Telecom infrastructure networks are experiencing dramatic increases in data traffic, largely driven by multimedia content from wireless and wired devices. This growth is challenging service providers to meet network performance demands while growing their average revenue per user. From the hardware perspective, the latest Intel Xeon® processors provide the efficient performance needed to deal with new demands while allowing network equipment manufacturers to consolidate application, control, and packet processing on the same platform for a more efficient solution.  Although traditional software solutions have not been optimized for network performance, telecom equipment providers must find new techniques to combine operating systems, networking software and multi-core silicon to address business and performance challenges in today’s highly competitive market.


Offering a software solution for network workload consolidation, Wind River recently announced a networking acceleration stack for Linux and VxWorks aimed at accelerating IP packet forwarding on carrier-grade telecommunications equipment. The Wind River Network Acceleration Platform manages processing operations over multiple cores to accelerate control and data plane activities and deliver multiple gigabit Ethernet wire-speed performance (See figure 1). By adopting the multi-core asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP) approach the Network Acceleration Platform enhances the standard Linux networking stack to support high-performance network acceleration capabilities exceeding what is possible using symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) mode alone. Offering 10 times the performance of standard Linux configurations, Wind River Network Acceleration Platform helps eliminate bottlenecks not only in moving packets through the silicon itself, but throughout the entire networking platform. The latest release expands hardware support for the Intel Xeon next-generation multicore processors and allows network performance to scale efficiently with the number of cores in a processor. In addition, Wind River is providing Network Acceleration developers with multi-core enabled development, testing, debugging, and simulation tools required to simulate and test systems in complex multi-core environments.




Extending packet processing performance, Intel recently announced its 32nm-fabricated Xeon® 5600 processors as the next generation upgrade to the Xeon® 5500 family. In addition to several enterprise-class versions of the Xeon® 5600, Intel introduced four models with seven-year lifecycle support for embedded applications. The 2.4GHz, 80 Watt Xeon® E5645 and the 2.0GHz, 60 Watt Xeon® L5638 each provide six cores and 12 threads. There are two quad-core embedded versions including the 4GHz, 80 Watt Xeon® E5620 and the 1.86GHz, 40 Watt Xeon® L5618. The Intel Xeon® processor 5600 series includes Intel® AES New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI), improving performance for disk and database encryption plus secure Internet transactions. The processors also feature Intel® Virtualization Technology for flexible virtualization, Intel® QuickPath Technology to maximize multi-core performance, plus Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology to deliver top performance for bandwidth-intensive applications.


6WINDGate from 6WIND is another software solution that provides packet processing optimization for networking equipment, wireless infrastructure, security appliances and data centers (See figure 2). The software provides up to ten times the packet processing performance of a standard networking stack and significantly improves the price-performance and power-performance ratios of networking equipment. 6WINDGate is compatible with standard operating system APIs to ensure that clients can migrate either from a single-core to a multi-core platform, or from one multi-core platform to another, without needing to rewrite their existing software.  On a dual-core Intel® Xeon® processor E5645 platform with a clock speed of 3.33GHz, 6WINDGate delivers over 16 million packets per second, per core of IP forwarding performance, thereby forwarding 10Gbps of network traffic in each core. This performance scales linearly with the number of cores configured to run 6WINDGate until the maximum bandwidth of the hardware platform is reached. Processor cores not used to run 6WINDGate are available to run value-added application software or Virtual Machines (VMs), resulting in an efficient and flexible system for advanced networking equipment.




Providing off-the-shelf hardware to support the transition to integrated network workloads, Emerson Network Power recently introduced a new AdvancedTCA server blade featuring a six-core processor from the Intel® Xeon® processor 5600 series to deliver optimized virtualization and power management. The dual-processor ATCA-7365 is the company’s highest-performance 10Gbps ATCA server blade to date and supports up to 96GB DDR3 memory (See figure 3).  Designed to enable network and service providers to lower their capital and operating expenses, the off-the-shelf ATCA-7365 supports a broad array of communications applications that require high network throughput such as telecom. The ATCA-7365 is available with a variety of rear transition module (RTM) variants to support different I/O configurations and can be configured with a variety of software offerings including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4, Wind River Platform for Network Equipment Linux Edition 3.0 and Microsoft Windows Server 2008.




With new software solutions to complement the latest Xeon processors, telecom equipment system providers have fresh options to consolidate processing workloads and improve network infrastructure performance. You can find more information and technical articles on Intel network acceleration architecture at the Intel® Embedded Community page on Xeon processors.  If you are starting a new telecom or packet acceleration project with and you have questions, please share your concerns with fellow followers of the Intel® Embedded Community. You can also keep up with the latest technical details and product announcements at the Embedded Computing Design archives on Multi-core Packet Acceleration.


To view other community content on workload consolidation, see “Workload Consolidation - Top Picks


Warren Webb
OpenSystems Media®, by special arrangement with Intel® Embedded Alliance


Emerson Network Power is a Premier member of the by Intel® Embedded Alliance. Wind River Systems is an Associate member and 6WIND is an Affiliate member of the Alliance.