Mindspeed enters comms processor fray
6/11/2012 5:30 AM EDT
SAN JOSE – Mindspeed injected a handful of new cores into its second-generation Comcerto family to create a communications processor that will compete with giants such as Broadcom, Cavium, Freescale and Marvell in a range of home and entry-level business systems.
The Comcerto 2000 builds in two ARM Cortex A9 cores, including ARM’s Neon instruction extensions and TrustZone security, running up to 1.2 GHz. It is Mindspeed’s first chip to use a new hardware accelerator called Opal using about a dozen unspecified RISC cores to handle packet-processing algorithms prior chips ran on a general-purpose processor. The chips also support Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 and serial ATA.
The 1.2 GHz chip can deliver bi-directional Ethernet rates, including NAT routing functions, at 2 Gbits/second for 64-byte packets. It can handle deep packet inspection at 200 Mbits/s for 1,500-byte packets.
Mindspeed claims the chip will be faster and more integrated than competing Freescale QorIQ parts. The high-end part is rated at 3.5 W.
“Others typically start at 3.5W and go up from there, so we are much lower in power and we will be very disruptive on pricing,” said Preetinder Virk, who left a job as a Freescale product director less than a month ago to become general manager of Mindspeed’s communications group, responsible for about half the company’s product revenue.
Mindspeed and Marvell are among the minority supporting ARM in comms processors. Most of the field currently uses MIPS or PowerPC cores. “People are asking for ARM-based products in comms space and we will serve this need,” said Virk.
The Comcerto 2000 chips, also available in a 900 MHz version, are aimed at a variety of uses. They span home gateways, routers and network-attached storage systems to small business routers, switches and Wi-Fi access points.
Mindspeed aims to package a full software stack based on open source code for each target application. It currently does not have a complete code base for small business routers.
“Most of the big guys put out a general Linux release,” said Virk. “We pick a vertical and provide basic software blocks for it,” he said.