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Broadcom logs tera-ops with communications chip

Posted: 14 Jun 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:communications processor? Ethernet? wireless networks?

Broadcom Corp. leveraged its NetLogic acquisition to roll out what's being seen as the highest performance communications processor on the market. The XLP980 leapfrogs archrival Cavium Networks to become the first to handle a trillion network operations per second.

The 28nm chip uses 20 quad-threaded, out-of-order MIPS cores to drive throughput to 160 Gbit/s, scalable to 1.28Tbit/s using multi-chip coherency. It provides hardware support for virtualisation, security, deep-packet inspection and quality-of-service features.

The XLP980 also is the first multi-core processor to integrate 40G Ethernet ports, said Bob Wheeler, a senior analyst with The Linley Group. The communications chips compete with ASICs from big systems companies such as Cisco Systems and increasingly with Intel's Xeon processors.

"Broadcom has grabbed the performance lead [because] Cavium has not yet taped out the CN78xx high-end Octeon III," Wheeler said. The XLP980 is "a beast, however, so it will serve only applications that can afford the high price and power dissipation such as EPC gateways, high-end security appliances and blades for service-provider routers," he said.

Rising data consumption on wired and wireless networks is driving demand for such high-end chips said Wheeler at the Linley Carrier Conference where Broadcom announced its chip.

Mobile traffic grew 70 per cent in 2012, making up 15 per cent of all Internet traffic today, Wheeler said. Mobile traffic will more than double to 30 per cent of Net traffic by 2015, he said.

The bad news is bandwidth is increasing faster than carrier revenue. Thus service providers are putting pressure on systems makers to reduce cost per MB, a factor that could drive more OEMs to turn to merchant chips.

In wired networks, broadband subscribers are projected to rise from 642 million in 2012 to 940 million in 2018. DSL handles 63 per cent of the traffic now but it is on a gradual decline.

Various flavours of fibre networks are on the rise with passive optical nets expected to grab the lion's share in the long run. China already has more wired broadband subscribers than the U.S. and is projected to have three times more subs than the U.S.

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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