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Network processor boosts security, content performance

Posted: 19 Mar 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:network processor? x86? multicore?

From Netronome comes the NFP-3240 network flow processor specifically designed for tight coupling with general purpose x86-based multicore Intel processors to accelerate network, security and content performance up to 40- and 100Gbit/s.

At the heart of the NFP-3240 is an array of forty 1.4GHz microengine RISC processors, according to Niel Viljoen, founder and CEO of Netronome. Each microengine core supports eight simultaneous computing threads, enabling the NFP-3240 to deliver 56 billion instructions per second (BIPS).

Additional hardware acceleration engines provide line-rate processing for PKI, bulk cryptography and deep packet inspection. Unique to the NFP-3240 memory architecture are hardware accelerators for queues, atomic operations and CAMs.

By minimizing the effects of memory stalls, he said, an intelligent memory management system delivers over 80 percent effective utilization of dual DDR3 1333MHz and dual QDR SRAM channels that operate at up to 350MHz. This unmatched processing power and memory performance is required for critical L4-L7 networking applications designed for 40- to 100Gbit networks.

Over 100Gbit/s of I/O options unlock the massive flow processing power of the 40 microengines. The NFP-3240 features an eight-lane PCIe 2.0 interface, dual 25Gbit/s Interlaken, dual 10GbE and 8x1 GbE MACs, dual 10Gbit/s XAUI, and SPI 4.2. Enhanced PCIe I/O virtualization support makes the NFP-3240 the only processor to seamlessly integrate with best-in-class multicore Intel Architecture processors. This allows heterogeneous processing designs to be realized simply and cost effectively.

The NFP-3240's microengine cores are designed specifically for flow-based network and security processing. Vilojoen said microengines are not burdened with the overhead found in general-purpose processors that limits effective throughput to a few Gbit/s, even when adding cores and increasing clock rates.

These optimizations for network processing, he claims, enable the industry's highest BIPS per watt when operating under full load at 30W. The NFP-3240's microengine cores also offer the only source-code compatibility with Intel's IXP28XX network processors.

The NFP-3240 is supported by comprehensive tools that include a C-compiler, a powerful simulation environment, a complete hardware development platform and a library of hundreds of software flow processing functions.

The NFP-32xx family is available in a range of price and performance options for 10-, 40- and 100Gbit/s designs. Configuration options span from 16 to 40 cores, operating at 1GHz or 1.4GHz, with optional cryptography support. With prices starting at $275, the NFP-32xx family of network flow processors are sampling now with general availability in mid-2010.

- Bernard Cole

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