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Arista Lines Up Merchant Silicon-Based Routing Products for Service Provider Networks

If you are moderately informed about data center switches, you’d likely have heard about merchant silicon. Currently, there is a big debate among industry insiders about who comes on top between merchant and custom silicon. In the Networking Field Day: Service Provider presentation of December, Arista made a bunch of presentations on their merchant silicon based routing products which settles the debate in favor of merchant silicon, at least for the service provider companies.

Merchant Silicon Across Providers

Merchant silicon which are ASICs are not proprietary to a certain vendor which means they are sold in the market by vendors that are not the manufacturers of the chips. There is a tremendous amount of competition in the merchant silicon space right now led by the likes of Intel, Marvell and Broadcom.

What’s interesting is that the makers of merchant silicon all use the same fabs, processes, memories, TCAMs and certs resulting in an approximately similar clock rate achieved in all the process technologies. If you are wondering how are the products so different, it’s because the design choices each provider makes are purpose-built to cater targeted use cases only. However different they may be from one another, every provider in the merchant silicon market is now pursuing to meet the greatest demand of all – to make products simpler, faster and more reliable.

Arista Over the Past Decade

Over the past ten years, Arista has developed a number of routing products using merchant silicon of families like Trident, Tomahawk, Jericho, Tofino and XP from brands like Broadcom, Marvell, and Intel. From the different trajectories each of them has followed, it is clear that their different curves have only been caused by the different marketing decisions, which being the use cases, process shifts and execution.

With focus on the three end goals of quality, architecture and scale, Arista has been building software-first products since the beginning to contribute to the merchant silicon space. Today, it’s portfolio also comprises a selection of cloud networking solutions at scale for switching use cases and routing.

Taking a Look at Arista’s Merchant Silicon Based Products for Service Providers

Hugh Holbrook, Group Vice President, Software Engineering for Arista offered a thorough detailing of Arista’s merchant silicon hardware platforms and how they have been designed to keep up with the top trends in merchant silicon and the most common asks of the customers. In discussing the platforms, he also offered a closer look at the major trends in merchant silicon right now, and their connection to service providers.

Today Arista has an expansive portfolio that comprises of seven different families of merchant silicon, chassis and fixed config, all of which are high on operational consistency. Some of its routing products are high-function, deep-buffers while others are compact and fast. Irrespective of their capabilities, they all apply to service provider customers to their diversity of use cases. All its architectures are enabled by Arista EOS which supports storing and streaming state for all things needed by a router or a switch.

Arista has designed many different routing products over the years. The ones that are based on the Jericho family merchant silicon has deep buffers, support advanced traffic management and have large tables among other things. In use in Arista since 2006, this Broadcom line of silicon has many use cases and is one of the classic components in the products Arista has in offer.

Over the years, Arista has adapted its products to meet the changing requirements of SP networks. It’s routing products well meet the basic requirements of speed, reliability and simplicity. They have reduced OPEX, high bandwidth and automated management of complexities which make things smoother at the user end.

Everything concerned, Arista’s routing devices make choice products for service providers who have a lot of different use cases and different kinds of routers in their networks. They are also one-OS systems which makes testing of all products is fast and efficient.

Final Verdict

Arista has, insofar, been successful in bringing to the shelves high-performant merchant silicon routing products at inexpensive pricing. That is an advantage most service network providers would be happy to have. That, coupled with all its updated product development strategies, Arista’s merchant silicon-based routing products are definitely top-of-the-line solutions available in the market today.

Watch the rest of video on Youtube or here at Tech Field Day.

About the author

Sulagna Saha

Sulagna Saha is a writer at Gestalt IT where she covers all the latest in enterprise IT. She has written widely on miscellaneous topics. On she writes about the hottest technologies in Cloud, AI, Security and sundry.

A writer by day and reader by night, Sulagna can be found busy with a book or browsing through a bookstore in her free time. She also likes cooking fancy things on leisurely weekends. Traveling and movies are other things high on her list of passions. Sulagna works out of the Gestalt IT office in Hudson, Ohio.

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