Zarlink Introduces ClassSwitch Ethernet Platform Targeting IP Video Distribution and Network Security

Integrated packet management features support cost-effective design of networking equipment powering roll out of secure IP-based services


OTTAWA - Zarlink Semiconductor (NYSE/TSX:ZL) today introduced the first two devices in its new ClassSwitch platform of single- chip, full-service Layer 2 Ethernet switches designed for network access equipment supporting packet-based applications, such as IPTV (Internet Protocol television).

Zarlink's ClassSwitch platform supports the cost-effective design of line cards or compact systems deployed in Central Offices, Cable Head-Ends or Customer Premises Equipment that must aggregate, inspect and modify multiple real-time applications delivered over Fast and Gigabit Ethernet. The devices enable IP multicast packet-forwarding service distribution, a key element in the delivery of IP video in the first mile.

The platform includes the ZL(TM)33042 with 24 FE (Fast Ethernet) + 2 GE (Gigabit Ethernet) port configurations and the ZL33046 Ethernet switch delivering 16 FE + 2 GE port configurations. Future devices will incorporate lower and higher data throughput and optional port count configurations.

"With the demand for IP video applications over packet networks and escalating security threats, operators must guarantee proper handling of IP multicast traffic while ensuring policy off-load and content protection," said Mauricio Peres, product line director, Packet Switching, Zarlink Semiconductor. "Our carrier-grade ClassSwitch platform integrates advanced packet identification and user flow policing, metering and filtering to support effective IP policy provisioning, allowing network operators to efficiently deliver advanced applications."

Growing demand for real-time packet services, including television over broadband, requires network access equipment that more efficiently analyzes and manages network traffic. Pacific Crest estimates the IPTV market will grow from 3 million subscribers today to over 25 million in 2008, and 75 million in 2010.

In response, carriers are evolving their networks to better support triple play voice, video and data services. According to In-Stat Market Research, IP/Ethernet DSLAM (digital subscriber line access multiplexer) ports will account for 75% of worldwide DSLAM ports by 2009. Infonetics Research forecasts a 310% growth in PON (passive optical network) equipment by 2008, with equipment sales hitting US$2.2 billion.

Identifying end-user packet flows

As IP applications and web-based services dominate network traffic, access equipment must be able to efficiently identify and handle an increasing number of IP-based "user packet flow" types. For example, IPTV, VoIP, video-on- demand, and control and signaling messages are distinct flows that must be uniquely managed.

Zarlink's ClassSwitch platform provides high intelligence for aggregation equipment, while lowering equipment design costs by integrating multiple features on a single chip. Packets entering the devices are classified to a flow based on user-defined rules, using information such as frame source and destination address or applications using L2 (Layer 2) to L7 (Layer 7) fields of incoming packets. Up to 1,024 distinct flows can be created per device. The architecture supports per-flow two-rate, three-color metering and policing. Scheduling algorithms, such as SP (strict priority) and WFQ (weighted fair queuing), manage packets and prioritize queued traffic.

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