ARM与英特尔战线延伸到网络通信处理器市场

上网时间: 2012年10月23日? 作者:Rick Merritt? 我来评论 【字号: ? ?小】

关键字:ARM? 英特尔? 通信处理器?

ARM, Intel battle heats up on networking front

Rick Merritt

Both ARM and Intel are poised to grow market share in networking and communications systems at the expense of Freescale and Power-based chips.

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Another front is opening up in the architecture wars between ARM and Intel. Both see rising share in networking and communications systems where ARM is a relative newcomer and Intel is growing but not yet dominant.

That’s the conclusion of a keynote address from analyst Linley Gwennap principal of market watchers The Linley Group (Mountain View, Calif.) in his opening keynote at the Linley Tech Process Conference here.

“We still see Freescale doing very well, but they are losing a little bit of share and Intel is really flying up their tail pipes gaining momentum in networking and comms where a few years ago they weren’t very well positioned,” said Gwennap in an interview with EE Times.

Intel has gained sockets as a controller for a growing variety of comms systems, especially as its focus on mobile systems has driven its average CPUs down in power consumption from 60W to less than 30W, Gwennap said. Now the PC giant is making an assault on the so-called data plane, going up against specialized processors that handle packet processing.

With its Crystal Forest chip set, Intel recently started a new trend of pairing a standard Xeon server CPU with an integrated comms chip to compete with dedicated network processors in wired systems. “Using the same approach, they can create different companion chips for wireless base stations or other apps,” said Gwennap.

Competitors such as Cavium, EZChip, Freescale and LSI are counterattacking by putting more general purpose cores into their dedicated network processors. As a result, “systems designers are getting more options for addressing packet processing,” said Gwennap.

Meanwhile, many of Intel’s competitors are adopting ARM as a compliment to existing Power- or MIPS-based chips.

“ARM has a very powerful ecosystem, but its big problem in this space has been that its processors have been too wimpy,” said Gwennap. “We see the introduction of 64-bit ARM processors in the next year or two will open up some new doors for them,” he said.

Indeed, Applied Micro, Cavium, Freescale and LSI who have in the past supported only Power or MIPS cores are rolling out new lines based on ARM. Today almost half of shipping comms processors use Power cores. ARM trails Power, x86 and MIPS with a small sliver of the comms market, but that’s set to change.

Competitive landscape

“The Power architecture is going to be losing a lot of share to ARM in the next several years,” said Gwennap. “These companies all say they can support two architectures, but that gets expensive, so it will be interesting to see how long they can afford it,” he said.

“IBM tried for years to promote Power [in embedded systems] but they were never able to build a broad licensing program the way ARM has, and that’s finally coming home to roost,” Gwennap added.

Click on image to enlarge.

In cores, IBM's Power dominates in networking and comms, but Intel and ARM are on the rise. (Source: Linley Group)

Click on image to enlarge.

In chips, Freescale dominates in networking and comms, but will lose some share to Intel.

(Source: Linley Group)

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