Mindspeed’s multi-core ARM Cortex-A-based comms processor family

Mindspeed’s multi-core ARM Cortex-A-based comms processor family

Clive Maxfield

6/11/2012 1:36 PM EDT

The folks at Mindspeed Technologies have just announced the introduction of their Comcerto 2000 family of multi-core ARM Cortex-A CPU-based communications processors.
Bringing software defined networking (SDN) to the edge of the network, the processors enable a new generation of products for switching, routing, security, multi-service gateways, enterprise class wireless access points and controllers, network attached storage and voice-over-IP (VoIP) applications for residential, enterprise and networking equipment for small and medium businesses.

This processor family is ideally suited for either control processors or for mixed control and data plane applications.

The first two devices in the series are Comcerto C2100 and C2200 with single-core and dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processors, respectively, with symmetric multi-processing (SMP), coherent level two cache and ARM TrustZone security.
Both devices include Mindspeed’s OPAL (Open Packet Acceleration Logic) engine, a wire rate gigabit-speed programmable data-path acceleration engine and a comprehensive set of I/O and peripherals, as well as support for DDR3 with ECC.

This enables a new class of cost-effective products that support new protocols and higher speeds with lower power consumption.  Silicon, carrier-grade software and Linux software design kits (SDK) are sampling now.

In addition to the high-performance ARM IP-based subsystem, OPAL is a collection of fully-programmable wire speed network accelerators, which include powerful engines for IPv6 packet forwarding / network address translation (NAT), firewall/VPN, IPSec/SSL security processing, deep packet inspection (DPI), quality of service (QoS) and storage network processing.
Through intelligent offloading, the Comcerto C2000 range supports wire rate Gigabit-per-second IPv6 NAT and firewall applications without utilizing the ARM Cortex processors, keeping them fully available to run value-added applications from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) or service providers. 

This process will allow customers to differentiate and monetize their services. For example, in wireless enterprise access points for dual-band, multi-radio 802.11 ac, the system can offload Wi-Fi and protocol packet processing, while ARM Cortex processors are available to run enterprise class services such as policy, authentication and roaming.

“The Comcerto 2000 is the first in a new family of high-performance multi-core ARM IP-based communications processors from Mindspeed,” explained Marco E. Bello, executive director of marketing and product management, customer premises equipment (CPE), at Mindspeed. “We are building on the proven success of the dual core Comcerto 1000 processor, widely deployed in carrier-grade networking products around the world, to deliver industry changing price, power and performance to our customers. The Comcerto 2000 processor family with the OPAL engine brings the capability of software defined networking to a new class of products.”

“Scalable multi-core technology from ARM is enabling a new level of energy-efficiency and performance in networking communications applications,” said Simon Segars, executive vice president and general manager, processor and physical IP divisions, ARM Ltd..

“The Comcerto 2000 product line builds on the success of Mindspeed’s previous ARM processor-based devices to deliver the latest, high-performance multi-core devices in the networking space.”

“Mindspeed has built up a solid reputation in delivering carrier-grade software and SoCs for broadband customer premises equipment (CPE) to some very demanding carriers. With the Comcerto 2000 and the upcoming devices in the family, Mindspeed is aggressively expanding into the more mainstream communications processor market,” said Jeff Heynen, directing analyst, broadband access and video, at Infonetics.

“Software Defined Networking is a critically important area for the networking industry, and is now established in the core-of the network; but Mindspeed supporting it in this family of processors will extend its deployment to a variety of new applications.

Combined with ARM’s emphasis on the networking segment, this represents a significant challenge to some incumbent processor vendors.”

The Comcerto 2000 can be used as a control and management processor or as an integrated control and data path processor.

The network accelerators are fully programmable and configurable through an API, allowing the concept of SDN to be extended to high-volume communications applications at the edge of the network.

Thanks to a comprehensive set of security features, including ARM TrustZone, secure boot, OTP, IPSEC and SSL, the new processors can be used in a variety of secure systems, including security gateways or for applications requiring digital rights management (DRM) support, such as next-generation IP-based set top boxes, carrier-software solutions for switching, routing and VoIP functions, as well as for specific vertical market applications. 

The new devices are backward compatible with the wide range of carrier-proven software developed for Comcerto 100 and 1000 communications processors, enabling manufacturers to rapidly develop a family of products for different price-performance points.
Key functionality and software support includes:

  • 1.2GHz single or dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor with SMP and ARM Neon™ DSPs
  • Full ARM Cortex processor off load with OPAL: Open Packet Acceleration Logic, a combination of accelerators, such as Packet classification and forwarding for NAT, VPN/firewall applications, QoS processor, DPI engine, security processing accelerator for IPSec/SSL processing, TCP offload engine for NAS, VoIP media processing and a general purpose accelerator for running customer power & management control processing or proprietary protocol processing
  • OPAL supports 2Gbps NAT, PPPoE and VPN at 64byte packet, with ARM cores fully offloaded
  • Extensive I/O support including support for three GEMAC (SGMII, GMII, RGMII), USB 2.0 & 3.0, PCI Gen 2, SATA, DECT, SLIC / SLAC and TDM ports
  • XOR engine RAID acceleration
  • Support for DDR3 with ECC support
  • TrustZone and secure boot support
  • Carrier grade IPv6/IPv4 packet forwarding, NAT, firewall, QoS and IPSec/SSL stack support
  • NAS applications stack implementation utilizing on chip TOE storage processing accelerator
  • Carrier grade VoIP supporting up to 16 complex codecs, robust echo cancellation, fax and modem support; Integrated CAT-iq compliant DECT baseband controller; VoIP applications layer stack with SIP support
  • Full-fledged Linux distribution with web-based GUI, Java and OSGI support
  • MLC NAND flash controller with ECC

Future devices in the family will include higher count multi-core, virtualization support, and software support for additional vertical markets and technologies, such as SDN.

The first two devices in the new family, the C2200 dual-core and the C2100 single-core, are sampling to lead customers now. Carrier grade software and Linux SDKs are also sampling now.




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