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10-GbE packet processor cards run Linux

Mar 18, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 13 views

GE Fanuc announced two PCI Express “network packet processor” cards that come with Linux support packages (LSPs) and development tools. The WANic 56511 and 56512 are based on 12-way Octeon processors, and can offload packet processing from communications appliances and servers, says the company.

(Click for larger view of the WANic 56512)

The WANic 5651x packet processors are aimed at commercial, telecommunications, and defense applications that require secure IP communications and high-bandwidth packet processing based on PCI Express, says GE Fanuc. Specific touted applications include session border controllers, secure access (IPsec), firewalls, network address translation (NAT), traffic management, router/switch operations, deep packet inspection (DPI), and “lawful” intercept. Because the WANic boards execute traffic shaping, security algorithms, compression, and encryption before network traffic reaches the server, they are billed as cost-effective alternatives to upgrading server host processors.

WANic 56511

The WANic 56511 and 56512 are the first PCI Express packet processors to incorporate Cavium's Octeon Plus CN5650 12-core, 750MHz processor from Cavium Networks, as well as 10Gb Ethernet interfaces, claims GE Fanuc. The CN5650 (see block diagtram below) falls in the mid range of Cavium's high-end Octeon Plus processors, which also include more powerful CN58xx parts. The company's previous WANic packet processors have used various Octeon Plus processors, but offered gigabit Ethernet interfaces.

Cavium Octeon Plus CN56xx block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

Both new WANic boards back up the CN5650 with 4GB of DDR2 SDRAM packet memory, up to 4GB of flash, and 32MB of “persistent” DDR SDRAM. The WANic 56512 offers dual 10Gb Ethernet interfaces, while the 56511 has one, and the 56512 provides an eight-lane PCI Express host interface instead of the 56511's four lanes.

Specifications listed for the WANic 56511 and 56512 include:

  • Processor — Cavium Octeon Plus CN5650 (12-core) @ 750MHz
  • Cache — 2MB of shared L2
  • Memory — up to 4GB (standard) of high-speed DDR2 SDRAM packet memory via VLP Mini-RDIMMs
  • Flash — 32MB of DDR SDRAM; up to 4GB USB flash disk (2GB standard)
  • Networking — 2 x (56512) or 1 x (56511) 10-gigabit Ethernet interfaces routed to front panel
  • PCI Express — 8x PCI-Express host interface (56512) or 4x (56511)
  • Other features — option for SR/LR fiber or direct attach copper interfaces for line connection
  • Operating system — Cavium/Debian Linux

Development software provided for the boards includes a Linux Support Package (LSP) based on Cavium's Debian-based distribution, as well as an embedded bootloader, device drivers, and sample application code. The boards also ship with a development package that includes GE Fanuc's Power On Self Test (POST) software, which communicates with related diagnostic firmware embedded in the hardware.

Stated Rubin Dhillon, Communications Product Manager at GE Fanuc, “As networks expand, become larger, and more complex our customers are looking to add 10Gbit Ethernet interfaces to their communications systems. However, this places an additional processing burden on those systems.”


The WANic 56511 and 56512 will ship in the second quarter at an undisclosed price, says GE Fanuc. More information on the WANic 56511 may be found here, and more on the WANic 56512 may be found here.

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