Freescale, Broadcom Offer SDN Solutions for Chips

The vendors are looking to make it easier for system makers and end users to deploy OpenFlow-based SDN solutions on their silicon.

Freescale Semiconductor and Broadcom are unveiling new software and interfaces designed to make it easier for organizations to make the move to software-defined networks.

The two companies announced their respective offerings March 3 on the first day of the Open Networking Summit 2014 in Santa Clara, Calif. The products look to enable businesses to leverage the vendors' silicon and software and the latest OpenFlow protocols to adopt software-defined networking (SDN) to make their infrastructures more programmable and flexible.

SDN and close relative network-function virtualization (NFV) promise to create networks that are more dynamic, automated and cost-effective by moving network intelligence and services from complex and expensive physical switches and routers and putting them into software that runs atop the underlying hardware.

Chip makers like Freescale, Broadcom and Intel are bringing interface and software capabilities to their silicon to enable system makers and end users to leverage the chips in their SDN efforts. Freescale is rolling out its VortiQa SDN solutions, which include the VortiQa open network director and switch software that is optimized to run on the company's QorlQ multicore communications chips.

The solution also includes data plane software that is preintegrated with commercial-grade OpenFlow to help system makers develop solutions for SDN environments. It gives the OEMs and original design manufacturers (ODMs) the building blocks they need to create such networking gear as routers and gateways that run on Freescale technology and are compatible with OpenFlow 1.3 and can fit into SDN infrastructures.

There also is an embedded SDN controller implemented in C language that is aimed at embedded systems, according to Freescale officials.

The VortiQa offering is only the latest effort by Freescale in the burgeoning SDN space, according to Michael O’Donnell, director of software business development at Freescale.

"Freescale has been engaged on SDN since early days, tracking the market trend and technical evolution," O'Donnell said in an email to eWEEK. "The announcement [at the Open Networking Summit] amplifies Freescale's activities to date and introduces a commercial software platform to exercise SDN on existing QorIQ silicon platforms and readies the market for the SDN-optimized [Freescale] Layerscape platform."

Freescale previously had offered proof-of-concept software for the control and data planes, and proved interoperability with other networking vendor solutions that support OpenFlow, he said. The company also has been an active member of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). Freescale will demonstrate its QorlQ communications processors using the VortiQa SDN solutions at the show this week.

The VortiQa open network director and switch software will be available this month.

For its part, Broadcom is unveiling the OpenFlow Data Plane Abstraction (OF-DPA) v1.0 specification, software and API for the ONF's OpenFlow 1.3.1 switch. The SDN interface is an implementation of the OpenFlow 1.3.1 protocol that is optimized for Broadcom's StrataXGS Ethernet switch offerings. OEMs and ODMs can use the OF-DPA software and API capabilities to build networking systems that leverage Broadcom's StrataXGS silicon, according to company officials.