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It is now practically impossible to discuss doing an NPU development.
The NPU marketing people admit that "Network Processor" has almost become a dirty word.
I work for a medium size company and we are still unlikely to outsource to a third party support company. What do you do when you need to change the features or migrate it? If you outsource it won't the competition be able to do the exact same thing for less money when the third party company sells it to them?
The in house software teams tend to be small and the timelines are short so developing all the NP SW elements from scratch the Intel way is a non starter.
They need a serious open source system of pre optimized SW components that the OEMs can get rolling with e.g. classification, policing, modification, TM, queuing, scheduling, WRR, WFQ etc. This could get them closer to being able to compete against Agere which has most of that stuff built into the HW.
My other problem is board space. I do not have room for the 4-6 memory buses that some 4-5Gbps NPs require.
There seems to be a growing number of low end "packet processor" devices that don't look so much like NPs but do similar functions.