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Jericho2c+ Brings 7nm to Routers

September 15, 2020

Author: Bob Wheeler

This month, Broadcom sampled its first 7nm router chip, the Jericho2c+ packet processor. The new line-card chip is compatible with the shipping 16nm Ramon fabric device, introduced with Jericho2 in 2018. In 2019, the company unveiled Jericho2c with half of Jericho2’s bandwidth, reducing power and cost for many service-provider designs. Jericho2c+ offers an upgrade path for both 16nm packet processors, reducing power per gigabit while increasing integration. It can also serve in data-center-interconnect (DCI) systems that link one data center to another. By integrating MACSec security, Jericho2c+ eliminates external MACSec PHYs from DCI systems.

The world of network-router chips makes for strange bedfellows. The leading network-equipment vendors develop in-house ASICs for their top-end routers, which target service-provider-core networks. Many also use merchant chips, however, in their higher-volume routers for metro aggregation, peering, and the edge. Broadcom offers the only merchant chips purpose-built for modular systems, by way of its decade-old Dune Networks acquisition.

In 2014, however, two Dune founders started Leaba Semiconductor, and Cisco acquired the stealth-mode startup in 2016 for $320 million. Leaba’s design shipped in late 2019 as the Cisco Silicon One Q100, which serves in new 8000-Series routers. More startling was Cisco’s newfound flexible business model, opening the possibility of selling chips rather than complete systems. At the same time, the company’s NCS 5500 routers continue to use Broadcom’s Jericho line, as do an increasing number of white-box systems.

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