LONDON – Fabless network processor company Netronome Systems Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) has announced that its next generation of dataflow processors will be manufactured on Intel's 22-nm FinFET process thereby extending a strategic relationship with Intel that began in 2007.
Netronome is the latest in a series of companies that have signed up to gain access to Intel chip manufacturing technology. Others include fabless FPGA vendors Achronix Semiconductor Corp. and Tabula Inc. Intel uses the term tri-gate to describe its version of FinFET where the transistor is built in a upright fin of silicon with the gate structure wrapped around on three sides.
Netronome’s flow processors (NFP) are used for networking, security and content processing applications at data rates of up to 100-Gbps. Netronome's flow processors are designed for tight coupling with Intel Architecture (IA) processors and the current generation began with a technology licensing agreement signed with Intel in November 2007, reaching volume-shipments in 2011. The next generation, based on intel's 22-nm process and is due to sample in 2013.
Netronome said that its access to the Intel process would allow it to shatter benchmarks for flow processor performance, power and cost in network and security applications.
Access to the Intel foundry services includes a joint development and manufacturing engagement model that includes access to Intel EDA tools and proprietary modeling capabilities, Netronome said. Intel aids foundry users with design-for-manufacturing, design-for-test and design-for-reliability and with packaging, assembly and test procedures, the company added.
In addition, Intel's foundry service provides risk mitigation because multiple wafer fabs can produce ICs ensuring Netronome has an uninterrupted supply of chips.
"Intel’s 3-D tri-gate transistor technology and 22-nm manufacturing process provides significant benefits over legacy planar designs. As a result, our next generation flow processors will be several generations ahead of other communications processors, allowing Netronome to deliver up to 10-times the performance with more than triple the energy efficiency," said Jim Finnegan, senior vice president of engineering at Netronome, in a statement.
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