3.5 Hardware Solutions for Data, Control and Management Planes Processing

Many conferences, seminars and publications have covered and will cover the debate about the best core processing element for telecommunication equipment. One group of vendors claims that telecom and data centres are converging and the trend will affect the core processing element, which is the server-oriented general purpose CPU in the current data center infrastructure. It is true that these CPUs are designed for server applications, frequently they are high-power devices requiring high-tech cooling solutions, their I/O integration is very limited; in many cases they are not a single-chip solution with a greater need for real estate and, again, more power. It is also true that these architectures include components which are not very useful for many dataplane processing telecommunication applications, such as graphic units, high performance floating point engines, 64-bit instructions (some telecommunication applications do benefit from 64-bit ISA and the floating point), long pipelines and more. On the other hand, their volumes are huge, bringing a low price; they have integrated sophisticated virtualization hardware; performance increases with every new generation and the rate of that increase is still very high. Lack of good I/O, especially streaming interfaces, can be solved by using external Network Interface Cards (NICs) with advanced pre-processing capabilities, including packet classification, TCP ...

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