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Cirque Networks
Charlotte, NC

Objective – Provide Advanced Technology Design Services
Services – Electronic Design, Firmware Design, & Mechanical Design
Industry – Communications Equipment
Application – Fast and Gigabit Ethernet Switching
Technologies – Gigabit Ethernet, Fiber-Optics, Rambus, PowerPC, SNMP

Overview

Cirque Networks, a start-up in the Switched Gigabit Ethernet Space, was developing a family of switch products just before the ratification of the IEEE Gigabit Standard. It had two distinct issues which prompted it to evaluate external resources to assist in product development:

  • A need to introduce multiple products in a family simultaneously
  • Advanced technology, requiring substantial knowledge and experience to mitigate risk
Additionally, Cirque Networks desired technology partners with substantial manufacturing knowledge so that manufacturing scheduling and yield targets could be met.

 

Situation
Cirque Networks, a venture-funded start-up, found itself competing in the initial race to introduce switched Gigabit Ethernet to the marketplace. It wanted to introduce a family of high-performance Gigabit switches that would be appropriate for small to medium sized, fast growing, companies. This target market imposed a number of design constraints due to target cost and time-to-market requirements.

Adding to the potential complexity was the fact that Cirque Networks had retained an Industrial Design (ID) firm in Atlanta, GA to assist in the artistic aspect of the packaging. The ID firm presented compelling visual designs, which addressed the needs of the target market well – but were made with no forethought as to the mechanical integration issues with the electronic sub-system.

When Dynazign was contacted to assist in the effort, a very aggressive schedule was in place to deliver functional prototypes of the first two products in the family for an industry trade show in less than six weeks. Additionally, after the trade show was complete, the schedule called for the initiation of four more switches, as well as support for the first two products as they went into production.

In summary, Cirque Networks needed a technology partner that could provide advanced technical knowledge, project management skills and leadership in the transfer to the manufacturing process.

Solution
At the outset, it was clear that success could only occur by initiating a triage process, so that the full scope could be determined and priorities assigned. This was accomplished by meeting with engineering management of both Cirque Networks and its Industrial Design partner. Because of the interrogatory, Dynazign was able to establish both the critical path, as well as necessary supporting items that were not directly on the critical path, but were required for success.

Because of the triage process, a crash program was initiated to make the first two products ready for the trade show. The major critical path items to accomplish this task were:

  • Rambus Channel Design
  • Gigabit Interface Circuitry
  • Mechanical Integration with Packaging (Industrial Design)
  • Circuit Board Layout (Specifically split planes, Ball Grid Array (BGA) routing / shielding issues and impedance matching)
  • Prototyping & Debug

The result of the crash program was 100% unqualified success – Dynazign Style. Cirque Networks was able to introduce and demonstrate both products at Networld+InterOp according to plan. This was by no means the end of the project, because Cirque Networks still needed to begin design on four more switches and move the first two into volume production.

Using the same project management techniques, Dynazign again decomposed the challenges into prioritized tasks. Once this was done, we facilitated task assignment and extracted commitments from outside vendors.

In the end, Dynazign delivered on every commitment and every schedule milestone. Eventually this resulted in six Fast and Gigabit Switch designs, and one very happy client.

Technology & Development
Wide varieties of techniques were applied in this project over a period of nine months. Some of the notable technologies and innovations included:

  • Mathematical modeling and analysis of trace impedances
  • 3D mechanical modeling using ProE and AutoCAD
  • 600 Mhz. Rambus Channel Design and Simulation
  • High Speed Parallel Bus Design
  • High-Speed Micro-strip custom module interface
  • Modularized Gigabit Interface
  • Multi-Layer, Split Plane Construction for Noise Isolation and Power Distribution
  • High-Density BGA Design
  • Network Stack Implementations (TCP/IP, SNMP, ICMP, VLAN etc)


The combination of these advanced technology skills and innovative analysis provided Cirque Networks with a feature rich and competitive family of network switches.

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