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MIPS64 network processors come with Linux

Jan 31, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Cavium Networks has expanded its line of single- and multi-core MIPS64 network processors, adding 10 SoCs (system-on-chips) priced from $20 to $125, in quantity. The CN3000- and CN3100-series chips come with a Linux SDK (software development kit), and target networking equipment with throughputs ranging from 100 Mbps to 2 Gbps.

Cavium's complete Octeon family includes its CN3600 and CN3800 chip lines, and comprises SoCs with one- to 16 MIPS64 software-compatible cores. This allows network equipment vendors to re-use the same software in devices at a wide range of price and performance points, Cavium says. The Octeon chips target routers, switches, unified threat management (UTM) appliances, application-aware gateways, triple-play gateways, storage networking, and WLAN and 3G access and aggregation devices.

Cavium says basing network equipment on chips with multiple cores allows the one-chip control and signal planes, reducing BOM (bill-of-materials) cost and footprint, while providing faster interprocess communication. This in turn better supports emerging multi-layer security requirements, including deep packet inspection, encryption, authentication, intrusion prevention, and anti-virus features, the company says.

CN3000 and CN3100 block diagrams
(Click either to enlarge)

The new Octeon CN3100 and CN3000 series processors use the same “cnMIPS64” core found in Cavium's CN3800 and CN3600 series chips. Cavium claims the core to be the industry's first implementation of the MIPS64 Release 2 instruction set architecture. In the CN3000 and CN3100 lines, the cores are clocked between 300MHz to 550MHz, and maximum power consumption is said to range from 2 to 7 Watts.

The CN3000 and CN3100 SoCs offer a variety of I/O options, including gigabit Ethernet, PCI/PCI-X, DDR2, USB 2.0 with PHY, TDM/PCM for voice applications, GPIO, SPI, UARTs, and an expansion bus. Additionally, the new CN3000 and CN3100 processors are available with hardware accelerators for communications, secure communications, and network service processing.

The CN3000 and CN3100 SoCs support standard embedded operating systems such as Linux, including commercially supported OSes from MontaVista and Wind River. Additionally, Cavium Networks provides an SDK along with the chips that includes a Linux kernel, GNU tool-chain, GDB debugger, and third-party products aimed at streamlining ports of MIPS32, MIPS64, and other C/C++ applications to the Octeon chips.

Linley Gwennap, principal analyst at the Linley Group, said, “Cavium is unique in offering a software-compatible family scaling from a single general-purpose CPU to 16 CPUs in a single chip.”

Cavium CEO Syed Ali stated, “The new Octeon processors are a result of our relentless focus on top-to-bottom scalability. We now offer the broadest lineup of integrated MIPS64 processors to enable unprecedented software re-use by our customers across a wide range of price and performance points.”


The CN3100 will begin shipping in Q1, priced between $50 and $125 in 10K quantities. The CN3000 chips will follow in Q2, priced from $20 to $40 in 50K quantities.

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