Cisco’s nPower chips for moving data at 400 Gbps

cisco_networking_chip Semiconductors continue to advance, as a slew of announcements by Intel and Apple’s new A7 processor showed this week. But don’t forget about Cisco Systems.

The biggest provider of routing and switching systems has long retained the capability to design specialized processors for its hardware, as well as turn to off-the-shelf chips from commercial suppliers where that makes the most sense. Now Cisco designers have come up with another singular piece of home-grown silicon.

It’s a new product line called the nPower, and Cisco says the chips can pump as much as 400 gigabits of data per second. By contrast, the company’s prior technology could handle 140 gigabits and required more than one chip, Cisco says. The new capacity translates into hundreds of millions of transactions per second.

To what end? Of course, computer and smartphone users will continue to watch more YouTube videos and the like. But Surya Panditi, Cisco’s senior vice president and general manager of engineering, says a key driver for the technology is a coming change in the nature of network traffic.

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