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Security appliance uses Intel SoC

Sep 25, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 6 views

Portwell has announced a network appliance that uses Intel's EP80579 SoC (system on chip) and targets security and IP telephony applications. The CATO-3000 features seven gigabit Ethernet ports, PCI Express x4, 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch hard drive expansion, and Intel's QuickAssist technology, says Portwell.

(Click here for a larger view of Portwell's CATO-3000)

Intel's EP80579 in standard and “Quick Assist” versions
(Click image for more information)

Intel's EP80579, announced in July, is an SoC that integrates typical northbridge and southbridge functions with a Pentium M core clocked up to 1.2GHz. It includes a memory controller hub (MCH) supporting DDR2 RAM up to 800MHz, and there's an optional “QuickAssist” FPGA interface. See our earlier coverage, here, for more details.

If Intel expected the EP80579 to be a popular platform for network appliances, its wishes apparently have been granted. Lanner's FW-7570, for example, is a 1U network appliance device available in configurations with six, eight, or 10 gigabit Ethernet ports, while the same company's NS04-5150 supports NAS applications with four 3.5-inch drive bays. Meanwhile, Habey released its BIS-7750 earlier this week, a device targeting security, communications, and NAS (network attached storage), with five gigabit Ethernet ports, CompactFlash, PCI Express x4, and PCI Express Mini Card expansion.

Portwell CATO-3000

Into this suddenly crowded market enters Portwell's CATO-3000, a 17.45 x 10 x 1.75 inch (443 x 254 x 44mm) box that distinguishes itself a couple of different ways. First, Portwell has selected the QuickAsist version of the EP80579, touted by Intel as offering a coprocessor interface that has the potential to boost throughput by up to 800 pefcent.

Second, the CATO-3000 sports seven gigabit Ethernet ports with RJ45 connectors. Four of these ports use RGMII (reduced gigabit media independent interfaces), which use only 12 signaling pins apiece and are said by Portwell to be particularly appropriate for applications requiring hardware-accelerated security.

A fiber-optic interface is “available by request” on the RGMII ports, and the CATO-3000 also provides a two-port, “second-generation” LAN bypass segment, the company says. Further, the device features a built-in TDM (time division multiplexing) interface that is claimed to support up to 12 T1/E1 links simultaneously.

The CATO-3000 is available with all three EP80579 clock speeds — 600MHz, 1066MHz, or 1200MHz. It accepts up to 4GB of DDR2 memory via dual SODIMM sockets.

Like many other network appliances, the CATO-3000 does not have a VGA port. However, it includes a serial port, with RJ45 connector, that can be used to connect a console. A second serial port is offered via a pin header, and the device also has two front-panel USB ports.

For expansion, the CATO-3000 provides a front-access PCI Express x4 expansion slot, said to support half-size, full-height addon cards. There is also room internally for dual 2.5-inch hard drives when a PCIe card is fitted, or a single 3.5-inch hard drive if it is not, Portwell says.

Features and specifications published by Portwell for the CATO-3000 include:

  • Processor — Intel EP80579, clocked at 600MHz, 1GHz, or 1.2GHz, with QuickAssist coprocessor interface
  • Display — 2 x 16-line backlit LCD display, and four input buttons
  • Memory — Up to 4GB via dual SODIMM slots
  • Storage — Bays for dual 2.5-inch hard drives, or single 3.5-inch hard drive (the latter only when no PCIe card is fitted)
  • Networking — Seven gigabit Ethernet ports, three with RGMII interfaces, offering optional optical fiber compatibility and LAN bypass
  • Other I/O:
    • 2 x SATA II
    • 2 x USB 2.0
    • RJ45 serial connector (COM1) for console
    • Second serial port (COM2) with pin header

  • Expansion — 1 x PCI Express x4 slot
  • Operating temperature — 5 to 40 deg. C (41 to 104 deg. F)
  • Dimensions — 17.45 x 10 x 1.75 inches (443 x 254 x 44mm)
  • Weight — n/s
  • Power requirements — 150 Watt FlexATX power supply

Further information

Portwell did not release pricing information for the CATO-3000, but the device appears to be available now. Operating system support was not mentioned, but other devices using the EP80579 have been compatible with Linux, Windows XP, and Windows XP Embedded.

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