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Building up the Communications Infrastructure to Keep Pace with Consumer Demand

All of the interesting gizmos get the attention of the mainstream media and even the industry press.  The various smart phones, IPTV, iPads and other devices that connect to the internet, especially via wireless, generate a great deal of excitement and sales.

However, these devices need an infrastructure to support them. As more devices come into use and the bandwidth demand increases to support advanced apps, the service providers are under pressure.  They need to deliver quality service at an acceptable price and still make a profit.  The concern over running out of internet addresses for all of these devices has been raised recently.  This is IPv4 which uses 32-bit address.  The industry is moving to IPv6 which uses 128-bits.  However, the deployment for IPv6 is still very low.

In recent weeks two companies have made significant product announcements to address the needs of the communications infrastructure.

In July 2010 NetLogic Microsystems launched the NLX321103A, a three chip set that handles a broad range of packet-processing functions at speeds up to 40Gbits/sec.  This comes out of the acquisition of RMI Corp. (June 2009).  The NLX321103A includes RMI’s 8-core, quad-threaded XLR processor.  This is a MIPS64 based design for which the company holds an architectural license.  NetLogic’s solution will enable platforms, such as mobile infrastructure, to reduce the bill of materials (BOM) and increase performance.  It also supports IPv6.

Xelerated, a Swedish company, has released its third generation AX family of programmable Ethernet switches.  The AX switches are designed for a new generation of high-density, high-capacity access systems, including point-to-point Ethernet, GE and 10GE, as well as point-to-multipoint EPON, GPON, 10GEPON and XGPON.

Compared to the prior generation, Xelerated’s latest product line increases the data throughput rate by about 2.5 times.  The platform solutions are able to stay within the same power envelope.  The AX family is a highly integrated solution which includes DDR3 memory controller and TCAM.  The result is that Xelerated’s solution can reduce the total BOM cost of a line card.

As it happens Netlogic and Xelerated partner in various areas.  Among these are content-aware processors, TCAM / network search engines, and 10/40/100 Gigabit Ethernet interconnects.

The subject of dealing with the challenges faced by communications service providers was addressed at the Semico Outlook Conference (March 2010).  Reducing costs and delivering more bandwidth and higher performance, while remaining profitable, is a challenge.  This has to be met if all of the consumer devices are going to be sold.  It comes down to chip vendors to provide viable solutions.

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