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Team effort for gateways

Posted: 01 Jul 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:David Lammers? EE Times? Freescale Semiconductor Inc.? MPC8349E processor? PowerQuicc silicon?

For its home and small-business media gateway products, Freescale Semiconductor Inc. is exercising two strategies that are becoming requirements in the semiconductor industry: partnerships and reference designs.

An "office-in-a-box" design that shipped recently for the small- and medium-business (SMB) market leverages Freescale's PowerQuicc silicon, a GbE switch from Vitesse Semiconductor Corp., and software from Jungo Software Technologies Ltd.

For its home media gateway reference design, Freescale has matched its hardware platform with Media Server software from Mediabolic Inc.

The SMB reference design lets carriers quickly create products aimed at VoIP, virtual private networks, and software attach storage, said Lynelle McKay, a Freescale VP in the digital systems division. The goal is to allow carriers targeting the high-volume SMB market to develop software and create products "within a couple of months," McKay said.

"More and more, we are developing reference platforms, especially for areas that go through ODMs," she said. With videoconferencing and other Web-based services changing the way small businesses operate, the SMB market now requires gateways with the horsepower that the PowerQuicc II enables, she added.

Jungo's OpenSMB software runs on Freescale's MPC8349E processor and Vitesse's SparX GbE switch. The Linux-based platform supports VoIP, IP-PBX, Gigabit Ethernet LAN switching, firewalls with stateful packet inspection, VPN routing and application-aware QoS, as well as print server and network-attached storage.

Research firm AMI Partners estimates that 35 million SMBs (businesses with fewer than 100 employees) spent more than $12 billion on networking and telecom-related infrastructure equipment in 2005, with spending predicted to grow to $19 billion by 2010.

Udi Yuhjtman, a VP at Jungo, said his company's vision is for small businesses to link with their enterprise counterparts in a "connected office" to use Web-based services that keep down the costs of doing business.

The reference platform is available in a mini-ITX form factor, with a 667MHz PowerQuicc, a four-port USB 2.0 interface, the five-port GbE switch from Vitesse, various PCI slots and hard-disk drive storage.

If the small-business market is growing quickly, the number of home networks is increasing at an even faster rate. iSuppli Corp. estimates that there are more than 45 million installed home networks now and predicts that there will be 120 million by 2009. Within that segment, more than 60 million will be "media-enabled," bridging consumer electronics and PCs within the home.

Altaf Hussein, a senior product marketing manager at Freescale's networking and computing systems group, said home media gateways often are "plugged in to DTVs to move content, such as videos, photos and music. And these are 'always-on' systems, so we need to support that capability."

Mark Kirstein, an analyst at iSuppli, said the reference design will "transform the home network-attached storage platform from a simple PC peripheral into an integral home entertainment system," adding support for Universal Plug and Play and Digital Living Network Alliance standard connections.

- David Lammers
EE Times

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