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Switch fabrics are fundamental building blocks in a wide range of communication platforms. However, despite the growing need for next-generation switches and routers, semiconductor vendors have been slow to develop switch fabric chipsets. In addition to the many technical challenges associated with the deployment of such fabrics, industry analysts agree that a key factor impeding wide-scale exploitation is a lack of standardization in interconnecting fabric components. Many of the more than 30 companies that develop switch fabrics offer excellent price and performance, but none guarantee compatibility with other vendor offerings or even with future generations of their own products. The market consists of several point solutions with no reliable and coherent roadmap. In these uncertain times, assurance of supply is a major issue in selecting a silicon vendor. Standard interfaces will make it possible to replace a discontinued device without requiring a new system design. The guaranteed availability of backup products will reduce the risks associated with each device and let systems designers select newer and more cutting-edge offerings.