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Intel launches XScale-based network processor family

Feb 27, 2002 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

San Francisco; Intel Developer Forum (IDF) — (press release excerpt) — at the IDF this week, Intel unveiled a family of network processors and a processor for networked storage application based on the advanced Intel XScale technology. Combined with the recent introduction of Intel XScale core-based application processors for handheld communications devices, today's announcement demonstrates the versatility of Intel's XScale technology.

The new XScale technology-based products include the industry's broadest line of network processors, which are up to 16 times faster than previous offerings. The network processors are designed for applications extending from the home and office to service providers' central switching office. Intel also unveiled an integrated I/O processor, boasting more than twice the speed of previous Intel I/O processors, aimed at reducing the cost and complexity of designing networked storage devices.

The common thread in the new products is the Intel XScale technology, which combines high performance and programming flexibility so developers can add powerful features, with reduced power consumption so products will not overheat in densely packed equipment racks. In support of the new processors, more than 30 companies, including members of the Intel Internet Exchange Architecture Developer Network, today announced plans to provide components, software and design tools to enhance the ability to design new products incorporating the new processors. The Intel Communications Fund, a $500 million strategic equity investment fund, is supporting this effort with investments in more than 40 companies.

The new network processors are part of the Intel Internet Exchange Architecture, a blueprint for building blocks that form the foundation of advanced communications equipment. The new processors help enable rich communications services, such as security, encryption and traffic management, at sustained line speeds up to 10 Gbps. Network processors are programmable chips that integrate the functions necessary to transport packets of data in a network. They form the foundation for a wide variety of communications equipment.

The new family includes the IXP2800 network processor for network core applications, such as ultrahigh-speed switch/routers; the IXP2400 network processor for multiservice switches and similar equipment at the network edge; and the IXP425 network processor for equipment that brings digital subscriber line (DSL), cable Internet service and wireless networking to homes and offices. The fully programmable IXP2800 and IXP2400 network processors operate at 10 Gbps (OC-192) and 2.5 Gbps (OC-48), respectively, and utilize a technological advancement called “Hyper Task Chaining” that enables the processors to perform simultaneously numerous operations, thus ensuring full network performance and sufficient “headroom” to accommodate complex services. The IXP2800 network processor will be the first communications chip built on Intel's 0.13-micron technology, increasing performance and decreasing die size. The IXP425 network processor simplifies system design by supporting voice, video, and data applications across a wide range of transport mediums, including common versions of DSL, Internet cable, HDLC, IEEE 802.11x wireless and Ethernet.

The Intel IOP321 I/O processor, which operates at 400 or 600 MHz, is optimized for high performance, cost-effective networked storage devices. Reduced power consumption eliminates the need for a heat sink and its single-chip design enables developers to conserve space on system motherboards. The Intel IOP321 I/O processor supports the PCI-X bus that allows servers and storage devices to transfer data faster within systems, helps alleviate communication bottlenecks and improves the overall system I/O performance. The PCI-X bus enables single chip RAID-on-motherboard implementations, simplifying the development of RAID applications, in which data is stored across multiple disk drives to ensure access to all data even if a drive is lost. Intel also released the Intel IQ80321 development kit, which includes resources to begin development of networked storage devices utilizing the Intel IOP321 I/O processor.

The IXP425 Network Processor will cost $25 to $45, depending on speed. It will be available for general sampling in the second quarter and in production in the third quarter. Extended temperature versions of the network processor are available. The Intel IOP321 I/O processor is available now to OEMs for $54 and $74 for the 400 MHz and 600 MHz versions, respectively. All pricing in quantities of 10,000. Pricing and Availability The IXP2800 and IXP2400 Network Processors will cost $485 to $695 and $230 to $360, respectively, depending on speed. They will be available for general sampling in the third quarter and in production by the end of the year.

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