Tilera Unveils Many-Core Chips for Networking Applications

Tilera officials, who are pushing the design of their processors to as many as 200 cores, will talk about a new series of chips aimed at networking applications at Interop 2011.

Tilera, which is developing a range of many-core processors that officials say will rapidly scale up to as many as 200 cores, is starting to outline its multimarket approach.

At the Interop 2011 show this week in Las Vegas, Tilera officials are unveiling their Tile-GX 8000 series of chips designed specifically for networking applications that demand high bandwidth and throughput, such as instruction detection and prevention, unified threat management, virtual private networks, WAN optimization and networking monitoring.

The networking-focused Tile-GX 8000 series is the first set of announcements Tilera is expecting to make this quarter detailing its intent on creating many-core processors for three particular markets: networking; multimedia, for such applications as video conferencing and media streaming; and servers for such tasks as database and Web applications.

"The chips are coming," Bob Doud, director of marketing at Tilera, said in an interview with eWEEK. "The needs of the different types of markets is not the same."

In the case of the new chips, the networking space demands a lot of I/O, high throughput and a dense form-factor, according to Tilera officials. The Tile-GX 8000 chips includes a rich set of I/O ports, packet processing and network acceleration features. They include the on-chip MICA (Multistream iMesh Crypto Accelerator) for up to 80 gigabits-per-second encryption and 20G bps compression processing. MICA is coupled with Tilera's iMesh interconnect technology, which helps with low latency and wire-speed small packet throughput. Also included is mPIPE (multicore Programmable Intelligent Packet Engine) system for wire-speed package classification, load balancing and buffer management for up to 80G bps and 120 million packets-per-second of throughput.

As with all of Tilera's chip plans, the Tile-GX 8000 series will offer processors with 16, 36, 64 and 100 cores. The 36-core model will begin sampling in July, and the 16-core model in August. The 64- and 100-core models will come later this year.

The processors also feature 64-bit cores with a virtual memory system and up to four integrated 72-bit DDR3 memory controllers that support up to 1 terabyte total capacity.

Details of two other Tile-GX series of chips will come out later this month. The other series are the Tile-Gx 5000 series for multimedia applications and the Tile-Gx 3000 series or cloud server applications.

Tilera's Doud said company officials are going to be vocal about their products and roadmaps as a way of letting the industry and potential customers see what is being planned for the future.

"The roadmap is very important," Doud said. "It's not only, -What do you have for me today?', but -What will you have for me tomorrow?'"

Tilera is one of a number of chip makers looking to take on Intel and Advanced Micro Devices with low-power, energy-efficient, many-core non-x86 processors aimed at servers in such areas as cloud computing and highly virtualized environments. For example, ARM Holdings, whose designs are used by such chip makers as Samsung, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments for use in such mobile devices as smartphones and tablets, is looking to move into the data center.

Doud said Tilera is seeing increasing interest from systems makers, and last year announced that Qanta in June 2010 started shipping its SQ2 server powered by Tilera's TilePro64 processor. In addition, SGI officials last year said they will use Tilera processors in their Prism XL-code-named Project Mojo-hybrid systems that also will use graphics technologies from AMD and Nvidia.

In January, Tilera officials announced that it raised $45 million in a fourth round of funding, bringing the total investment in the six-year-old company to $109 million. They said they will use the money generated by the latest round for more sales and marketing efforts and more design work as the company looks to move beyond 100-core chips to the fourth generation of its processors, a 225-core chip code-named "Stratton," which is expected to appear in systems in 2013.