Cave Creek could be used to replace chips such as Cavium Nitrox and Octeon, Netlogic XLP or Freescale QorIQ used as accelerators. OEMs already using the x86 as a control plane processor could find that switch a way to speed time to market and lower cost.
“There still will be plenty of room for other companies, but many chip vendors who had designs next to Intel processors will get squeezed out,” said Joe Byrne, senior analyst with market watcher the Linley Group (Mountain View, Calif.)
Cave Creek “has good prospects, but we don’t know the details of its performance or power consumption yet, and it definitely will need an assist chip at the high end,” said Byrne. “I think they are targeting the middle market,” he said.
Thanks to its strength in the control plane and in security appliances, Intel is currently the second largest supplier of comms processors next to Freescale, Byrne said.
Intel has had a mixed record in comms chips to date. It sold its network processor business to Netronome in 2007. Later, a security SoC called Tolapi “wasn’t very interesting,” said Steve Price, a marketing director in Intel’s comms infrastructure group.
The Crystal Forest pairing is a follow-on of the recent Jasper Forest platform that paired a Nehalem-class Xeon with a slightly modified server logic chip.
Jasper Forest was “extremely successful,” said Price. “We have dozens of customers and its strong in storage, telecom, edge routers,” he said.