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Altera forms broadband, data centre partnerships

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:data centre? broadband? FPGA? RF? base band?

Altera Corp. and Lime Microsystems have teamed up to jointly develop and promote programmable solutions for a diverse range of broadband wireless markets.

The agreement will yield optimised field programmable radio frequency (FPRF) transceivers, digital RF and base band solutions. These devices will integrate Altera's FPGAs and Lime's RF transceiver technology supporting all mainstream global wireless communication standards.

Altera provides OpenCL support to simplify FPGA developments, enabling engineers to write hardware-accelerated kernel functions in OpenCL C, an ANSI C-based language with additional OpenCL constructs. This complements the level of configurability in Lime's RF transceivers, and is expected to simplify small cell deployment and enable the creation of low- cost mobile networks.

"As the 'Internet of Things' and next-generation wireless networks take shape, our partnership will result in customers using programmable RF and FPGA technologies to accelerate their time-to-market and develop solutions that support existing and emerging wireless standards as well as proprietary wireless communication systems," said Lime Microsystems CEO Ebrahim Bushehri.

As part of the agreement, Altera has also made an equity investment in Lime Microsystems, signalling a working relationship that will be expanded to marketing, sales and technical support activities worldwide. In addition, the two companies will produce reference designs that can be further customised for specific applications and features.

As demand for mobile data traffic continues to increase, small cell wireless backhaul systems are projected to handle a quarter of mobile traffic by 2016, according to analyst firm Infonetics. This trend is reshaping mobile networks and carriers are looking for ways to simplify complexity and costs of small cell deployment.

Addressing massive distributed workloads

Altera also said that it is working with Microsoft Research and Bing to accelerate portions of the web search engine, claiming that programmable logic is critical DNA in software-defined data centres. The deal will leverage Altera's FPGAs to accelerate the processing of large amounts of data on servers.

Microsoft shared key developments in a research that details how Altera's technologies are used to increase performance.

"The performance requirements for today's large data centre workloads are outstripping what general-purpose servers can provide, so we ran a pilot using Altera technology to deliver more acceleration than software running on servers alone," said Doug Burger, director of Client and Cloud Applications in Microsoft Research's Technology division. "We set a performance target that would be a significant throughput gain, while simultaneously permitting more advanced search ranking models to be run. Compared to a pure software implementation, our reconfigurable acceleration fabric permitted a 90 per cent improvement in throughput at each ranking server, with great system stability."

Based on the results, Bing plans to roll out FPGA-accelerated servers to process customer searches in one of its data centres starting in early 2015.

Bing Catapult fabric

Microsoft Research's Bing "Catapult" Fabric: An Altera Stratix FPGA sits on a board inside each server, accessible through PCIe, and wired directly to FPGAs in other servers to accelerate Bing workloads. Source: Altera

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