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Cavium Scales Down Xpliant Switch

August 8, 2017

Author: Bob Wheeler

While other switch-chip vendors have introduced products for 200G and 400G Ethernet, Cavium has instead moved down market. Its new XP60 and XP70 switch chips represent the second-generation Xpliant design, named after the startup Cavium acquired in 2014. They target 10G Ethernet and 25G Ethernet, respectively, and range from 1.8Tbps down to 280Gbps in aggregate bandwidth. The new chips expand Cavium’s addressable markets to include enterprise and carrier-access networks as well as mainstream cloud data centers.

The company sampled the new XP60 and XP70 families in 2Q17. The top XP70 variant (CNX78072) offers 72x25Gbps serdes for 1.8Tbps of aggregate bandwidth; it handles up to 18x100GbE ports, 72x25GbE ports, or a mix of the two speeds. A 48x25GbE+6x100GbE top-of-rack (ToR) switch is a typical configuration. Another version, the CNX78061, provides 48x10GbE+6x100GbE ports. The XP60 models offer only 10GbE/40GbE ports, and the top-end CNX68028 has 72x10Gbps serdes for 720Gbps total. The XP60 and XP70 are more than just derivatives of Cavium’s first-generation chip; they include significant architectural enhancements to improve delivered performance and add telemetry features.

By providing customer programmability, the XP60 and XP70 should appeal to customers that wish to implement custom features. Although Cavium must face Broadcom as it enters new Ethernet switching segments, it’s avoiding the increasingly crowded hyperscale-data-center market. Given its success in the embedded market, we think extending Xpliant outside of data centers is an effective growth strategy.

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