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Agere's switch chip outpaces competition

The company says its new Protocol Independent Stand-Alone Switch can handle voice, data and video signals four times faster those of its rivals.

Agere said Monday that it has developed a chip that can switch voice, data and video signals four times faster than its competition, signaling a breakthrough in a financially strapped telecommunications industry.

Agere, a spinoff of Lucent Technologies, also announced a deal for China's Zhongxing Telecom Equipment (ZTE) to use the chip in its switching equipment. ZTE is China's largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer.

Called the Protocol Independent Stand-Alone Switch (PI-40SAX), the chip acts as the brains in communications equipment. Such switching chips manage an array of data traffic from voice, wireless Internet, video and other sources through telecommunications equipment.

Agere is positioning the chip as a way for telecommunications equipment manufacturers, and thus wireless and Internet access companies, to lower production costs.

Other companies with competing switching chips include Broadcom, Conexant Systems and Texas Instruments. But according to Agere, the PI-40SAX outpaces the industry because it can switch various data traffic at an aggregated speed of 80 gigabits per second and a minimum of 40 gbps. That's fast enough to handle 320,000 voice and data calls simultaneously, the company said.

The differentiating factor is the way the chip sets priorities for the various types of traffic, the company said. The competition, on the other hand, can only reach 40gbps using three or more chips, according to Agere.

Agere is selling the chips for $520 each in production quantities of 10,000.