Barefoot Networks released the second generation of its P4-programmable Tofino Ethernet switch ASIC family, called Tofino 2. The new switch uses 7 nanometer (nm) technology to process packets at 12.8 Tb/s to better support hyperscale data centers and emerging network architectures and application workloads.
The company claims that Tofino 2 delivers twice the performance of its predecessor. It still leverages the open source programming language, P4, so that it can be deployed in a multitude of ways. Specifically, Tofino 2 can be deployed from a top-of-rack switch, a service provider router, or as an appliance. It delivers 32x400GE on a single chip for hyperscale data centers that require 400GE.
The switch appliance supports large table sizes for routing, tunnels, and ACLs. Tofino 2 offers support for Barefoot’s Smart Programmable Real-Time In-band Network Telemetry (SPRINT), which provides per-packet intelligent real-time visibility of network traffic. This can help enterprises log network activity to identify the root cause of outages.
Designed for infrastructure builders and solutions providers, Tofino 2 relies on a modular chiplet architecture that is ready for 112G SerDes (Serializer/Deserializer) and Silicon Photonics.
Barefoot launched its first programmable Ethernet switch, Tofino, in 2016 alongside P4. The company sought to make the data plane programmable so enterprises could implement high-performance applications on the data plane. It has also launched an analytics software called Deep Insight.
Tofino has a handful of big-name enterprise customers including Cisco, Arista, Tencent, and Fox Networks.
A number of companies are working on 7nm technology, though Barefoot says it is the first “switch ASIC” to deploy the technology. IBM is expected to tap Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) for its 7nm technology. While IBM has been using a contract chipmaker, Globalfoundries, to produce its chips, it may be making a switch, primarily motivated by TSMC’s use of 7nm technology. TSMC was the first to market this technology.
Additionally, Samsung also recently started producing 7nm chips, and Intel is expected to launch its long-awaiting 10 nm technology to compete with the 7nm technology sometime in “holiday of 2019.” In August, it admitted to difficulty developing the processor technology for 10nm chip manufacturing.
Huawei is also working on a line of low-power 310 chips that are 7nm-based and built on its Da Vinci AI architecture. Arm is expected to launch the first implementation of its technology for high performance computing, cloud, storage, network infrastructure, and edge computing in early 2019 on 7nm.