Cisco has unveiled a new scalable and programmable network processor it is billing as the world's most advanced in those areas. It's aimed at enabling the kind of rapid changes needed to support software-defined networking (SDN) and the massive number of machine-to-machine connections that lie ahead.
The Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) nPower X1 integrated network processor is capable of scaling to multi-terabit performance levels while handling trillions of transactions. That performance level is going to be required in the future, not just to enable SDN, but also to facilitate the rapid turning up and turning down of connections for M2M on a broad scale, says Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin.
"The Internet of things changes a lot of things for the devices that power the Internet in the sense that there will be a lot more connections than we have had in the past," Perrin says. "The traffic flowing between those connections may not be tremendous, but the speed of the transactions is much quicker. The dimension of scale required reflects not just how many bits, but how quickly you can set up and tear down traffic flows, and deal with an order of magnitude more connections."
According to Cisco, the nPower X1 incorporates over 50 patents, is the first chip with 400 Gbit/s throughput, and has 4 billion transistors on a single chip. Its programmable control capabilities are set up to handle hundreds of millions of unique transactions. That capacity is going to be needed once our thermostats, refrigerators, and beer mugs have always-on network connections. (For a lively discussion of 400 Gig performance issues, check out this blog.)
Why this matters
Cisco says this chip has eight times the throughput and requires one-quarter the power per bit. It's clear that SDN will require more processing capability if networks are to be reconfigured via software on the fly. It's also clear that M2M apps will need more rapid processing and thus chips like this one are inevitably required.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Ethernet & SDN Expo, a Light Reading Live event that takes place on October 2-3, 2013 at the Javits Center in New York City. Co-located with Interop, Light Reading's Ethernet & SDN Expo will focus on how the convergence of Carrier Ethernet 2.0 with emerging carrier software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies could change the whole telecom landscape for service providers. For more information, or to register, click