and others, previewed its programmable Teralynx chip at last week's Open Compute Summit. The chip will be ready for sampling this fall, although the software development kit (SDK) and other collateral is available now for selected customers.

Innovium, based in San Jose, Calif., joins a chip market dominated by Broadcom, which in October released its latest iteration of the Tomahawk line, the 6.5 Tbps StrataXGS. Another startup, Barefoot Networks, also released a high-speed programmable chip, the 6.5 Tbps Tofino, earlier this year.

High-performance data centers the target market

Innovium is marketing its switch silicon to hyperscale data centers and other institutions with high-performance computing needs. The 16-nanometer linewidth Teralynx can support up to 32 ports of 400 GbE, 64 ports of 200 GbE or 128 ports of 100 GbE in a single device with a latency of less than 350 nanoseconds, according to Amit Sanyal, Innovium's vice president of product management and marketing. The company is also making available other versions of the chip, rated at 9.6, 6.4 or 3.2 Tbps, for other markets.

Bob Wheeler, principal analyst at The Linley Group in Mountain View, Calif., said Teralynx "leapfrogs Broadcom in terms of the density of the switch and supporting the next-gen optical technologies coming into the market" required to underpin 400 GbE. Public cloud providers like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services need switch silicon that can handle higher speeds to meet the increasing number of workloads migrating to the cloud. "When you look at Microsoft Azure, for example, they are deploying 50 GbE today and will need 100 GbE in a few years," Wheeler said.

Up to 92% of all workloads will be cloud-based by 2020, according to the Cisco Cloud Index.

Chip supports OpenSwitch, includes analytics

Functionality is enabled through open source programming software and standard APIs. Telemetry and performance analytics tools are also included. The SDK supports both OpenSwitch and the Open Compute Project's Switch Abstraction Interface, Sanyal said.

Innovium is marketing the switch silicon in 1, 2 or 4 RU configurations. The 4 RU designs use Inphi Corp.'s chipset technology, leveraging existing QSFP 28 transceivers for 100 GbE connectivity.

Alan Weckel, founder of 650 Group in Portola Valley, Calif., said the market is ready for another silicon supplier. "These cloud customers are looking for alternatives. They aren't upset [with the market leaders], but they prefer to look at a multivendor solution. The opportunity is there for Innovium to gain market share. Four-hundred gig is the next big milestone in data centers and that's going to shape that market for years to come."

Next Steps

Working with the Open Compute Project

Moving business apps to the cloud  

The rise of merchant silicon

Dig Deeper on Data Center Networking