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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?

Freescale Semiconductor Inc. has unveiled its Advanced Multiprocessing (AMP) series, a new-generation multicore platform which it hails as its most important offering to the networking segment in the past three years.

The new platform!based on a multithreaded 64bit Power Architecture core!uses up to 24 virtual cores. It integrates a host of acceleration engines and power management systems to boost performance and power efficiency. Further, Freescale is offering the AMP series of QorIQ processors at a 28nm process node, by skipping the 32nm process technology generation entirely.

In the communications products market ranging from wireless to wired infrastructure and data centers, "the trend is clear," said Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager of networking and multimedia at Freescale. "Internet traffic is exploding faster than Moore's Law." When the IP traffic is flying off the scale, the communications industry is in desperate need of "comms processors that can improve the performance by three to four times," she added.

Earlier this year, Freescale unveiled a scalable multimode wireless base station processor family dubbed QorIQ Qonverge. Designed to scale from small cells (Femto and Pico) to large cells (Metro and Macro), it shares a common architecture by using the company's proven multicore communication processor, multicore DSPs and baseband accelerators.

Describing it as "based on similar ideas," Freescale's new AMP series is "designed to cover the rest of the communications market!from low-end to high-end segments," said Su.

Freescale, all the while, offers its customers code compatibility with all QorIQ, QorIQ Qonverge and PowerQUICC processors, intended to help ease the migration. As Su put it, in each product, Freescale offers "intelligence integration," allowing its SoC's building blocks!power, scalability, density of Power Architecture cores, acceleration engines and others!to be configured and optimized for a specific product in a broader communications market.

Freescale plans to offer the AMP series in three levels of products: control plane processors for service provider routers and storage networks; high-end data plane processors ideal for routers, switches, access gateways and mil/aero application; and low-end data plane processors targeting media gateways, network attached storage and integrated services routers. Each product will feature a varying number of cores, varying degrees of parallelism, different programmable requirements, and different application acceleration and power performance.

Speaking of a broad array of the AMP-series of communications processors, John Dixon, Freescale's marketing manager of Power product/DSP, said: "Our goal is not just meeting the needs of our top 15 [networking equipment] customers but developing solutions for the next thousands of customers as well."

In the long run, the scalability and software compatibility among Freescale's communications processors may be just the thing that differentiates its products from competitors'. Joseph Byrne, a senior analyst at The Linley Group, noted, "The general idea [of software compatibility] is that it is easier for an OEM to use a compatible family of processors throughout a product line than a different type of processor for each design, because software is more easily reused among members of a compatible family." He added, "Broadly speaking, it also gives third-party tools and software developers a broader base of products to support, making it economical for the ecosystem to support the family."

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