Lalit Merani, Lattice; Timo Koskiahde, Flexibilis
EETimes (9/7/2011 11:25 AM EDT)
Lattice Semiconductor and Flexibilis have released a Gigabit Ethernet Switch IP core that is scalable, non-blocking, and extensible…
Underlying functionality of modern Ethernet switches
Modern Ethernet switches have added significant new functionality to Ethernet while decreasing port prices, becoming the ubiquitous building block of any intelligent network:
- Ethernet switches support auto-configuration; i.e. plug-and-play operation, and also automatic reconfiguration if there are network changes.
- Ethernet switches learn about the network by discovering network addresses (Address Learning). Switches segment users into logical groups to allow efficient provisioning of services (Broadcast and Collision Domains).
- Switches decide how to treat the traffic that is moving through them from the various ports, based on their knowledge of the network (Forwarding and Filtering).
- Ethernet switches also provide the means to handle Quality of Service (QoS). As the type of applications and the data that they generate proliferate, there is a growing need to ensure the condition and reliability of services. For example, real-time applications such as video, voice and critical control data can be assigned a higher priority than web browsing and other non-critical data operations. QoS functionality in Ethernet switches provides a mechanism to classify these various traffic types and treat them appropriately.
The functionality that Ethernet switches support is evolving, not only in current applications like enterprise and data centers, but also in telecommunications providers’ transport networks, industrial networking such as factory automation, and energy utility networks like Smart Grids, as described below.
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