Industry’s first terabit-scale Ethernet PHY enables highest-density 400 GbE & FlexE connectivity

29 May 2019

Microchip Microsemi MC1463 META-DX1

META-DX1 uniquely combines 100 GbE, 400 GbE, FlexE, nanosecond timestamping accuracy & MACsec security engine in a single chip with terabit capacity, enabling line cards to quadruple in capacity & meet 5G timing requirements.

As cloud and telecom service providers build out their networks, they need routing and switching platforms that enable them to reduce costs, optimise bandwidth and increase capacity, security and flexibility. Microchip Technology, via its Microsemi subsidiary, is the first to enable this unique set of capabilities with its META-DX1 family of Ethernet Physical-Layer (PHY) devices that integrates, onto a single chip, Ethernet ports from 1 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) to 400 GbE, flexible Ethernet (FlexE), Media Access Control Security (MACsec) link encryption and nanosecond timestamping accuracy at terabit capacity.

The industry is transitioning from 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) to 400 GbE to support traffic within hyperscale data centres. According to Cisco’s Global Cloud Index, this traffic will quadruple by 2021 with data centre-to-data centre traffic growing at more than a 30% cumulative annual growth rate (CAGR). The META-DX1 enables line cards to quadruple in capacity, from 3.6 terabits per second (Tbps) to 14.4 Tbps with 36 ports of 400 GbE or 144 ports of 100 GbE, while supporting key features needed by service providers.

The META-DX1 MACsec engine secures traffic leaving the data centre or enterprise premises. FlexE enables both cloud and telecom service providers to meet capacity requirements while reducing fibre-plant capital expenditures by optimally configuring links beyond today’s fixed-rate Ethernet so they can use low-cost, high-volume optics. The META-DX1 family uniquely combines MACsec and FlexE into one solution to meet the next phase of capacity scaling in Data Centre Interconnect (DCI) buildouts.

Further differentiating META-DX1, its integrated flexible crosspoint switching capability makes it easier for OEMs to navigate the market transition from 25 Gbps NRZ and 56 Gbps PAM-based architectures by enabling them to support a single design or SKU for both 100 GbE (QSFP28) and 400 GbE (QSFP-DD) optics. By providing high-performance timestamping with nanosecond-level accuracy on every port, META-DX1 also ensures network buildouts will meet the challenging timing requirements of 5G mobile base station deployments.

"The industry foresaw challenges and limitations with traditional fixed-rate Ethernet MACs when scaling data-centre interconnects, and it created FlexE as a solution," said Bob Wheeler, Principal Analyst for Networking at The Linley Group. "Microchip's META-DX1 is an integral element, enabling FlexE on data-centre routers so that cloud service providers can maximize inter-data-center fibre capacity while simplifying network operations and management."

"The META-DX1 family was purpose-built to unify into a single hardware and software offering the broad range of capabilities service providers need in their network buildouts that connect enterprise and data centre services to the cloud and emerging 5G applications," said Babak Samimi, Vice President for Microchip's Communications business unit. "By delivering the highest-density Ethernet ports coupled with MACsec, FlexE and the nanosecond packet timing performance needed for 5G, we've introduced an innovative Ethernet connectivity platform for telecom and cloud service provider routers and switches, as well as optical transport equipment."

Product availability:
Initial META-DX1 family members will sample during the third calendar quarter of 2019. All are hardware-compatible and supported by the same Software Developer’s Kit (SDK).

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