The view from within the electronics industry – individual comment pieces from people working in the technology sector.

Market needs more smart silicon, says LSI executive

Data network managers are realising they need to find smarter ways to improve performance, but the addition of more hardware such as servers, switches and processor cores is unsustainable, writes Troy Bailey, director of marketing, LSI

The number of devices connected to the internet has continued to grow at an exponential rate. 

Smart phones, tablet PCs, smart TVs and e-readers are now widely used to access cloud-based services, resulting in huge growth in the amount of data crossing mobile networks.  Mobile and datacentre networks are struggling to keep pace.

Making a call at peak times in major cities can be frustrating, with call drop-outs and data downloads slowing to a crawl.  To cope with the growth, network managers are now beginning to realise they need to find smarter ways to improve performance. 

The addition of more and more hardware such as servers, switches and processor cores is unsustainable with increased hardware costs, lack of floor space and power. It also doesn’t address the network latency problems.

My personal product highlights for 2012 are smart silicon devices which provide a solution to the struggling networks. Devices like these released over the last 12 months typically feature multiple cores of general-purpose processors complemented by multiple acceleration engines for common networking functions, such as packet classification, deep packet inspection, security processing and traffic management. 

Some of these acceleration engines are powerful enough to completely offload specialized packet processing tasks from general-purpose processors, making it possible to perform switching, routing and other networking functions entirely in fast path accelerators to vastly improve overall network performance. 

Offloading compute-intensive workloads to acceleration engines that are optimized for a particular workload can also deliver a significant performance-per-watt advantage over purely general-purpose processors.

Customized smart silicon can be a great option for a network equipment vendor wanting to carve out a unique competitive advantage by integrating its own optimisations.

Tomorrow’s mobile and datacentre networks will need to be both faster and flatter, and therefore, smarter than ever. 

Smart silicon is at the heart of the solution to make our connected work and home devices run as we hoped they would do when we left the store. 

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