A new generation of flexible, packet-based transport techniques promises to upgrade the capabilities of existing SONET-based networks to match the cost and scalability of Ethernet. By allowing service providers to efficiently deliver packet-based services over their circuit-based networks, these new protocols will enable them to perform the necessary network bandwidth and management upgrades as well as to provide additional services in the face of new competition for Internet access, video on demand, playback video and voice.

The key to this transformation will be the ability to reuse and evolve existing equipment infrastructure and implement multi-chip solutions that match the additional line card processing and bandwidth required. The introduction of flexible yet standard solutions for managing chip-to-chip flow control is an essential part of the line card solution if market needs are to be addressed in time with a production-ready solution.