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1GHz PowerPC SoC targets NAS, runs on 3.5 Watts

Jun 10, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 22 views

AppliedMicro is sampling the first member of a 1GHz Power Architecture (PowerPC) system-on-a-chip (SoC) family for network attached storage (NAS) devices and media servers. The APM 821xx processor uses just 3.5 Watts, providing RAID 5 acceleration and a TCP/IP offload engine for networking applications, the company says.

The APM 821xx SoC (right) can be clocked at up to 1GHz, delivering up to 2,000 DMIPS (Dhrystone millions of instructions per second) of compute performance, claims AppliedMicro. The SoC enables storage devices to deliver more than 16 simultaneous streams of HD video for home networking applications, the company adds. 

The APM 821xx is based on a Power Architecture 464 processor core with 256KB Level 2 cache, a floating point unit (FPU), and a 16-bit or 32-bit DDR2 SDRAM memory controller, says AppliedMicro. An integrated "turbo" security engine and NAND flash controller are also said to be provided.

The APM 821xx integrates a TCP/IP offload engine for networking applications, as well as on-chip RAID 5 acceleration, thereby reducing BOM costs, system part counts, and board space, says the company.

The SoC also provides a 128-bit, high-bandwidth bus architecture with integrated peripherals. These are said to include PCI Express (PCIe), SATA, gigabit Ethernet, and USB 2.0 On-The-Go interfaces.

Power dissipation is "typically" less than 3.5 watts in operation, and less than 0.6W in standby, claims AppliedMicro.

Development tools are available, including evaluation kits, validation boards, and "comprehensive NAS reference designs," says the company. Third-party development tools support is said to be available from sources such as Abatron, Wind River, Lauterbauch, and Green Hills.

At press-time, the company had not yet confirmed that the tools include Linux board support packages, yet considering the Wind River name, the Linux-focused NAS market, and previous AppliedMicro processors, it would seem highly likely.

Last month, the company announced a lower-powered APM801xx PowerPC SoC with a Linux SDK and "Klondike" evaluation board. Costing only $10 in volume, the APM801xx (pictured at left) is billed as the world's smallest PowerPC SoC. The APM801xx can be clocked to 400MHz, 600MHz, or 800MHz, and can drive devices that run on a single Watt, says the company.

In-Stat: NAS market ready to explode

In today's announcement, AppliedMicro cited research from In-Stat, saying that home networking adoption in the U.S. has now passed the 50 percent mark. The market research firm estimates that the consumer network storage (CNS) market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 40 percent between 2009 and 2014, says AppliedMicro.

Stated Norm Bogen, VP Research, Digital Entertainment, for In-Stat, "Cost points have made it difficult to gain traction [in the CNS market], but AppliedMicro's ability to deliver performance at reduced costs could bring more robustness."

Stated Richard Lee, president of NAS maker Qnap Systems, "AppliedMicro's APM 821xx processor family has the robust performance metrics that our systems require to enable new feature sets, yet it meets the criteria for bill-of-materials costs for price-sensitive applications."

Stated Gopi Sirineni, VP of SMB and consumer business for AppliedMicro, "AppliedMicro's APM821xx family is ideal for this [NAS and media server] market because it can deliver outstanding networked storage performance with additional floating point acceleration for these cost-sensitive applications. End-users in the NAS market want new features, such as dynamic media archiving and retrieval, security and scalability and the APM821xx family delivers them with energy efficiency."


Limited sample quantities of the APM821xx are available now, and production quantities are expected in the second quarter, says AppliedMicro. The SoC will be available at less than $20 per piece for quantities of 10,000 pieces. Packaging is in a ROHS compliant, 18 x 18mm, 345-ball FBGA, says the company.

More information may eventually appear at the AppliedMicro website, here.

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