With all the vague and vaporous promises of future delivery we get from multiservice switch vendors nowadays, it’s refreshing to hear from one that’s actually shipping all its products…or so it says.

Start-up Vivace Networks Inc. emerged from stealth mode last week with products that are actually shipping – including 10Gbps Ethernet and OC-192c ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) boards – and a Tier 1 customer that’s actually deploying Vivace switches in a production network…or so it says. There is no way to confirm this, however, because like all the other multiservice switch vendors that make promises of future deliverables, Vivace won’t say who that customer is.

Regardless, assuming Vivace is on the up and up, it has beaten everyone else – start-up and incumbent alike – to market with a 160Gbpst-320Gbps multiservice ATM/IP/MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) switch. Lucent Technologies Inc. says it is shipping its TMX 880 MPLS core switch in “controlled release” and also has it in lab trials with service providers Lucent declines to identify. General release is expected in September.

Cisco Systems Inc. just announced its MGX 8950 and MGX 8830 switches for the core and edge, respectively. But Cisco won’t say when single-port OC-192c ATM or quad-port OC-48c interface cards for the 8950 will ship.

Nortel Networks Corp. is expected to ship the Passport 20000 this quarter. Nortel will support OC-192c packet-over-SONET first and then offer a software upgrade to OC-192c ATM when demand materializes, the company says.

Equipe Communications Corp. was supposed to ship its E3200 with OC-192c ATM interfaces in the first quarter. The date has been pushed out because carriers looking to evaluate the switch delayed their trials, an Equipe spokesman says.

Alcatel SA is shipping a 450Gbps version of its 7670 RSP with quad-port OC-48c modules. OC-192s will be available in the next release of the product, Alcatel says.

Marconi Corp. PLC says its BXR-48000 is available for sale right now, and has the switch in a lab trial with a Tier 1 carrier. Marconi is expecting purchase orders from “a couple of customers,” a spokesman says, but none delivered yet. The company won’t announce general availability until it can publicly reference a revenue customer, the spokesman says.

Vivace also has a 16Gbps edge switch that will go up against platforms from start-ups Gotham Networks Inc., WaveSmith Networks Inc., and some recent enhancements to Lucent’s long-in-the-tooth GX 550 and CBX 500 switches. WaveSmith’s frame relay switches are currently in four trials with general availability expected at the end of this month.

Gotham claims its GN 1400 and GN 600 switches have been commercially available since June 2001. But the company has yet to realize any revenue from the products aside from what carriers spend to test and certify them, says Laura Howard, Gotham’s vice-president of marketing, product management and business development. Nonetheless, Gotham has a purchase order queued up with an incumbent local exchange carrier that’s been evaluating the GN 1600 for at least 13 months, Howard says.

Vivace will demonstrate its switches at SuperComm 2002 in Atlanta next month. The half-rack Viva5100 is a 16-slot chassis that scales to 320Gbps of full-duplex switching. In a full rack, the 5100 supports more than 6,000 DS-3s, and the switch fabrics of separate switch chassis can be interconnected to achieve a 2.5Tbps system, Vivace claims.

Viva1050 is a three-rack unit switch providing 16G bit/sec of port density. The same interface cards – DS-3 through OC-192c, Gigabit Ethernet through 10Gbps Ethernet – are shared across the products to help carriers lower sparing costs, and the 1050 provides the same throughput of a Juniper Networks M20 router one-third the size, Vivace says.

The switches provide per-virtual-circuit and per-flow quality of service (QoS) in which the first 128 bytes of a packet are interrogated to define a flow, and then it is queued accordingly in buffers .5 gigabytes deep per direction per line card. Vivace says this “hard” QoS technique is analogous to ATM’s per virtual circuit queuing, but is applicable to all services – not just ATM.

Also, ports on the Viva line cards are software-configurable to support any service – IP (Internet Protocol), frame relay, ATM, Ethernet or TDM – on any port, interface or channel, simultaneously. Therefore, trunks can be native IP or ATM, Vivace says.

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