Broadcom Introduces Two New System-on-a-Chip (SoC) Processors at Interop

By Peter Bernstein May 07, 2013

Large trade shows are not a bad place to make big announcements, and historically the Interop show now going on in Las Vegas, has been the source of some important breakthroughs. Semiconductor solutions provider Broadcom made nice use of the venue to introduce not one, but two new System-on-a-Chip (SoC) processors:

  • StrataGX BCM58525 Series : Aimed at helping small-to-medium-sized business (SMBs) manage SMB cloud-based services such as video conferencing, collaboration and surveillance, while reducing overall system power consumption.
  • StrataGX BCM58522 Series: Designed to optimize 5G WiFi, the latest IEEE 802.11ac standard, by delivering 10x more processing power with advanced architectural features to enable a secure, application-aware unified wired and wireless enterprise network.

Both products run the dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processors and deliver two important capabilities, integration and low power consumption – which that the marketplace is in need of in light of the explosive growth in the cloud market as well as the need for enterprises to accommodate the growing preference by their end users for wireless broadband connectivity.

As the graphic below shows, the StrataGX BCM5852X Series give Broadcom a portfolio span that covers all of the important markets.

Source: Broadcom

Meeting SMB needs

It is no secret that rising demand for cloud-based services in SMB and enterprise networks combined with the requirement to deliver compact, low-power equipment is driving the need for higher efficiency control plane processors at the network edge and aggregation layer. This is where the action is, as much of the discussion at Interop highlights the move to the IP edge.

Broadcom notes that the StrataGX BCM58525 Series is ideal for demanding applications, like both streamed and interactive video, which are most efficiently delivered with much of the processing been done at the network edge, and where power and real estate is at a premium. The new processor, also provided advanced security features including:

  • IEEE MAC Security standard, also known as MACsec
  • Cryptographic engines
  • An additional embedded ARM coprocessor
  • Secure Boot to protect the network from external threats

"Our latest StrataGX Series provides the integration, efficiency and advanced security features necessary to meet current and future network control plane traffic demands," said Ed Redmond, Broadcom vice president and general manager, Compute and Connectivity. "By providing a companion device using the same core and software as the integrated processors in our StrataConnect™ and StrataXGS® devices, our customers can deliver higher performance, lower power solutions while leveraging existing investments."

Key benefits of the integrated StrataGX BCM58525 Series are:

  • The dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processors which deliver 20 percent higher performance
  • Integrated 10/100/1000M PHYs reduce bill of material cost and power
  • Programmable accelerator offloads CPU for packet handling tasks delivering line-rate performance
  • Integrated cryptographic accelerator provides 2 Gbps IPsec performance
  • Dedicated packet buffer subsystem increases aggregate processor speed by 20 percent or more1
  • Leverages common architecture with StrataConnect/StrataXGS enabling software re-use
  • Linux Development Kit (LDK) improves engineering productivity and reduces design complexity
  • Complete reference design including schematics, tools and software to enable faster time to market
  • Extends the control plane processor portfolio including the feature-rich high performance, 64-bit dual core, quad-threaded, quad-issue XLP-200 Series

There is a lot to digest on the list above. It starts with the high degree of integration, reduced cost, increase performance and common architecture of the entire product family. But, in terms of market requirements, it is the security and low power consumption that are going to resonate.

Broadcom says, the BCM58525 Series is now sampling with volume production slated for 4Q 2013. It is being offered with a complete reference design platform available immediately.

The 5G era is upon us

It may seem hard to believe considering that service providers around the world are in the process of rolling our their 4G wireless networks, but 5G is already on the near horizon and Broadcom is well –positioned to be an enabler. This is particularly true in the enterprise where the BYOD phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down - which means end user expectations are their enterprise wireless connections need to be as fast and secure, if not faster and more secure, than their wired ones. This is the sweet spot in the future market that the StrataGX BCM58522 Series addresses. . In fact, it is designed to provide a secure, application-aware unified wired and wireless enterprise network.

IT professionals are facing some harsh realities. As the number of connected devices and cloud-based applications soars, legacy networks are facing increased performance and capacity challenges that existing generation enterprise access points are not capable of handling. They are also facing the security challenges BYOD is fostering.

Broadcom cites the widely publicized security report by service provider NQ Mobile which found that malware attacks on mobile devices grew 163 percent in 2012. Broadcom says new capabilities in the Broadcom StrataGX Series address these challenges through a combination of integrated hardware cryptographic accelerators, virtual private network (VPN) support and sufficient control processing bandwidth to ensure high levels of performance.

"Our latest StrataGX Series continues the rapid expansion of the StrataGX portfolio with sophisticated new security features to protect networks from malware and other threats that continue to challenge the enterprise," said Redmond stated. "Broadcom is delivering a highly integrated, power-efficient processor to enable the rapid adoption of BYOD and demand for 5G WiFi in the enterprise."

The StrataGX BCM58522 Series delivers the following key benefits:

  • High-performance Wi-Fi for large venues such as stadiums, arenas and convention centers
  • Integrated dual-core ARM CPU, Ethernet switch, accelerator engines, high-speed I/O and memory interfaces meets power requirements and size constraints of EAPs — reducing power consumption up to 80 percent
  • Programmable packet and protocol accelerator enables high-performance offload of control and provisioning of wireless access points (CAPWAP) and generic routing encapsulation (GRE) tunneling
  • Low-power modes allow enterprise access points (EAPs) to be powered by IEEE 802.3af Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • Linux Development Kit (LDK), reference designs and standard open source software tools reduce engineering development and time-to-market
  • Pairing the StrataGX BCM58522 Series with Broadcom® 5G WiFi BCM43460 or BCM43520 devices delivers the performance required for mission-critical Wi-Fi access

As with its enterprise cousin, the emphasis here is again on integration, security and low power consumption. The fact that the low-power modes will allow the EAPs to be powered over Ethernet is another huge plus for the obvious reasons of having power availability along with not having to rewire for wireless. The backward compatibility with the popular StrataGX devices is also important.

The BCM58522 Series is now sampling with volume production slated for Q413. And, it too comes with a complete reference platform including the BCM58522 Series and Broadcom 5G WiFi devices which is available now.

In speaking with Ed Doe, associate product line director and Maury Wood, senior product line manager, Compute & Connectivity, they both emphasized not just the pullout benefits from above but also the value of having an architecture that is backward and forward compatible. As Wood stated, “It is important to our customers that we have given them the ability to not strand investment while at the same time getting a performance boost and a future ready family of products that are low-power and secure. There is tremendous value in having common software, a common architecture and a consistent way for doing crypto acceleration without performance degradation and have the ability to do flexible packet processing offload.”

It is sometimes difficult to make plumbing sexy. That said, Broadcom, by setting out the foundation for enhancing the IP edge and enabling 5G, certainly is something that is sure to catch the attention of the industry.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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