Fulcrum Microsystems has announced the FocalPoint FM6000 series of fully integrated wire-speed 10G and 40G Ethernet switch chips, which incorporate the company's new and innovative Alta high-speed Ethernet switching architecture.

One key new feature of the FM6000 series switches is Fulcrum's FlexPipe low-latency packet-processing pipeline, which can parse, modify and apply multiple rules to traffic at more than 1 Billion packets per second in a completely deterministic manner. FlexPipe also can be upgraded in the field to support future datacenter networking protocols as they emerge.

The FM6000 series devices are based on Fulcrum's Alta switch architecture that, in addition to FlexPipe, features flexible 10G and 40G Ethernet port logic and third-generation RapidArray output-queued shared-memory architecture. Alta-based FocalPoint devices achieve unprecedented performance while maintaining low cut-through packet latencies of less than 300nS, regardless of configuration or features enabled. Fulcrum's pioneering efforts in developing low-latency Ethernet switch technology has made FocalPoint the preferred datacenter fabric building-block for applications such as financial trading and computer clustering in today's virtualized and high-scale datacenters.

Virtualization is increasing the density of server farms and enabling datacenter operators to efficiently deploy cloud services. In addition, new server architectures include multi-core processors, increasing network bandwidth requirements. The FlexPipe packet-processing pipeline in the FM6000 series devices delivers full line-rate performance across up to 72 ports, offering non-blocking throughput for thousands of virtualized flows.

"Our Dell'Oro forecasting models show that 10GE server ports will grow dramatically in coming years, which will drive demand for high density 10Gb switches and also the demand for 40Gb Ethernet uplinks," said Alan Weckel, director of Ethernet research for Dell'Oro Group. "Given this expected demand, the launch of this switch from Fulcrum is very timely."

FlexPipe allows the functionality of several key logic blocks, such as the packet parser and egress frame modification unit, to be upgraded to support new datacenter networking standards or proprietary performance-enhancing application tags. With this functionality, switch manufacturers can sell switching systems that are field upgradable with support for emerging datacenter interconnect topologies such as TRILL and SPB, as well as emerging virtualized networking standards such as 802.1bg (Edge Virtual Bridging) and 802.1bh (Port Extenders).

There are nine devices in the FM6000 series, each offering a different port configuration and total bandwidth, ranging from 160Gbps to 720Gbps. FM6000 series switches can be used to build very high port-count top-of-rack or end-of-row datacenter switches with industry-leading latency, performance, and scale. With the ability to drive SFP+ direct-attach copper cable directly without the need for an external PHY, the FM6000 series reduces the latency, cost and power of these top-of-rack switch designs. To enable network convergence, the FM6000 supports the efficient mix of storage, HPC and LAN data traffic with extensive QoS and datacenter bridging (DCB) features such as PFC, ETS, and QCN, simultaneously supporting lossless operation alongside bandwidth and latency guarantees. Additionally, system-wide management features offer line rate per-flow monitoring and policing for clear visibility and a single point of management, reducing overall system complexity.

"Fulcrum is changing the game again by delivering standards-based switching solutions that provide advanced features and shatter all established benchmarks for high bandwidth, low latency and power efficiency," said Mike Zeile, Fulcrum Microsystems president and COO. "The FM6000 series, with our revolutionary Alta architecture, is helping define the future of virtual computing by delivering the performance needed for next-generation datacenter fabrics."

Configuration and Availability

All nine members of the FocalPoint FM6000 series will be generally available in 2Q 2011.