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June 11, 2010

Netronome's Proch Touts Advantages of Specialized Processing Cores

(Editor's Note: This article refers to a video interview shot at Interop 2010. To view TMCnet's entire library of videos from Interop and other industry shows, demonstrations and interviews in our in-house studio, visit our Video News home page.)


At the Interop 2010 show in Las Vegas, TMC's CEO Rich Tehrani had a chance to interview Netronome's Daniel Proch, Director of Product Management. "We're a small startup, of about a hundred people," he said, developing a line of programmable semiconductor products for network flow processing." They're used in devices that need intelligent flow processing, "unlike what you would consider a general-purpose CPU."

The intellectual property the company maintains is the NFP 3240, a security-optimized microprocessor: "It legitimately is a 40 gigabyte-per-second NPU," he said. "From that line of NPU products, we also build a family of acceleration cards based on the network flow processor," as well as full systems that scale up to 100 gigabytes per second.

When asked how their technology differs from some of the others on the market, Proch reiterated that "We're not a general purpose processing core. The device is heavily optimized around packet processing, flow processing, as well as security, with cryptography, and PKI. So you wouldn't use it as a general purpose processor."

That said, however, Proch noted that "unlike a lot of other processor companies out there, we believe that there is a place for those general purpose processors out there. They are well-suited for certain tasks. But not network and security processing, though."

The architecture that Netronome promotes, Proch said, is called a heterogeneous multicore processing architecture. "So the paradigm is such that you couple X-86 general purpose processing cores, that are the best in the market - you're not going to beat Intel for price, performance, continuity of supply and innovation. But there are certain bits of functionality that could be best done on another specialized processing core."

View the full video interview below (Apple users click here):

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David's articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Patrick Barnard


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