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Intel’s New Families of NPUs

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With a goal of boosting already robust network processor market segment sales, Intel announced two new families of network processor units (NPUs) for traditional communications applications and for the emerging embedded networking segment.

Network processors in traditional communications systems help to power many access and edge networking applications such as DSLAMs, wireless access switches and enterprise router line cards. Now, Intel’s NPUs are also being used in embedded networking applications in industrial automation environments — instead of custom components. The benefit to equipment manufacturers is a faster time-to-market with customizable components.

“The performance and flexibility of our network processor technology has become very attractive to new networking segments such as automation and control,” said Doug Davis, vice president and general manager of the Infrastructure Processor Division, Intel Communications Group. “Network processors are no longer just about relentless pursuit of line speed; they now need to combine more features and flexibility that allows customers to customize designs for their individual specifications.”

The Intel IXP460 and Intel IXP465 network processors are the latest additions to the Intel IXP4XX product line and offer a higher speed Intel XScale core, expanded connectivity options as well as enhancements to improve end system reliability and security.

These features are what helped attract such customers as Rockwell Automation to use Intel’s network processor technology. “Rockwell Automation has chosen to develop its next-generation products using Intel network processors instead of custom ASICs and other technologies. This allows our engineers to focus on our value-add,” said Scot Tutkovics, software engineering manager, Rockwell Automation. “The IXP465 meets our demanding design requirements including low power consumption, a high degree of reliability, built-in Ethernet, USB, real-time synchronization and other networking capabilities.” HP is also planning to use the IXP46X in a future line of high-end printers because of the scalable processing performance and on-chip integration of a wide variety of functions and interfaces.

The Intel IXP2325 and Intel IXP2350 network processors targeted for network access and edge applications, combine data plane and control plane processing capabilities in a single chip and are Intel’s first network processors built on 90nm process technology.

These NPUs deliver up to 2-Gbps line rates, while offering developers significant savings in part count, power consumption and board area. The IXP23XX network processors use the same hardware and software architecture as the rest of the IXP2XXX product line. “Using the scalable Intel network processor architecture for several of our product lines provides substantial savings of time and effort in both hardware and software design,” said Youngky Kim, senior vice president, Samsung Telecommunication Systems Division. “The performance and features of the IXP2350 allow us to apply these advantages to our next-generation wireless system design.”

Intel and members of the Intel Communications Alliance also announced development tools, hardware platforms, software building blocks, and application-specific software solutions to support the IXP23XX and IXP46X product lines.

Intel NPUs that were announced today at the Intel Developer Forum in Moscow will be shown at the Network Systems Design Conference, San Jose, Calif.; Oct. 19-21, Intel Developer Forum in Taiwan, Oct. 26-27; and Rockwell Automation Fair, Orlando, Fla., Oct. 27-28.

The IXP46X is sampling and priced at approximately $19 to $75 in quantities of 10,000, depending on speed and temperature requirements. The IXP23XX is also sampling with a price range depending on speed of approximately $84 to $142 in quantities of 10,000.

Intel, the world’s largest chip maker, is also a leading manufacturer of computer, networking and communications products.

Intel’s New Families of NPUs
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