Intel Corp. is turning to its mobile computing Pentium M platform to deliver the processing and design reuse capabilities the company believes will further enhance its communications IC effort.
Today Intel will announce availability of the first two Pentium M processors made for communications and networking applications--1.6 and 1.1GHz devices optimized for low voltage.
"This is where we think the market is headed," said Jonathan Luse, marketing manager for Intel's Embedded IA Division in Chandler, Ariz.
"Equipment manufacturers are looking for ways to increase their compute density as well as reduce cost through platform modularity and faster engineering," Luse said. "Compute-intensive applications, including firewalls, VPNs, and intrusion detection, can be addressed by this processor platform, which provides outstanding instruction execution per watt."
The Pentium M introductions are part of a "modular component" approach Intel is applying to communications ICs, he said. The effort will include related hardware and software, software development tools, and reusable application code.
End equipment targeted by the Pentium M processors include radio network controllers, media gateways, and wireless and other communications infrastructure.
The processor architecture achieves faster program execution for communications applications by using an optimized feature set that includes improved branch prediction, hardware execution of selected operations for lower overhead in switching between tasks, a shorter pipeline to allow instructions to be sent two at a time, and faster memory to support routing table look-ups, Luse said.
The new devices will be paired with Intel's existing E7501 server chipset for system-level validation and a development platform, he said.
"Over time you'll see us doing more and more of these combinations. We're going to pair up processors and chipsets that fit specific communications requirements, as well as develop new internal silicon."
Luse anticipates that third-party board products based on the Pentium M processors will be forthcoming this week. The devices are expected to be used on boards for server blades, CompactPCI, and Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture.
Both processors are now available. The 1.6GHz device is priced at $625 in quantities of 10,000, and the 1.1GHz processor is $257.