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Freescale's GPON SoC makes light of last mile woes

Posted: 14 May 2007     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:GPON  FTTH  SoC 

Freescale Semiconductor views its the introduction in April of the MSC7120 as a decisive step towards actualising the delivery of rich digital content to the home and small office via FTTH technology. The MSC7120 is [still] the industry's first voice-enabled Gigabit Passive Optical Networking (GPON) SoC, according to the company's press announcement May 9, 2007.

"The GPON SoC has sufficient power to meet the real-time demands of a quality VoIP implementation," Ganesh Guruswamy, country manager and director, Freescale Semiconductor India told EE Times India. "Engineers at Freescale India's design centre played a key role in designing the cost competitive chip with a high degree of system integration."

The multi-core MSC7120 integrates a Power Architecture CPU, a StarCore DSP, and a data path engine to deliver a complete PON sub-system in a single device. It addresses the high data forwarding throughput requirements of several applications including the delivery of voice, video and data broadband services to homes and small businesses. The SoC facilitates faster streaming of video, online gaming and high-clarity voice over internet without echo; broadcast television that can support four channels; and video conferencing.

Freescale has jointly developed the MSC7120 solution with Alcatel-Lucent, a dominant supplier of GPON equipment worldwide. Work on the SoC was initiated in 2005 after the two companies agreed to collaborate on delivering a compatible, interoperable and cost-effective GPON technology to the market.

"Freescale along with Alcatel-Lucent is facilitating the adoption of FTTH technologies by providing jointly-developed GPON technology and interoperability specifications to vendors of terminal equipment worldwide," Guruswamy shared.

GPON technology supports the convergence of IP over optical networks, offering high connection speeds. Guruswamy highlighted what differentiates GPON technology from other broadband access technology approaches: "Higher frequency signals in DSL quickly get attenuated, reducing the transmission distance. In cable technology, a 6MHz QAM channel can support 39Mbps. In contrast to these, PON delivers 2,500Mbps, and has no distance limitations."

Analyst firm IDC has forecasted that worldwide consumer and small business broadband subscriptions will grow to approximately 40 crore subscriptions by 2010. "As the number of broadband subscribers worldwide grows, GPON is recognised as an emerging solution to the growing challenges that threaten to constrict the delivery of rich content to end consumers over 'last mile' infrastructure," Guruswamy pointed out.

The MSC7120 supports the G.984 GPON GEM protocol. It combines the high channel voice density of Freescale's MSC711x DSP device with the high-speed networking capabilities of the PowerQUICC II Pro platform, a GPON media access controller (MAC), and Freescale's hardwired packet engine, which achieves gigabit wire rate packet forwarding. The MSC7120 will be available in a 456 pin thermally enhanced PBGA package.

Freescale also has made available development tools, hardware platforms, software building blocks, and application specific software solutions for the MSC7120. The software includes real-time operating system support for the StarCore and Power Architecture cores, as well as a variety of application software such as DSP voice framework, signalling stacks and GPON software stacks.

Freescale's target end-markets for the GPON SoC include the major global telecom operators, and it is working closely with OEMs and ODMs that are part of the telecom operators' supply chain. "GPON has been accepted as the choice of FTTH technology in North America and Europe, and Freescale has strong customer relationships in these markets," Guruswamy noted. "Also, according to Ovum-RHK's recent report, GPON is gaining ground in the Far-East, where operators see this as an attractive high bandwidth access alternative."

Guruswamy believes that the availability of the Freescale GPON chip in India would have the potential to impact broadband connectivity approaches in the country, and enable streaming of data at faster speeds.

-By Krishnan Sivaramakrishnan
  EE Times India

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