ClassiPI inspects and classifies packets

The anticipation of communication at Gigabit Ethernet and OC-48 speeds has companies like PMC-Sierra thinking about the future. However, transferring packets at these high speeds is not the only thing on the agenda of the Burnaby, B.C.-based company. It recently released the PM2329 ClassiPI, a packet content classification processor for Gigabit Ethernet and OC-48 applications that looks into the packet to determine its contents.

ClassiPI is a chip designed to speed up the deployment of content-aware IP services including intrusion detection, load balancing and QoS (quality of service) on the IP switches and routers that power broadband networks, the company said.

According to Subhash Bal, director of strategic marketing in the Access product division of PMC-Sierra, ClassiPI goes beyond answering the question of how do you get a packet from here to there?

“We went into all sorts of other considerations including priority, security, is it an intrusive packet, is it trying to violate my space? Things of that nature,” Bal said. “To have these additional services you need to understand the packet’s quality and requirements. You have to classify the packet in some way.”

Bal said that although there are software products available on the market today, they is unable to keep up with Gigabit Ethernet and OC-48 speeds.

ClassiPI, which works alongside the network processor or ASIC, inspects each packet and classifies it. Bal said based on these two factors, the results of the classification are provided to the network processor, which in turn uses the information to deal with the packet. ClassiPI accelerates content-based classification and in the process, breaks one of the Internet’s most challenging bottlenecks, the company said.

According to Dan McLean, research manager, network support and integration services for IDC Canada in Toronto, the development of the ClassiPI comes as part of a growing trend.

“I think a lot of where network building is going is to build with the notion of placing the intelligence actually throughout the network, rather than in centralized devices (such as routers and switches),” McLean said. “The problem with that kind of (centralized) topology is that it is subject to things like bottlenecks. One of the big trends occurring now is where a lot of people want to evolve networks in terms of trying to create or place more intelligence in more devices so you are avoiding the whole issue of bottlenecks.”

McLean added that he expects to see a lot more innovations designed to build greater intelligence into networks.

“Whether it’s chips or through new types of management products, again the whole push is toward building intelligence in networks as much as possible, decentralized routing and processing functions.”

ClassiPI is available and is priced at US$256. For more information, visit