The report, "Network Processor User Survey: 2007 Market Trends," issued this week, includes results of a survey of 115 engineers, designers, and product managers from more than 50 equipment vendors and systems manufacturers.
The results affirm the growing acceptance of network processors among systems vendors, a process that's been slow but steady. (See Net Processors Reach the Mainstream and Net Processors Bloom at 10-Gig.)
"Network processors are becoming mature components, with most system developers already using them or planning to use them in the next one to two years," writes report author Simon Stanley, analyst-at-large for Heavy Reading.
More than 45 percent of those surveyed said their companies are using 10-Gbit/s network processors in some projects; a nearly equal amount said their companies are using 1-Gbit/s processors. And by far, the application most frequently cited for network processors was metro Ethernet.
You can see it in the headlines for the high-end network processor vendors. Just this week, ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) announced it would use 10-Gbit/s network processors from Xelerated Inc. for metro Ethernet gear. And EZchip Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: EZCH), rumored to have scored an Ethernet-related win at Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), announced a partnership with Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL) aimed at carrier Ethernet gear. (See ZTE Picks Xelerated, Juniper Readies Ethernet Launch, and EZchip, Marvell Partner.)
The other startup active in 10 Gbit/s is Bay Microsystems Inc. , which didn't have a recent metro Ethernet announcement to point to. But Bay did jointly develop a high-speed switching system with Network Equipment Technologies Inc. (net.com) (NYSE: NWK), and the platform recently got its initial orders from customers including the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) . (See Bay, NET Team Up.)
But the 10-Gbit/s processor that tops them all is Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), with its IXP2800 and IXP2850 -- chips that got off to a slow start as Intel waited for a 10-Gbit/s market to emerge. (See Intel Isn't Through With NPUs and Will Intel Trash Telecom?.) Intel also got the best rating from respondents, well outpacing second-placer Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM).
It's true low-end network processors are getting a lot of play -- nearly-public Wintegra Inc. built its name on that market. (See Net Processors Await an IPO.) But it seems 10- and even 40-Gbit/s chips are starting to become important. The survey suggests that "the focus for network processors is shifting away from the low end and mid-range to these high performance applications," Stanley writes.
The report also covers developer requirements and vendor selection criteria, based on the survey results. Its scope includes low-end and general-purpose network processors as well. Other companies mentioned in the report include:
- Agere Systems Inc. (NYSE: AGR.A)
- Cavium Inc. (Nasdaq: CAVM)
- Freescale Semiconductor Inc.
- Hifn Inc. (Nasdaq: HIFN)
- Mindspeed Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: MSPD)
- PMC-Sierra Inc. (Nasdaq: PMCS)
- Raza Microelectronics Inc.
- Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: VTSS)
- Wintegra Inc.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
The report, Network Processor User Survey: 2007 Market Trends, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Components Insider, priced at $1,295. Individual reports are available for $900. For more information, or to subscribe, please visit: www.lightreading.com/commchip.