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EZchip unveils 200G chip to compete with Broadcom, Intel

25 Feb 2015  | Rick Merritt

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The Tile-Mx100, EZchip's new 200Gbit/s network processor, will try to compete with the likes of Broadcom, Cavium and Intel. The Tile-Mx100 will be packing a hundred 64bit ARMv8 cores using the 28nm process and will start production in 2017.

The chip is based on the Tile-Gx multi-core architecture EZchip acquired in July from Tilera. Besides moving Tile-Gx from a proprietary to an ARM core, the new generation adopts some key blocks from EZchip such as a traffic manager it hopes helps it stand apart from its larger competitors.

"We are one of the later arrivals to the ARM party, but we hope to make a dazzling entry with unique performance and features," said Bob Doud, director of marketing at EZchip.

"No one else we know of has announced a 100-core ARM v8 processor, so it will be one of the most powerful networking processors out there," said Tom Halfhill, senior analyst with market watcher The Linley Group.

The Tile-Mx100 packages four A53 cores on 25 tiles.

The Tile-Gx already tops the CoreMark benchmark list at 231CoreMarks/MHz in part because in tests it ran 71 threads across 71 cores, said Markus Levy, president of EMBC, the consortium that produces the benchmark.

Cavium will deliver later this year its ThunderX, a 48-core chip using a single-threaded 64bit ARM core. Broadcom is designing a competing 16nm chip based on multi-threaded superscalar ARM cores expected to be in production next year. Its existing XLP980 chip using 20 MIPS cores is already a heady competitor because its quad-threaded architecture enables it to handle many packet flows.

"EZchip will have to deliver on time and hope its architectural advantages will make up for not being on the latest process technologies—using a 20nm or 16nm node would have pushed the project back even further," said Tom Halfhill, senior analyst with The Linley Group. "EZchip is announcing two years ahead of time to keep customers from committing to Broadcom and Cavium," he added.

Doud expects the next-generation Broadcom chip will be "massively multi-threaded" and try to go "head-to-head" with Intel's Xeon for some design wins. By contrast one of EZchip's targets is as a comms accelerator riding shotgun to Xeon chips in servers.

EZchip's traffic manager

The Tile-Mx100 uses EZchip's traffic manager and several other cores.

Tilera was a fair ways down the road to working on its first ARM-based chip when EZchip acquired the company. For its first chip in 2005, it chose to develop a proprietary 32bit core for its unique multi-core mesh fabric developed at MIT because "merchant cores were too big or power hungry," said Doud.

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