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December 02, 2010

Network Processor Providers Partner With Software Providers to Maximize Opportunities

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

How much focus do you allow in selecting the right network processor for your environment? Is it just a given that everyone in your space uses the same thing, or is there is a school of thought that should be explored to ensure you select the right solution for your environment?

As captured in this recent piece, 6WIND plays a significant role in the embedded software space that works with specific network processor solutions to ensure companies are able to optimize their performance within a given environment. As demands are consistently increasing on the network, the performance of the network processor has come into the spotlight.

The performance challenge does lie solely on the network processors, however, as it is truly an issue surrounding infrastructure equipment and application servers. Industry experts suggest that the only way to manage such challenges is to use multi-core technology for both generic and DSP processors.

TI recently announced its C66x multi-core DSP family, which is expected to speak directly to this demand. The next focus and major issue in this space is to develop packet processing software that is capable of extracting the highest level of performance possible from the new generation of network processors.

There is also an important partnership that must exist between hardware and software providers if the multi-core architectures are to survive. With that in mind, the best hardware/software model to build the complete networking solution for multi-core is still up for debate. Freescale (News - Alert) suggests that the right method is to have the complete hardware-software solution provided by the network processor vendor.

A novel approach, it has the potential to work for low-end equipment that demands packaged software. It is important to note that there are some software companies that have been providing such key solutions for a while now that appeal to single core network processors. This approach, however, will not work for mid-range and high equipment.

The biggest challenge is that equipment manufacturers are seeking open and portable solutions and network processor providers are not qualified to provide the portable solutions that will work across a variety of hardware architectures.

One solution that may make sense in this space is the partnership between 6WIND and Advantech (News - Alert). These two are working together to deliver the 6WINDGate packet processing solution on the Advantech Packetarium product family line. This ideal partnership between hardware and software vendors could demonstrate how network processor providers can work with solution providers to meet the true demands of the industry.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Monda

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