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TCAMs have been an emerging technology for packet forwarding in the networking industry. They are fast and easy to use. However, due to their inherent parallel structure they consume high power - much higher than SRAMs or DRAMs. A system using four TCAMs could consume upto 60 watts. The power issue is one of the chief disadvantages of TCAMs over RAM based methods for forwarding. For a system using multiple TCAMs we present methods to significantly reduce TCAM power consumption for forwarding, making it comparable to RAM based forwarding solutions. Using our techniques one can use a TCAM for forwarding at 3 to 4 watts worst case. Our techniques also have an interesting connotation to TCAM forwarding rates. For a static distribution of requests we present methods that make the forwarding rate of a system proportional to the number of TCAMs. So if a system has four TCAMs, one could achieve a four fold performance of that of a single TCAM for a static distribution of requests.
Date of Conference: 2002