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What Cisco’s Silicon One Means for Networks

Silicon One

Businesses around the world are more dependent on the internet than ever before. They use it to track down potential leads and keep in touch with key figures in their company hierarchy. Some tech giants go as far as storing and accessing their entire database on the cloud.

However, accessing and using all that data requires a lot of bandwidth. To achieve higher bandwidth, some vendors resort to multiple devices connected in a Clos configuration. All of this may result in three times the cost and power needed. Cisco recently released a new unified silicon architecture called Silicon One. What, exactly, does this new networking silicon mean for the industry as a whole?

Cisco Silicon One Development

Cisco Systems announced its new unified silicon architecture in late 2019. After working for five years on R&D investments, Cisco developed the new chip architecture, which the company also would sell itself. The move would place Cisco squarely as a leader in chip development and as a chip supplier. 

In October 2020, Cisco announced six new devices designed to address the web-scale switching market in addition to routing. March of 2021 saw three more chips added to the Silicon One line-up. The web-scale switching chips provided speeds ranging from 3.2Tbps up to 25.6Tbps. The beginning of the year saw routing options ranging from 3.2Tbps up to 12.8Tbps. On October 25, Cisco introduced a new Cisco Silicon One chip with 19.2Tbps power.

What Is Unified Silicon Architecture?

The new Silicon One architecture is said to be the only unifying architecture currently on the market that provides the highest bandwidth routing and web-scale switching silicon. It benefits both the service provider and web-scale provider markets. Silicon One also functions as a standalone and line card processor. 

According to Cisco, its new network architecture can solve issues by achieving a higher bandwidth. Normally, a vendor may have to send packets through multiple devices to get from a single input port to an output port in the system. With a unified silicon architecture, these packets are switched locally, which can reduce latency. You'll also see improvements in power usage since you won't need to run as many devices. 

Impact on Networking Architecture

The new Cisco system architecture has caused a big stir in the networking industry. Not only has the company come up with a new chip architecture, but it also started selling it themselves instead of relying on a chip supplier. Cisco’s new move lays the foundation to support future applications and services, such as 5G integration. It will also improve networking processes for various tech giants that rely heavily on a solid internet connection. 

Here are some of the ways Cisco Silicon One is shaking things up:

Challenging Whiteboxes

Cisco Silicon One can be seen as a response to the expansion of hardware created using standardized commodity parts. They're often referred to as "whiteboxes," which means they don't carry a popular brand name. These whiteboxes use merchant silicon from chipmakers like Broadcom, which is one of Cisco’s main competitors. Cisco can now add to the competition by providing components to large players such as Microsoft and Google. 

Although Cisco makes its own bundled systems, the company is also providing whitebox options for other operating systems. As such, you can expect to see Cisco chips used in various new technologies in the near future. 

Setting the New Standard

technology lifecycle management plan is essential for protecting a business from outages. Enterprises rely on networking services to provide their own services. As such, the network needs to scale with not only the company's demands but also the constant improvements made to online software and cloud technology.

Silicon One provides much better power consumption and performance than most of its competition. For many service provider networks, Cisco System's new chips will serve as the upgrade to beat all upgrades. Instead of adding more devices to get higher bandwidth, you can instead invest in Silicon One to replace them. 

The Web-Scale Market

One of the biggest struggles for Cisco in the past has been breaking into the web-scale market. Web-scale networking allows providers and enterprises to keep up with advancements in services like video streaming and cloud adoption. The better the video quality, the more speed is required to prevent latency issues. Additionally, an increasing number of companies are using cloud services as operating systems in addition to storage space. Cisco's new unified silicon architecture will also see use in the 5G markets as service providers try to match the needs of mobile users.

Moving Forward

The P100 chipset is Cisco's most recent product, boasting 19.2Tbps of full-duplex traffic. A single P100 can power a router with 24, 800 Gbps interfaces, which can be improved further with multiple chips. Despite the new release, Cisco has fallen short of analysts' estimates on revenue for this quarter. This is likely due to higher component prices and other costs. It's expected that orders will increase as more people return to their workplaces and more parts become available. 

Invest in Silicon

Cisco is constantly working to improve its technology and push the boundaries of innovation to the next level as part of its "Internet for the Future" strategy. You can expect to improve the quality of your networking architecture and future-proof your services with Cisco’s unified silicon architecture. 

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