Marconi multiservice switch supports OC-192 ATM

Marconi Corp. PLC this week rolled out a 10G bit/sec ATM card for its BXR 48000 multiservice switch router, enabling users to prolong the life of their current ATM core networks before transitioning to IP/Multi-protocol Label Switching networks.

The new card, the OC-192c/STM-64 ATM module, enables users to support higher speed ATM backbones now and leave open the option of migrating later to MPLS as the technology matures and users' budgets allow.

Marconi is competing with other vendors of switches designed to provide a transition between older technologies, such as frame relay and ATM, and newer ones such as packet-over-SONET and MPLS. Market analysis firm Current Analysis includes Alcatel, Cisco, Lucent and Nortel among these competitors.

Some companies, like Lucent, say there is no market for OC-192c ATM, or that it is too technologically challenging to support ATM segmentation and reassembly (SAR) at 10G bit/sec. Cisco, meanwhile, recently unveiled a new set of ASICs to perform SAR at OC-192c. Nortel said it plans to eventually support OC-192c ATM on its Passport switches sometime after shipping OC-192c packet-over-SONET.

The U.S. Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C., which tests networking and computing gear for the Department of Defense, has run the new card through its paces and says it considers it ready for deployment in Defense Department networks. The lab has had the card for testing twice, and it successfully carried five 1.6G bit/sec video streams multiplexed on a single OC-192c ATM port, says Hank Dardy, Navy chief scientist at the lab's computational science center.

New ATM encryption devices also support OC-192c speeds, so this card could enable faster secure trunking in Defense Department networks, Dardy says. Encryption for IP is an order of magnitude slower, he says.

The card will also be attractive to service providers that have enough traffic to warrant faster trunking, but don't want to transition yet from ATM to MPLS. "This gives them a longer runway. It buys them more time so their transition will be more graceful," says Joe McGarvey, a senior analyst with Current Analysis.

Earlier, when the economy was better and carrier spending was projected to be higher, vendors thought MPLS conversions would be taking place faster than they are, McGarvey says.

He says the OC-192c card was developed for the Defense Department, and its delivery means the company can move on to developing other 10G bit/sec interfaces on its roadmap, including MPLS and packet-over-SONET.

The BXR 48000 card is available at the end of 2002. Marconi decined to disclose pricing.

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