Innovium, a startup that’s designing a programmable chip for data center switches, has announced its first product, Teralynx. Innovium says the Teralynx 7 switch family offers up to 12.8 Tbps total throughput and supports 10/25/100/200/400GbE. The company also touts its 70Mbyte onboard buffer to provide very low latency.
The company is targeting massive-scale data center operators that want to meet specific networking requirements by customizing switching and routing functions or developing their own.
Innovium positions its new chip against incumbents such as Broadcom, in which functions are fixed in the silicon. Such chips only offer limited tweaking to the packet processing pipeline via proprietary SDKs.
Innovium and its investors are betting on the appeal of its chip to the largest data center operators who will be able to develop their own encapsulation protocols, extract reams of operational data for management and analytics, and enable match/action functions based on information in packet headers.
Aside from competing against incumbents, Innovium is going up against other startups developing programmable switch silicon. Recently a company called Barefoot Networks announced its own chipset, called Tofino.
Innovium cites one immediate difference: Innovium’s total throughput of 12.8Tbps nearly doubles the Tofino’s top throughput of 6.5Tbps.
However, Tofino is fully programmable; customers can decide exactly which functions and protocols to add to the chip. It’s essentially a blank slate.
By contrast, Innovium’s Teralynx will come with a comprehensive set of L2 features burned into chip, including support for a large number of MAC addresses, Spanning Tree, VLAN, LAG, and ACLs. It also supports common L3 features such as IPv4 and IPv6, ECMP, VRFs, MPLS, and more.
The company says that including widely used features and protocols on the chip is more efficient and makes it easier for customers to get up and running. It then provides a JSON interface that lets customers code new functions that are then compiled on the chip.
The programmatic interface is another distinction between Innovium and Barefoot. Barefoot is actively promoting P4, an open source language for programming network processors. If a robust community of developers create features and functions based on P4, Barefoot can take advantage of that development to increase the value of Tofino.
Innovium says P4 is immature, though it says it does use a P4 program for in-band telemetry. The company is also participating in the P4 project to monitor developments.
Software And Hardware
Switch silicon still needs an operating system. Innovium says it plans to support the Linux Foundation’s OpenSwitch and other open source NOSs.
On the hardware side, the company didn’t provide names but says it has engaged with a small number of OEMs, as well as key ODMs in Taiwan.
Innovium will offer Teralynx options for top of rack, leaf, and spine switches in throughput variants of 3.2, 6.4, 9.6, and 12.8Tbps.
The company says evaluation systems and silicon samples will be available in the third quarter of 2017.
Innovium was founded in 2015. The company has secured a total of $90 million in investment to date, including a series C of $38.3 million. Investors include Greylock Partners and Qualcomm Ventures.
The company’s 3 founders have extensive experience in the silicon business. CEO and cofounder Rajiv Khemani was formerly COO at Cavium. CTO and cofounder Puneet Agarwal was Senior Director and Distinguished Engineer at Broadcom, and VP of Engineering and cofounder Mohammad Issa was Broadcom’s VP of Engineering.