SDN and NFV are changing the requirements for multicore processors. Virtualized networks with virtual functions running on standard platforms require hardware systems that integrate more than a standard server processor. SDN and NFV significantly increase East-West packet traffic between systems requiring higher-speed network interfaces and lower-latency packet processing. Integrated multicore processors with high-speed networking interfaces and accelerators for packet and security processing offer a cost-effective solution for hardware systems used in demanding SDN and NFV applications.
The shift to SDN- and NFV-based solutions offer service providers the opportunity to increase service flexibility, reduce operating expense and use cost-effective server platforms. This shift is in contrast to the significant investment made by equipment manufacturers to build dedicated systems that can handle the dramatic increase in network bandwidth. These dedicated systems have high-speed networking interfaces and hardware accelerators for packet processing and application-specific tasks. Integrated multicore processors allow the development of cost-effective common hardware platforms that support high-speed network interfaces and accelerated packet processing without the dedicated hardware used in application-specific systems.
Integrated multicore processors based on MIPS and PowerPC cores have been available for almost 10 years. During the last two years, the number of integrated multicore processors has dramatically increased. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) and Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (Nasdaq: AMCC) have developed new integrated multicore processor architectures. Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), Cavium Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: CAVM) and Freescale Semiconductor Inc. have made their architectures more flexible to include new processor families based on ARMv8 cores. Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) is sampling the Intel Xeon processor D family of integrated multicore processors. Both ARM Ltd. (Nasdaq: ARMHY; London: ARM) and Imagination Technologies Group plc have IP available that makes the development of new integrated multicore processors significantly easier.