OIF Announces Serial Look-Aside Interface Implementation Agreement

Network engineers designing look-aside interfaces will want to take a fresh look at the new Serial Look-Aside Interface (SLA) Implementation Agreement (IA) unveiled by the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) this week. The Serial Look-Aside Interface IA, one of two recently published by the OIF’s Physical and Link Layer (PLL) Working Group, gives users the ability to interface Network Processor Element (NPE) to look-aside devices such as co-processors and memories at bandwidth speeds up to 40Gb/s and beyond.

“We expect the industry to benefit from the Serial Look-Aside Interface IA,” said David Stauffer, of IBM and the chair of the OIF’s PLL Working Group. “Currently interfaces between Network Processor Element devices and Content Addressable Memory (CAM) or other look aside elements use the Look Aside-1 (LA-1) interface, which is a parallel interface limited to 10Gb/s bandwidth. Now the industry has a standardized interface to transfer data between the NPE and CAM elements that scale to 40Gb/s and beyond to higher rates than the industry currently needs.”

The Serial Look-Aside Interface IA upgrades the widely adopted LA-1 look-aside Interface between NPEs and network search elements such as memory and co-processors. This interface is often used between a network processor and a Ternary Content Addressable Memory (TCAM). The SLA IA builds upon the System Packet Interface – Scalable (SPI-S) implementation agreement, making the high-speed interface available for immediate deployment.

The SPI-S is the next-generation interface developed by the OIF to take advantage of serialization of physical interconnects. SPI-S is a robust, channelized, streaming-packet interface that scales from 6 Gb/s to hundreds of Gb/s for chip-to-chip and backplane applications. A successor to the widely deployed OIF SPI 4.2 interface, SPI-S leverages the OIF’s CEI-P to take advantage of high rate serial physical interconnects.

The SLA IA supports the transfer of command, date, result and maintenance traffic between host controller (ASIC, FPGA or NPE) and a look-aside co-processor. The Look-Aside Interface supports the transfer of status and maintenance information such as Credit Pool Status information or Signaling Data Transfers, in-band with commands. The complete Serial Look-Aside Interface IA is available at http://www.oiforum.com/public/documents/OIF SLA IA.pdf.

TFI-5/TDM-P Client Signal Mapping into CEI-P Frame Format
The OIF’s PLL Working Group also released a new version of the Common Electrical Interface Protocol (CEI-P) Implementation Agreement this week, which includes new clauses for mapping TFI-5 and TDM-P applications over a CEI-P layer. CEI-P clauses for TFI-5/TDM-P now enable a higher level of integration that supports greater data throughput within the same physical space, resulting in more cost effective and efficient operation. The TDM Fabric-to-Framer Interface (TFI) series of interfaces and their aggregation layer, TDM-Protocol (TDM-P), are important methods of transporting SONET/SDH and OTN TDM signals between devices. The CEI-P layer, a protocol layer for the Common Electrical Interface (CEI), was defined by the OIF in early 2006 as a low-level protocol building block that uses 64B/66B block coding and supports optional Forward Error Correction (FEC). This new revision of the CEI-P IA describes a mapping of the existing TFI and TDM-P protocols over CEI-P. The complete CEI-P 2.0 IA is available at http://www.oiforum.com/public/documents/oif2007.225.04.pdf

OIF Elections Held
During the first quarter meeting last month, OIF members re-elected Dave Stauffer of IBM as the chair of the Physical and Link Layer Working Group. Rod Smith of Tyco Electronics was elected co-chair of the Marketing Awareness & Education committee.

About the OIF
Launched in April of 1998, the OIF is the only industry group uniting representatives from data and optical networking disciplines, including many of the world’s leading carriers, component manufacturers and system vendors. The OIF promotes the development and deployment of interoperable networking solutions and services through the creation of Implementation Agreements (IAs) for optical networking systems and optical, interconnect, network processing and component technologies. The OIF actively supports and extends the work of national and international standards bodies with the goal of promoting worldwide compatibility of optical internetworking products. Working relationships or formal liaisons have been established with the IEEE 802.1, IEEE 802.3, IETF, ITU-T Study Group 13, ITU-T Study Group 15, IPv6 Forum, IP-MPLS Forum, MEF, ATIS OPTXS, ATIS TMOC, Rapid I/O, TMF, Ethernet Alliance and the XFP MSA Group.