New Broadcom chip brings 3.2 Tbits of bandwidth to power SDN

New 25/50 GbE standard should successfully supplant 40 GbE in SDN-focused datacenters.

Broadcom has announced that they are sampling quantities of their new Tomahawk chip in the just released StrataXGS Tomahawk series of switches.

The new Broadcom BCM56960 chip, with over 7 billion transistors, can support 32 ports of 100GE, 64 ports of 40GE/50GE or 128 ports of 25GE on a single chip.

With this 3.2 Tbits of bandwidth the new ASIC offers more than 2.5 times the bandwidth of the two-year-old Trident generation of chips from Broadcom.

Broadcom, one of the five primary forces behind the 25 GbE standard (along with Arista Networks, Google, Microsoft, and Mellanox Technologies) expects datacenter operators to adopt these higher performance switches as direct 10G top-of-rack and 40G end-of-row replacements for existing switch fabrics. This is because they should be able to retain their existing wiring plant and gain the bandwidth necessary to support scale-out and extremely flexible SDN networking.

Broadcom reports that the new 25 G ports, properly implemented in a leaf-spine architecture, will allow cable plant to be reduced as much as 75 percent and increase node support by 400 percent when compared to current 40G technologies.

The Tomahawk series also offers a new packet-processing engine called FlexXGS that is designed to handle changing workloads by giving datacenter operators detailed control over user-configurable functions for flow processing, security, network virtualization, measurement/monitoring, congestion management and traffic engineering.

The Broadview instrumentation set allows operators to drill down to get switch level analytics with full visibility of the network. Optimized for SDN application ecosystems the management software provides streaming network congestion detection, packet tracing, link health and utilization monitoring, and application flow and debug statistics.

Broadcom is not the first vendor to introduce this level of bandwidth and support for 25 GbE. As mentioned earlier, they are just one of the five early developers of the standard, but they do hold the dominant position in the high-performance GbE market. With greater densities, lower power consumption, and higher efficiency than previous GbE generations, the new Tomahawk chips and switches based on this technology should be an attractive proposition to datacenter operators looking for in-place upgrades.