SAN JOSE, Calif. Ė NetLogic Microsystems has formally announced a four-chip module for high-end networking systems. The XLP8128S links four of the company's quad-threaded, eight-core XLP832 network processors on its proprietary Inter-chip Coherency Interface.
NetLogic will use the chip to leapfrog competitors such as Cavium Networks which is rolling out a single-chip version of its Octeon processor with 32 physical cores.
"We believe the top-end members of the XLP and Octeon-32 families will offer similar performance, regardless of difference in raw physical core counts," said Joseph Byrne, a senior analyst with market watcher the Linley Group (Mountain View, Calif.), referring to the single-chip implementations from both companies.
Performance of network processors depends heavily on system design and applications which vary greatly, Byrne said. NetLogic will clearly have a performance advantage with the four-chip module, but "the problem is you will also get four times the power consumption," he said.
Based on simulations, NetLogic claims performance on its four-chip module scales about 3.5 times from that of a single chip. The company has yet to get first silicon on its 40nm chip design from TSMC, but expects it will still be able to sample the chips in the fall.
The company will not sell pre-made modules, but will provide design support including schematics and possibly Gerber files.
"It's very, very difficult to get this kind of cache coherency where a core on one chip can talk to an accelerator on another so we needed some time to make sure we could do this," said Ron Jankov, chief executive of NetLogic, explaining the month's delay between announcing the chip and the module.
The four-chip module supports up to 128 threads and 160 programmable accelerator cores. It can handle 240 million packets a second, processing the packets in data flows up to 160 Gbits/second, NetLogic claimed.