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Freescale Unveils ARM-Based Communications Chips

The company's QorIQ LS1 processors are designed to address the rising demand for network bandwidth and the developing Internet of things.

Freescale Semiconductor officials say they leveraging ARM's architecture to bring the efficiency and performance of smartphones into enterprise networks.

The chip maker on Oct. 16 unveiled its new ARM-based QorIQ LS1 lineup of communications processors to address the growing demand for network bandwidth brought on by the rise in the number of smart connected devices, according to Tareq Bustami, vice president and general manager of product management for Freescale's Digital Networking Group.

The QorIQ LS1 chips also are designed for the fast-growing area of the Internet of things, which also is ramping up the need for networks to be able to scale, Bustami told eWEEK. The demand in the market is for high-performance solutions that can be used in fanless designs that run under 3 watts, he said. The new chips are designed for such offerings.

ARM's low-power system-on-a-chip (SoC) designs are found in most smartphones and tablets on the market. Company officials now see an opportunity to move their designs into the data center, where there is a growing demand for high-performing, low-power silicon products. However, the company is still working to get its designs enterprise-ready. Freescale is leveraging ARM's low-power Cortex-A7 cores, which are typically found in smartphones, and enhancing them with capabilities needed in data center networks, such as error-correcting code (ECC) memory, virtualization support and a strong security engine.

In addition, the QorIQ LS1 chips include a number of peripherals and features designed for fanless embedded applications, including an LCD controller, support for both DDR3L and DDR4 memory, and SATA3 and USB 3.0 with integrated PHY, the company said.

Nick Sargologos, senior product manager for Freescale's Digital Networking Group, told eWEEK that the combination of ARM's architecture and the enterprise features and software support helps create "a single chip [that's like] a Swiss army knife that is well suited for the Internet of things."

The QorIQ LS1 lineup includes three chips, all of which are software- and pin-compatible. The QorIQ LS1020A is aimed at fanless enterprise and consumer networking applications, such as access points, multiprotocol Internet of things gateways and security appliances. The LS1021A includes the integrated display controller and industrial interfaces for use with such applications as factory and building automation, printing and machine-to-machine communications.

The LS1022A brings higher performance for a range of industrial applications that also demand small power envelopes.