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Conexant upgrades residential gateway processor

Posted: 20 Mar 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:conexant systems? network processor? gateway processor? cx8611x?

Conexant Systems Inc. has upgraded its processor for residential gateways, combining an ARM 9 core with hardware support for triple DES (3DES) and USB 1.1.

The company hopes the new CX8611x CPUs will give it an edge in the emerging home networking systems market that support virtual private network security and network printing capabilities. "These systems need increasing amounts of performance and more support for security," said Jay Gottlieb, product manager for Conexant's xDSL residential gateway products.

To that end, Conexant has tapped an ARM 926 EJ-S processor in versions running at 200MHz and 300MHz, an upgrade from the company's current offering. Hardware support for 3DES will accelerate processing of IPsec security at the heart of VPN connections.

"The use of VPN networks to access corporate applications is going up quite a bit," said Gottlieb.

The processors now support USB host capabilities for the first time. That allows a home gateway or router to act as a USB root hub so that a printer or other USB device can be plugged directly into the system and shared over the home network.

Like its current gateway processors, Conexant's CX8611x includes dual 10/100 Ethernet MACs. The company has plans on its road map to integrate other capabilities in the Conexant portfolio which may include ADSL transceivers, voice processing DSPs, cable modem capabilities, and support for the 480Mbps USB 2.0.

Last year, Conexant struck a deal for developing parts using Intersil's 802.11 technology, rolling out an integrated ADSL transceiver and 802.11 baseband chip. Thus an integrated 802.11 gateway processor could be in the offing for the companies.

Conexant provides a variety of software drivers for the CX8611x including those for HomePNA, HomePlug, 802.11, ADSL, and VoIP networks. The company also has certified software for the device supporting the Universal Plug and Play device discovery specification led by Microsoft Corp.

The CX8611x is Conexant's first device supporting the ARM Jazelle instructions for accelerating Java code. However, Java software has not been a focus for the initial implementations of the chip, Gottlieb said.

A variety of companies including 2Wire, Belkin, D-Link, Linksys, and NetGear are now making home gateway devices, following the rise in deployments of residential broadband DSL and cable modems and the rise of 802.11 home networks. The prices of some of those systems are now hitting price points below $100, Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb added that he considers Samsung one of his chief competitors in this arena.

The CX86111 runs at 200MHz, comes in a 256-pin BGA, and will sell for $15 in 10,000 quantities when it is available in production volumes in Q3. The 300MHz CX86113 comes in a 324-pin BGA and provides USB host hardware and VoIP software support. It will sample later this year.

Both chips support Linux, VxWorks and Windows CE.Net. They also support constant, variable, and unspecified bit rate QoS for DSL.

- Rick Merrit

EE Times

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