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Network processors roll for unified computing

Posted: 01 Jun 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:network processors  unified computing  programmable processor  packet processing 

Programmable chip vendor Netronome Systems Inc. has unveiled a family of network processors said to remove the barriers to unified computing architectures by combining high-performance network, content and security processing with general purpose processors, such as Intel Corp.'s IA processors, through I/O virtualisation.

Netronome said its NFP-32xx family of network flow processors is the only line of processors backward-compatible with the Intel IXP28XX network processors, protecting customers' software investment. In 2007, Intel licensed the high-end of its IXP chips to Netronome.

Unlike fixed-function ASICs and configurable network processors, Netronome's NFPs are fully programmable processors capable of addressing the requirements of unified computing architectures, according to the company. Software-defined I/O supports both L2-L3 packet processing and L4-L7 application- and content-aware deep packet inspection, the company said.

This programmability, coupled with line rate packet processing, provides the highest level of inspection and throughput available in the industry for traditional NPU applications such as high-performance line cards, according to Netronome.

NFPs are powered by 40 multi-threaded programmable networking cores running at 1.4GHz, delivering more than 56 billion instructions per second with 320 hardware threads, according to Netronome. This enables 20Gbps of L2-L7 deep packet processing with line-rate security and I/O virtualisation for millions of simultaneous flows, according to the company.

The devices operate at 15 to 35 watts and deliver more than four times the power efficiency of its closest competitor, Netronome said.

The NFP is available in a range of price and performance options spanning from 16 to 40 cores operating at 1.0 or 1.4GHz with optional cryptography support, Netronome said. The devices are sampling today, with general availability expected in the third quarter. Pricing starts at Rs.13,919.97 ($275).

-Dylan McGrath
Programmable Logic DesignLine

For application notes and technical articles on processors, visit Embedded Design India.

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