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Overcome design complexities in multi-core networking (Part 2)

Posted: 01 Oct 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:multicore networking  telecommunications 4G  network offload 

The drive to all IP-based services is placing stringent performance demands on IP-based equipment and devices, which in turn is growing demand for multi-core technology. There is strong growing demand for advanced telecommunications services on wired and wireless next-generation network (NGN) infrastructures and fast growing demand for the same in the enterprise too. This telecommunications/IT convergence is a major revolution that is going to tear down barriers between both worlds and significantly simplify and accelerate the development of converged services at a lower cost.

Within a few years, more than 10 billion fixed and mobile devices will be connected via the Internet to add to the more than one billion already connected. New innovative Internet services based mainly on images and video will be launched, and intelligence in the network will be required to differentiate service offerings. All these services are going to be deployed over full IP-based architectures.

The telecommunications industry has well adopted multi-core technology for its demanding services and with IP now being the de facto standard for enterprise information systems, multi-core is fast moving into all enterprise environments as well. All equipment including security gateways, VoIP and ToIP systems, Web 2.0 applications, storage systems etc. rely on a sophisticated IP communications layer. Single-core architectures can no longer sustain networking performance demands of IP-based next generation equipment. As such, the progression towards running applications on multi-core-based architectures is well underway. However, the migration towards multi-core introduces a myriad of new multi-core-based networking and application integration design challenges and complexities.

Application examples
This article discusses in more detail how multi-core can be used for a new design for 4G telecommunications infrastructure and for a network offload engine for an existing SIP server.

LTE architecture—LTE (Long Term Evolution) is gaining momentum to be the key standard for deploying Next Generation Network (NGN) wireless telecommunications services that provides end-users with unrivalled mobile broadband access. Features include data rates of more than 100 Mbps downlink and 50 Mbps uplink, simultaneous voice and data sessions, and low round-trip latency to support real-time applications like gaming and mobile TV.

3GPP, the standards body driving LTE, has specified a flat IP-based network architecture (SAE: System Architecture Evolution) with the aim to efficiently support massive usage of IP services. As a consequence, the network architecture is much simpler compared with existing architectures like 3G. Inter-working between CDMA and LTE-SAE has also been standardized to enable evolution to LTE.

LTE-SAE architecture relies on several key pieces of equipment: eNodeB, packet data network gateway (PDN-GW), serving gateway (S-GW) and mobility management entity (MME).

Figure 1 shows embedded software architecture for LTE equipment on a hardware platform using a single multicore processor. It is also applicable on a larger configuration with several multicore processors and on heterogeneous platforms using multicore processors for the Fast Path and generic purpose multicore processors for the Control Plane.

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Figure 1: Shown is an embedded software architecture for LTE equipment on a hardware platform using a single multicore processor.

Network offloading engine for IP-based applications (SIP server example)—Figure 2 describes the scaling challenge for IP-based applications when network traffic grows. Applications that can sustain today's traffic will not be able to scale when traffic ultimately reaches multi 10 Gbps. Packet processing will be a bottleneck especially when traffic will be made primarily of smaller packets. For instance, standard x86 architectures are not able to manage more than 500 Mpps of 64 byte packets—this is only one third of 1 Gbps traffic with such packet size.

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Figure 2: Here�s a description of the scaling challenge for IP-based applications when network traffic grows.


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