Broadcom Secures WiFi with New Silicon

Broadcom debuts new embedded ARM processors with Linux for secure WiFi at full-line rate speeds.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted May 7, 2013
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LAS VEGAS - Broadcom chips sit inside many vendors' WiFi access solutions. Today, the vendor announced a new generation of silicon that will enable an era of secure WiFi at full-line rate speeds.

Broadcom's new StrataGX BCM58522 Series is an ARM-based System on Chip (SoC) that hardware vendors can embed in access point solutions.

Maury Wood, senior product manager of Broadcom’s Infrastructure and Networking Group, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that the BCM58522 series includes a new crypto engine.

"The crypto engine accelerates the underlying encryption and decryption that are required for IPsec VPNs and SSL," Wood said.

Wood stressed that that addition of on-chip cryptography will deliver major increases in bandwidth and performance for wireless networks using the BCM58522 chip.

Most existing WLAN access points suffer a significant performance hit when a user comes in over a VPN tunnel as encryption overhead kicks in. The goal with the BCM58522 is to eliminate that bottleneck.

Broadcom has the chip specified at 2 Gbps of full-duplex bandwidth, "so there is plenty of bandwidth at line rate," according to Wood.

Wood noted that many cryptography standards today have long been more wire-oriented, resulting in a negative impact on wireless performance. The Broadcom crypto engine offers hardware vendors the ability to provide encryption all the way through from wired to wireless network.

"There is no bottleneck. We have eliminated that completely, so it's full-line rate, with no impact from the crypto whatsoever," Wood said. "You will not see a drop in performance when you enable your VPN over WiFi."

Linux

For hardware vendors building solutions with the BCM58522, Linux will be the primary operating system.

Broadcom has a Linux Development Kit (LDK) for hardware vendors to get a full solution up and running. In terms of which Linux distribution Broadcom will use, Wood noted that it's just plain vanilla Linux, not from a commercial Linux distributor.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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