Freescale officials showed off how the semiconductor company is extending its reach with new offerings that cover the burgeoning worlds of software-defined networking, edge computing and the Internet of things.
The company on Oct. 21 introduced its new quad-core QorIQ LS1043A communications processor, an ARM-based 64-bit system-on-a-chip (SoC) that is designed to bring a high level of performance and energy efficiency that is needed as enterprises and service providers leverage virtual networks to put more technologies at the edge of the network, in such areas as branch offices, retail stores and residences.
On the same day, Freescale rolled out a hardware and software development platform—dubbed SABRE (Smart Application Blueprint for Rapid Engineering) for Auto Infotainment—that leverages the company’s application processor and networking capabilities to enable greater Ethernet connectivity in cars, a key focus of Internet of things (IoT) technologies.
The company put the SABRE on display at both the SAE Convergence Conference and Expo Oct. 21 and 22 and the IEEE-SA Ethernet and IP @ Automotive Technology Day Oct. 23 and 24.
With the QorIQ LS1043A chip, Freescale is aiming to leverage the ARM architecture to offer businesses and service providers the performance and power efficiency they need to bring greater capabilities to the edge of the network and manage the shift to software-defined networks (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV).
Both SDN and NFV are being used to create more dynamic, automated and programmable networks by removing the network control plane and networking tasks—including firewalls, load balancing and intrusion detection—from expensive and complex networking gear and putting them into software, where they can run atop commodity hardware.
Such networks can better address the rapidly changing demands on networks brought by such trends as mobile computing, big data and the cloud. As more devices and systems—from smartphones and tablets to those that will make up the growing IoT—connect to networks and the Internet, enterprises are moving data center technologies closer to those devices at the edge of the network to address issues around latency and costs related to network traffic.
At the same time, service providers are reducing the number of on-premises gateways they’re using to deliver services in favor of virtual CPE (vCPE) systems that can take advantage of the growing maturity of cloud orchestration and NFV technologies and help reduce capital and operating expenses, according to Freescale officials.
With computing capabilities moving to the edge of the networks, platforms need more intelligence to determine which data and applications get sent back to the central cloud infrastructure and which can be processed locally. Edge platforms also must support high levels of security and virtualization. Freescale’s new communications processor is designed to deliver the necessary intelligence, security, performance and integration, officials said.
A key component is the company’s use of the ARM architecture, according to Nicoly Guenov, director of product management at Freescale.
“The network needs an open ecosystem, which means ARM,” Guenov told eWEEK. “We have ARM.”
Freescale Unveils New Products for SDN, NFV, IoT
ARM officials see the architecture’s support of open software and applications as a major equalizer in the company’s expanding competition against Intel. For example, the Linaro Group—of which Freescale is a member—is a consortium aimed at developing open-source software for the ARM architecture.
Freescale’s QorIQ LS1043A is a fanless SoC with a frequency of 1.5 GHz and a power consumption as low as 6 watts, both key metrics for such edge networking equipment as branch routers, security appliances and SDN and NFV platforms, according to officials. It includes advanced virtualization hardware, leverages Freescale’s trust architecture for flexible and secure cloud application updates, and through classification and load-balancing capabilities, can offload latency-sensitive applications for optimized local performance.
There’s also a broad range of high-speed I/O, including 10 Gigabit Ethernet plus 5x 1GbE, 3x PCI Express, 3x USB 3.0 with PHYs and SATA 3.0. The chip also includes Freescale’s multi-protocol QUICC Engine module for integrated support of legacy wide-area and industrial interfaces.
Freescale will begin sampling the QorIQ LS1043A chip in the first quarter of 2015.
With the SABRE development system, cars can now more easily include automotive-grade Ethernet connectivity for everything from infotainment and instrument cluster to camera telematics and rear-seat entertainment. It will enable the real-time transportation of data around the car.
It leverages Freescale’s i.MX 6 series application processors to accelerate and simplify the deployment of Ethernet Audio Video Bridging (AVB) to help connect a range of onboard multimedia nodes using the Ethernet components. Freescale also offers automotive-grade AVB Ethernet software stacks that will work with the development system’s hardware, officials said.
“The newest SABRE AI development system brings Freescale’s extensive networking expertise into the vehicle, delivering Ethernet AVB solutions that connect cars to their drivers, the cloud and the rest of the Internet of things,” Dan Loop, automotive business development manager at Freescale, said in a statement. “In the Internet of things era, infortainment’s primary role is to intelligently connect the car and all of its subsystems to the driver’s world, enriching the driving experience and enhancing the safety of the vehicle.”
The development system is sampling now, with broad availability planned for the first quarter of next year.