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GPON SoC does FTTH with Linux

Aug 13, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 329 views

Freescale Semiconductor announced a low-cost system-on-chip (SoC) for gigabit passive optical network (GPON) devices used in fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments. Equipped with an e300 PowerPC core, and supplied with a Linux 2.6 BSP (board support package), the MSC7104 GPON supports data rates of 2.4Gbps downstream and 1.2Gbps upstream, according to Freescale.

Freescale claims to be a “volume leader” in GPON (ITU G.984), a technology that is typically used in FTTH deployments. With GPON, a single fiber is divided by passive (non-powered) splitters into 32 branches. Other semiconductor firms offering Linux-ready chips for the GPON market include PMC-Sierra, Conexant, and Cavium.

Priced at $12 in volume, the MSC7104 GPON is said to be a lower-cost version of Freescale's MSC7120 part, which the company says is widely deployed. The new SoC is specifically designed for broadband passive optical network termination (ONT) applications, says Freescale. Integrated within Optical Network Units (ONUs) located near end users, ONT devices convert light pulses from fiber-optic lines to the electrical pulses used by GbE networks.

The MSC7104 SoC is based on Freescale's e300 PowerPC core clocked to 266MHz, which includes a 16KB instruction cache and 16KB data cache. The e300, which provides the foundation for Freescale's PowerQUICC II Pro processors, is integrated with a GPON TC/MAC, dual gigabit Ethernet TC/MACs, and a clock and data recovery (CDR) unit. The data path engine and e300 are tightly integrated to provide data forwarding throughput rates, claims the company.

Freescale MSC7104 GPON function block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

Features of the MSC7104 GPON are said to include:

  • Freescale e300 PowerPC core clocked at 266MHz
  • PON subsystem with CDR and support for ITU-T G.984 GPON Encapsulation Mode (GEM)
  • Dual 10/100/1000 Ethernet MAC controllers with GMII, RGMII, MII, and FIFO8 interfaces
  • Hardware bridge for filtering and forwarding packets
  • 32-bit DDR2 memory controller
  • Local bus controller (LBIU) for 26-bit address bus and 8/16-bit data bus
  • Peripherals including DUART, I2C and SPI interfaces, TDM port, JTAG port, and 48 GPIOs
  • Up to 2.4Gbps downstream and 1.2Gbps upstream bandwidth
  • Dynamic power management
  • Pin-compatible with MSC7120
  • 90nm fabricated, 456-pin PBGA package
  • BSP with Linux 2.6, U-Boot, and drivers for bridge, LAN, and PON
  • OpenCon Systems reference design kit with OMCI (ONT Management Control Interface) software

Stated Nikolay Guenov, portfolio manager for Freescale's Networking Systems division, “We intend to spur adoption of GPON technology by creating cost-effective entry points into the market.”

Stated IDC senior analyst Aileen Arcilla, “Reducing the cost of GPON deployment is especially important in greenfield markets such as the Asia-Pacific region where the potential for mass adoption is high.”


Freescale is sampling the MSC7104 to alpha customers in the third quarter of this year, says the company, with pricing starting at $12 for 10K quantities. More information may be found here.

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