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Freescale's AMP addresses explosive IP traffic growth

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:64bit? power architecture? multicore platform? IP traffic?

Competitive landscape
So, who is exactly Freescale competing against in the networking area?

IDC's Dugar observed that their competitors are high-performance microprocessor vendors such as Intel, as well as SoC vendors like Cavium and Netlogic, who are building application-specific devices around the MIPS processor core.

Some of the other key competitors in this space include LSI Corp, PMC-Sierra and Applied Micro, he added. "There are also a small number of privately held companies with proprietary architectures that compete against the QorIQ AMP series." The Linley Group's Bryne believes that it's worth keeping an eye on Tilera.

While "any comparison is problematic as it involves comparing products that are sampling today with something from Freescale that will not sample for some time," Bryne said, "With respect to packet processing, [Cavium Networks'] Octeon II CN6880 and [NetLogic's] XLP832 offer about the same performance as the AMP T4240."

Byrne added, "[Freescale's] AMP, however, will probably deliver more CPU performance at the same time in most cases. Compared with Octeon, AMP's CPUs are faster, support threading and have more cache. Compared with XLP, AMP has more CPUs. Neither of these rivals has anything like AltiVec."

Freescale isn't alone in integrating higher number of cores at higher clock frequencies into the communications processor SoCs.

IDC's Dugar said that Intel is doing the same with its high-end processors such as Sandy Bridge. However, "Freescale's new e6500 processor core and more integration of hardware off-load engines into the QorIQ AMP Series SoCs are important steps forward for Freescale to maintain its leading market share," Dugar noted.

Will the advanced process technology be as important an advantage as Freescale is claiming?

Unlike the QorIQ AMP Series, none of Freescale's competitors have announced 28nm products yet. "But it is inevitable its competitors will also do so, most likely later this year," Dugar said.

Intel is the only exception in this regard with its announcement at the last IDF of Ivy Bridge, the codename for the 22nm die shrink of its 32nm Sandy Bridge. It will use Intel's tri-gate transistor technology which is expected in approximately the same time frame as QorIQ AMP early next year, Dugar pointed out. "However, Intel's solution is a microprocessor, not a SoC. It requires an external chipset."

In IDC's Dugar's opinion, "the MIPS architecture-based vendors will come under greater pressure now to differentiate not only against Power Architecture from Freescale and x86 from Intel, but also between themselves."

- Junko Yoshida
??EE Times

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