Intel Tweaks Chips for VoIP Revolution

Intel introduced two families of XScale
processors it said will help carriers speed up their Voice and Video
over IP deployments.

The network processor units (NPUs) introduced this week are expected
to find their way to DSLAMs , wireless access switches and
enterprise router line cards for traditional communications applications
and for the emerging embedded networking segment.

The chipmaking giant is striking before the iron gets really hot.
Jupiter Research forecasts that VoIP telephony
services will grow to about 400,000 U.S.
households by the end of 2004, and to 12.1 million households by 2009,
which represent about 10 percent of all U.S. households. (JupiterResearch
and internetnews.com are owned by the same parent company.)

Intel said its new
IXP2325 and IXP2350 network chips can help combine data-plane and control-plane
processing capabilities in a single chip and are
the company’s first network processors built on 90 nanometer process technology.

The NPUs run up to 2 Gbps line rates and use the same hardware and
software architecture as the rest of the IXP2XXX product line.

“It is interesting that Intel is releasing the chips in 90nm,” Kevin
Krewell, principal analyst for In-Stat/MDR told internetnews.com.
“Intel has in the past reserved its leading edge process for its x86
processors. It seems Intel has enough 90nm capacity to now use it in its
embedded processors line.”

But that is just the kind of thinking that Intel network processor
business manager Terry West wants the competition to fear, especially
with the migration in North America to 3G networks and the rush toward
VoIP.

“We have VoIP happening at breakneck speed, and once we figure out
that issue, video is right behind it,” West told
internetnews.com. “Intel has been this big proponent of open
standard and module architectures. Most of the equipment in the past has
been proprietary design. People sometimes accuse us of being some type
of Darth Vader and trying to commoditize the industry. But shifting to
programmable chips instead of ASICs means that you can have more boards.
The downturn in the telecom industry accelerated that change. Now we are
seeing ATCA [Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture] standardized
chassis

Intel said it has more than a dozen companies like Samsung and HP
taking the off-the-shelf boards based on the IXP23XX
family, and offering it up to telcos and carriers.

On the lower end of the spectrum, Intel released its IXP460 and
IXP465 network processors to augment their current 16 or so SKUs. The
latest additions include features like built-in Ethernet, USB and
real-time synchronization. Rockwell Automation said it would use the
chips in its next generation of network automation equipment. HP is
also planning to use the IXP46X in a future line of high-end printers.

Intel and members of the Intel Communications Alliance also debuted
development tools, hardware platforms, software building blocks, and
application-specific software solutions to support the IXP23XX and
IXP46X product lines.

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