Broadcom is shipping the latest version of its programmable Ethernet switch chip, Jericho2. The chip maker says the new system-on-chip (SoC) switches target service provider networks, edge and core routers, cloud data centers, and enterprise campuses.
The new chip has up to 10 Tb/s switching capacity per device. Compared to its predecessor, Jericho+, the updated device provides five times higher bandwidth at 70 percent lower power per gigabit, the company claims. This is important as carriers look to upgrade their routed network infrastructure to address the major growth in bandwidth, driven by new services and the introduction of 5G mobile networks. Jericho2 makes it economical to build the needed edge and core networks to support these new use cases, according to Broadcom.
“The increase in performance is in part due to the gain of moving from 28nm [nanometer] to 16nm silicon process and in part due to the fact that the data-path efficiency was doubled by rewriting it from scratch,” said Oozie Parizer, senior director of marketing, core switch group at Broadcom, in an email.
Jericho2 also has new network interfaces — 400 gigabit Ethernet (GE) and 200 GE — as well as new high-bandwidth memory integrated into the switch.
Parizer said the packet processing data path is also more powerful than the previous device. For example, Jericho2 provides 50 percent more lookups per packet and better handling of tunnel encapsulation and de-capsulation, he added.
Jericho2 Elastic Pipe
The new chip also uses something Broadcom calls Elastic Pipe technology, which Parizer said is trying to provide a better solution for two aspects of switching and routing.
First, it increases the ability to “borrow” memory from one database to the other to address different networking applications. It does this by creating a centralized pool of memory — a modular database — that can be accessed by all stages in the pipe. As the network needs change, the modular database settings can change to address things like new protocols, different scale, or additional services, Parizer explained.
“For example a core router would mostly need a large forwarding table, while an edge router will need a smaller forwarding database and bigger tunnel encapsulation and tunnel termination databases,” he said. “As the database is accessed from different stages in the pipe, it is a real technological challenge, and Jericho2 solves this challenge.”
Secondly, the Elastic Pipe technology “future proofs” the device, Parizer said. A typical cycle, from the time a device is first specified to the time it is deployed in a real network, is two to three years. New protocols and standards usually emerge during this lifecycle.
Jericho2 is programmable in that it has the ability to modify lookup keys, results, and actions of the existing stages of the pipe. “The Elastic Pipe takes this one step further, by adding on top of the programmable stages a new concept of ‘spare stages’ — matrix of programmable resources — a pool of unused pipeline stages and resources, that can be added to the existing pipeline and extend it,” Parizer said. “They can be added between any of the existing stages in a flexible manner.”
Broad Industry Support
The company won’t say which of its existing customers have signed agreements to use the new devices. But a slew of “happy customer” quotes, from AT&T, China Telecom, Tencent, Arista Networks, Huawei, ZTE, and Quanta Cloud Technology, among others, heap praise on Jericho2.
“At AT&T we are fully committed to leading the industry toward a new networking paradigm, one that delivers faster networks, quicker innovation cycles and lower CAPEX and OPEX, while most importantly — staying ahead of our customer needs,” said Chris Rice, SVP of Domain 2.0 architecture and design at AT&T, in a statement. “Merchant silicon, as well as hardware/software disaggregation, are instrumental to this future. Broadcom’s Jericho2 10Tb/s Router chip is in line with this vision and could enable AT&T to accelerate this transition.”