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Multi-threaded MIPS SoCs power Linux gateway designs

May 30, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 10 views

PMC-Sierra will sample SoCs (system-on-chip processors) and reference designs targeting residential gateways (RGs) for next-generation broadband networks this quarter. The Multi-Service Platform MSP7100-series products are based on multithreaded MIPS34K cores, and aim to bring “carrier class” services such as IPTV and VoIP to home networks. They come with Linux SDKs (software development kits).

The MSP7100 chips are said to be the first products based on MIPS's 34K core, which shipped this February. The 34K core uses hardware multi-threading to support multiple OSes, in either SMP or AMP (symmetrical or asymmetrical multiprocessing) configurations. Commercial Linux support for the 34K core became available earlier this month from TimeSys, and Virtio shipped a 34K emulator in February.

The MSP7100 chip family will initially include an MSP7120 model with an integrated ADSL/ADSL2/ADSL2+ modem, and an MSP7130 model that provides an Ethernet WAN interface for support of VDSL2, xPON, or home router applications. Both SoCs integrate PCI, USB2.0 host/client interfaces, and a TDM (time division multiplexing) interface for connection to external SLIC/SLAC devices.

MSP7120 architecture diagram

Claimed features for both MSP7100 chips include:

  • 180,000 packets-per-second IP forwarding performance to support new high-bandwidth broadband access technologies, such as VDSL2 and Fiber-To-The-Home
  • A multi-service residential gateway platform that enables the co-existence of Quality of Service (QoS)-sensitive services, such as VoIP and IPTV, and best-effort services, such as file-sharing and Internet access, within the digital home
  • Enhanced control and visibility for carrier remote management

Reference Designs

PMC-Sierra's MSP7100 SoCs will be available with hardware reference designs supporting several WAN interface options, including ADSL2+, VDSL2, Ethernet, and EPON (Ethernet PON).

Click each of the following, to see a block diagram of the corresponding reference design:

Claimed features and benefits of the MSP7100 designs include:

  • Bidirectional wire-rate Fast Ethernet forwarding of small packets
  • Hardware multi-threaded MIPS32 system processor, with a “superior” ability to provide QoS priority to identified traffic flows, and “superior” software programming model compared to multi-core architectures
  • A 300 percent packet throughput improvement compared to single-threaded processors of similar frequency
  • Guaranteed data path performance
  • Advanced QoS feature set
  • Enhanced control and visibility for remote management
  • Hardware IPSec acceleration
  • Proven VoIP terminal adaptor functionality
  • An Open Source programming model that leverages standard tools and a large software ecosystem

Linux-based SDK

The MSP7100 gateway reference designs come with a Linux based residential gateway SDK (software development kit. In addition to a Linux 2.6 kernel, the SDK includes:

  • A high-performance networking stack with rich QoS features
  • A management framework SSP said to support TR-098 data models required for TR-069 remote manageability
  • Optional carrier-certified VoIP terminal adapter functionality

Dino Bekis, VP of Marketing for PMC-Sierra's communication products division, stated, “The MSP7100 residential gateway platform's ability to provide superior throughput, quality of service and remote management enables carriers to deliver profit-generating enhanced IP services into the digital home.”

Joseph Byrne, senior analyst at the Linley Group, stated, “PMC-Sierra's new MSP7100 multi-service processor is the first product on the market featuring MIPS Technologies' 34K hardware multi-threaded core. Hardware multi-threading and processor virtualization are effective means to accelerate packet processing and enable allocation of dedicated bandwidth to critical tasks.”

Hong-Yuh Lee, president of Arcadyan, stated, “The multi-threaded data path offers the dramatic packet throughput improvements plus carrier-class QoS, integrated VoIP, and superior security.”


The MSP7100 SoCs and designs will sample in Q2. They will be demonstrated at Globalcomm in Chicago, Jun. 5-7, and at Computex Taipei, June 6-10.

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