Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cisco flows along with Interlaken

Not only does Cisco Systems continue to be one of the few big OEMs still developing a lot of ASICs, it continues to aggresively push use of its own chip-to-chip interconnect on most of them.

Known internally as "Spaui" because it is a mix of SPI-4 and Xaui, the interface will appear on at least 12 of the about 15 ASICs in the works at Cisco's storage networking group. Cisco co-developed the interface with Cortina Systems and announced it under the name Interlaken in April 2006. Named after the Swiss land between two lakes (pictured), the interface defines links running up to 20 Gbits/second.

The "Spaui" link is serving Cisco well, according to Tom Edsall, a senior vice president of Cisco's Datacenter Business Unit and chief architect of Cisco's MDS 9000 storage switch.

When last contacted, the Network Processing Forum (now part of the Optical Internetworking Forum) was working on its own SPI upgrade called the Scalable-SPI spec which would be an alternative to Interlaken. "I would have to see a significant advantage to make a change," said Edsall.

When you are cranking out 15 ASICs at a time for your own proprietary systems, you can afford to go your own way. –rbm

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