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Member Spotlight: Centec Networks

Following is an interview with Tao Gu, Vice President of Business Development at Centec Networks, discussing the NBASE-T Alliance and technology.

What motivated Centec to join the NBASE-T Alliance℠?

As an Ethernet switch silicon company, Centec must collaborate with multiple complementary vendors to ensure it provides optimal solutions to customers.  The NBASE-T Alliance gives us an important forum for collaboration with the key stakeholders in our markets, including PHY and processor suppliers.

Can you provide an overview of the Centec NBASE-T™ product solutions?

Centec has two primary solutions: the CTC5160 “GreatBelt” Ethernet switch, and the CTC8096 “Golden Gate” Ethernet switch. Both product lines were designed to support 1G and 10G connections but had a latent capability to run the 1G ports at faster rates.  By simply swapping out the PHYs, OEMs can leverage the nominal 1G ports for either 2.5G or 5G, depending on the product line.  GreatBelt is in production, and has the capability to aggregate up to 24 access points.  The switch’s 24 “1G” ports can be leveraged to support 2.5G speeds.  Golden Gate is sampling now and has the capability to aggregate up to 48 access points with ports supporting 1G, 2.5G, and 5G speeds.

How are Centec solutions deployed in the market today?

Centec has been providing aggregation-layer solutions to the enterprise and data center markets for over 10 years, with a strong focus on Asia.  Specifically, we’ve seen widespread adoption of our technology at Internet cafés across China, which are popular venues for consumers to access Wi-Fi.  Our switches are the de facto standard for this market.  Now, customers deploying our switches in 1G applications have an attractive cost-saving method for upgrading their infrastructure. We believe this will increase our presence in these existing, growing markets.

How will the Centec NBASE-T solutions be deployed at either the system or network level?

Centec offers Ethernet switch silicon that, when combined with surrounding PHYs and processors, can be used in an Ethernet switch at the aggregation layer.  Aggregation switches sit between the access and core layers, and are used to aggregate data from wireless access points (WAPs).

Have you uncovered any unique applications for your NBASE-T products?

We’re starting to see interest from wireless carriers in Asia who want to upgrade their carrier-grade Wi-Fi applications.  This gives them an important interim step between 1G and 10G solutions.

What do your customers tell you about NBASE-T and/or their need for improved performance without upgrading cabling? 

Our customers care about three things: cost, cost and cost.  Today’s 10G switch costs remain high, and then there is the added cost of ripping and replacing cable.  NBASE-T technology allows them to increase speeds without ripping and replacing cable, and we expect that silicon costs will be increasingly more economical than 10G silicon solutions as the technology matures.