Posted in | Nanoelectronics

New Study on Multicore Processors for Flexible Networking Systems

Advances in multicore processors – with development of 65nm and 40/45nm silicon technology enabling the integration of significantly more memory, high-performance cores, and enhanced network interfaces – are the key to meeting carriers' and other customers' requirements for flexible networking systems, according to a major new report from Heavy Reading, the research division of Light Reading.

Multicore Processors for Network Systems: A Heavy Reading Competitive Analysis surveys vendors developing high-performance multicore processors. As such, it not only provides granular information on the components themselves – of interest to chip manufacturers and purchasers – but also provides insights into how the overall market for multicore processors is likely to develop – of interest to a wide audience, including carriers and investors.

The report is based on interviews conducted with 11 multicore processor vendors in the second quarter of 2010, previous interviews with all the vendors covered, and product documentation supplied by these vendors. These in-depth interviews also offer insight into how the market for multicore processors is likely to develop in the future.

This report delivers a complete competitive analysis of network processors from 13 components vendors, covering more than 60 different products and product families, as well as three suppliers of multicore software.

"The development of sub-100nm silicon technology has opened the doors to multicore processors with significant on-chip memory and integrated, high-speed interfaces," says Simon Stanley, Analyst at Large with Heavy Reading and author of the report. "These multicore processors range from the latest 45nm and 32nm processors with up to 12 high-performance cores and very limited I/O, through integrated multicore processors with 8 to 16 embedded cores and dedicated hardware accelerators, to network processors with a complex mix of packet engines, dedicated hardware accelerators, and embedded cores that will handle packet processing up to 100 Gbit/s."

Flexibility is now a key design criteria for all networking systems. "With flexible systems, carriers can deliver new services using existing hardware or with cost-effective upgrades. Major telecom equipment manufacturers are adopting multicore processors and standardized platforms, such as AdvancedTCA, to deliver the flexibility carriers are demanding."

Key findings of Multicore Processors for Network Systems: A Heavy Reading Competitive Analysis include the following:

Multicore processors are key elements in most high-performance networking systems. The world's largest telecom equipment vendors – including Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco Systems, Ericsson, Huawei Technologies, Nokia Siemens Networks, and Samsung – are currently using multicore processors for applications from the edge to the core of the network.

32/40nm technology is delivering significant integration gains. By using 32nm, 40nm, and 45nm silicon technology, companies are able to pack onto a multicore processor up to 12MB of cache memory, up to 100 processor cores, a low-latency switch, and network interfaces supporting 100 Gbit/s or more.

Intel and AMD are going head-to-head with quad-core HyperThreading Xeons and eight-core Opterons. The rivalry between AMD and Intel in the enterprise computing space continues in the embedded networking market. Network equipment manufacturers can choose between quad-core Intel Xeons with eight threads and eight-core Opterons.

Freescale leads the competition with 40nm integrated multicore processors in production. Freescale was the first to introduce third-generation multicore processors with the QorIQ family, now in production. LSI, Cavium, and NetLogic are all now introducing similar devices.

Multicore Processors for Network Systems: A Heavy Reading Competitive Analysis is essential reading for a wide range of industry participants, including the following:

  • Equipment manufacturers: Which component vendors are taking the lead in multicore processor availability? Which suppliers hold the advantage in delivering the price/performance and power consumption targets you need? What is the current state of the art for network processors, and how will that change in the future? What kinds of performance gains can you expect from products that are still in development or just now coming to market?
  • Components suppliers: How does your current product line compare with the competition? Will your product plans keep you a step ahead of your rivals, or do you need to revise your strategy to keep your competitive edge? What are the likely demand trends for different types of network processors? Are you in position to capitalize on those demand trends?
  • Investors: Which components suppliers have the strongest product lines, and which ones are more likely to struggle for customer acceptance? Which suppliers are in the best position to capture market share in this evolving product category? What are the hot private companies in this sector, and what are their prospects for profitability? Where is the most significant growth coming in this market, and which new products will meet that demand?


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