Rapidly growing data traffic is being driven by the increasing use of network intensive applications including Internet access, cloud services and video/TV on demand. The forecast published by Cisco in June 2014 shows global IP traffic growing by an average 21 percent per year to reach almost 1.6 zettabytes by 2018. To meet these requirements, service providers need networking systems with much greater packet processing capabilities and support for multiple 100Gbit/s interfaces.
Multicore processors are required for most high-performance networking systems, handling packet processing from less than 1 Gbit/s up to more than 100 Gbit/s. Telecom equipment manufacturers are already developing systems with network processors that can handle up to 400 Gbit/s. For lower-speed systems, equipment manufacturers can choose from a range of different solutions, including integrated multicore processors, network processors, general-purpose processors and communications processors.
Equipment Vendors Rate Multicore Processors & Suppliers analyzes the current and projected use of multicore processors by telecom and networking equipment manufacturers, based on the results of an exclusive worldwide survey of engineers, designers, product managers and sales/marketing personnel that work for telecom and networking system equipment manufacturers and suppliers. The responses to our survey make it clear that these devices are critical components in most types of networking equipment, from the access edge to the core of the network.
The report charts the use of specific integrated multicore processors, network processors, general-purpose processors and communications processors and how respondents rate each supplier on the overall quality of their products. Respondents were also asked if they used field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) or application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) for packet processing and what performance and features would be required for future multicore processors. The report includes information from previous surveys in 2006, 2010 and 2013, providing valuable trend data.
Key requirements for the next generation of multicore processors for networking applications will be further integration, performance increases and greater support for line speed data plane implementations using open source software. We will see more multicore processors with 100Gbit/s interfaces and enhanced accelerators. Application programming interfaces (APIs) for the networking data plane are a key building block for line speed open source software implementations. The OpenDataPlane project will support ARMv8 and other architecture multicore processors. The Intel Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) is also being supported by other multicore processors. These developments will make it much easier for equipment manufacturers to select multicore processors for specific systems and not be tied to particular processor suppliers or processor architectures.