LVL7 and EZ Technologies of San Jose, CA say they have made a major advance in the rapidly emerging high-speed networking market known as 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

The companies announced Tuesday that they can now offer customers what it calls the industry’s first completely integrated 10-Gigabit (Gb) networking hardware and software system solution.

10 Gb Ethernet, which is actively supported by some of the communications industry’s biggest players, is being positioned as a “high-speed, unifying technology for networking applications” across local, metro and wide-area networks, according to the 10 Gigabit Ethernet Alliance. The alliance says the high-speed technology “relieves bottlenecks throughout” networks and positions adopters for “future applications.”

A number of 10 Gb projects, including Internet 2, were discussed at a recent alliance conference. Among the supporters are Cisco Systems, Nortel and Intel.

EZ Chip, a subsidiary of LanOptics, is enabling the integration of LVL7’s Fastpath software suite with its family of network processors and traffic managers. The result is an embedded network software architecture and protocol suite that they tout as the industry’s most powerful and highly integrated 10-Gb network-processing unit (NPU).

“EZchip is a clear leader when it comes to 10Gb network processors, and our relationship proves the scalability of LVL7’s Fastpath software all the way to 10Gb,” says Kishore Jotwani, LVL7’s vice president of marketing. “EZchip’s selection of Fastpath demonstrates LVL7’s strength in the rapidly growing market for networking system software.”

Specifically, Jotwani says that Cary-based LVL7 is positioning itself to be a provider for next generation Ethernet technology…a market that’s predicted to grow from nearly 500 percent by 2005.

The advance is the latest in a string of good news for LVL7 this year. The company closed an oversubscribed venture round of $12.5 million in September,, and its software won Best of Show at Networld + Interop in May. The company also recently began expanding its sales force and hired a vice president for sales.

Jotwani says the EZchip agreement also provides an industry validation of LVL7’s MasterDriver technology. This set of application program interfaces (APIs) launched in October that allow developers to easily port Fastpath software to any silicon platform, he says. This proves the portable nature of the third generation of LVL7’s Fastpath networking product suites across any silicon, he says.

“Customers are demanding integrated system offerings (hardware and software) to mitigate the risk in developing networking devices,” adds Jotwani. “With the launch of MasterDriver technology that allows porting of Fastpath on to any silicon, LVL7 and EZChip were able to give customers exactly what they wanted…Fastpath integrated networking system software on — a market leading 10Gb processor.”

Available as a component of Fastpath 3.0, MasterDriver is a pre-instrumented reference driver that provides a framework for the development of low-level network device drivers and allows for immediate development of higher-level applications and protocols in parallel with hardware development.

Integration and testing is scheduled to be completed in first quarter 2003. Typical products that can implement the joint solution include 10 Gb Ethernet line cards, 8×1 Gb Ethernet line cards and stand-alone boxes.