It is noteworthy that with this expansion LSI will not only be able to access a broad range of ARM® processors, including the ARM Cortex™-A15 processor with virtualization support and future ARM processors, but they also can access ARM’s on-chip interconnect technology, essential IP in the development of high performance cache coherency of multicore applications. The latest on-chip interconnect technology from ARM will enable future products from LSI to have at least eight or more cores in a single SoC. This scalability, to a high number of cores, is one of the most important features that telecommunication OEMs, who are always bandwidth and performance-hungry, look for when designing their next generation systems.
Unlike the server market where there have been many headlines about ARM that have attracted a lot attention, much of the activity in the telecom market occurs in “stealth mode” with a smaller, more focused industry audience. More recently several announcements in the industry are foretelling an industry trend.
Let’s take a look back at 2011. In January, Cavium and ARM strengthened their Partnership to develop next generation multicore SoCs for broadband networking applications. In August, HiSilicon licensed ARM technology for use in innovative 3G/4G basestation and networking infrastructure. At the end of October, AppliedMicro disclosed the world’s first 64-bit based ARMv8 core just after ARM did a technology announcement its ARMv8 architecture. These announcements came on top of some established ARM Partners in the networking space like Marvell who have been shipping into networking with ARM solutions for quite some time. ARM is definitely on a surge in telecommunications marketing.
Why? Telecom OEMs who have long been restricted in a closed system see the benefits and choice that ARM’s strong partnership and ecosystem can bring to them, including more and more open source software which many OEMs in this space are already benefiting from.
In addition, the benefits that the ARM processors bring in terms of energy efficiency (i.e. power consumed per Mhz) are now augmented with advantages in terms of performance per Mhz. Traditionally the telecom OEMs would make architecture selections with a mindset to achieve high performance and high bandwidth at any cost. They would rather sacrifice the software compatibility, ease of use and maintainability to adopt a fully custom, niche special chip, and then build up system software from scratch. This kind of fully custom system software, essentially tailored for a particular chip, could not evolve easily into a common platform product.
However, as technology has evolved, especially with the performance and energy efficiency that the ARM processor and on-chip interconnect system IP can deliver, the performance is not an inhibitor anymore. The benefits of a broad ecosystem, and the ability to seamlessly move applications and develop common platform software, means significant savings in development and maintenance costs can be obtained. In addition, with the trend to deploy more cloud-based services, the general-purpose processor is becoming more attractive to telecoms OEMs as they see a trend which is the fusion of telecoms equipment and servers, but with the need for traditional energy efficiency constraints. The Cortex-A15 processor with virtualization support and all the activities that are going on in the server market mean that the Cortex-A15 processor is the right product in this market at the right time.
Winnie Shao, Enterprise Segment Marketing, ARM. Winnie joined ARM in 2011 with over 10 years experience with network processing. She now focuses on driving high performance enterprise solutions in the China market.
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