”Dog years”, the term is usually used to describe the age of a dog.  In the rough formula 1 human year = ~7 “dog years”.  I often feel that technology runs in its own form of dog years.  Every human year that goes by the rate of technology innovation accelerates.  This ever accelerating rate of change poses a big problem for the heart of many IT networks, the switch ASIC.

Thankfully, with Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture (DNA), flexibility sits at the core of the network thanks to programmability all the way down at the chip level. Your network needs to adapt, and this flexibility should not be inhibited by the ASICs of network switches. Cisco believes investing in network hardware shouldn’t be a risk, and that our customers should have access to not just current, but future unforeseen innovations.

At the heart of each network switch is an ASIC. The typical network switch ASIC wasn’t designed with flexibility in mind. Speed was the primary objective, and the tradeoff was flexibility and the ability to add new features in the hardware. This created a big challenge as ASIC development had to start 2-3 years in advance of a new switch and the new switch would then live on for 5-7 years in a customer’s networks.  This means a switch needed to be designed upfront with all the features it might need at the ASIC level for it to last up to a decade.  A decade of “IT years” can bring forth a tremendous amount of change.  For instance ten years ago was when the iPhone was first introduced.  It would have been almost impossible to foresee how the smartphone would completely change how people work.  For years, IT shops made this limitation work as they lacked a ready alternative, but this ASIC level limitation has greatly limited the flexibility and agility of modern networks. Cisco Engineering teams realized that with the rapidly evolving networks of today, businesses would need something different.

The Cisco Unified Access Data Plane (UADP) switching ASIC, which acts like an anti-aging treatment for your network, enables your network to keep up with innovations over time. With the UADP, IT teams can do a simple software upgrade and get a whole new set of network capabilities—all delivered at hardware speeds—because of the programmability of the UADP switching ASIC.

Episode three of Cisco’s five-part innovation series, “New Frontiers: IT Innovations in 5 minutes,” explores how businesses can engage hardware in their efforts to ensure their network is adaptable and flexible into the future. In this episode, you will meet Dave, an engineer who explains how the UADP switching ASIC will transform the way IT professionals engage with their ever-changing network, and how flexible hardware can still deliver top-notch performance.



Scott Harrell

Senior Vice President and General Manager

Enterprise Networking Business