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Intel Enhances Network Processor Family
Date: Wednesday February 21, 2001
Category: CPU / Processors
Manufacturer Link: Intel
Intel has enhanced the Internet Exchange Architecture with more robust software tools and a faster network processor.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb. 20, 2001-- Intel Corporation has enhanced the Intel® Internet Exchange Architecture with more robust software tools and a faster network processor to handle the expanding responsibilities of equipment that processes Internet traffic.

In the second major enhancement to both the Intel® IXP1200 Network Processor line and associated software development tools in less than a year, Intel has introduced the Intel® Microengine C Compiler and a new software developer kit to streamline development of feature-rich networking equipment.

Intel also introduced a third version of the Intel IXP1200 Network Processor that features faster embedded processors and buses. In addition, the control store for each of the network processor's six microengines has been doubled to allow developers to add more complex features.

"Networking equipment today is being asked to do everything from performing advanced routing functions to juggling multiple protocols," said Pradip Shankar, general manager of the Intel Edge Processing Operation. "This requires that continuous advancements in software and silicon be in developers' hands, not on chip makers' drawing boards. These new products reflect our commitment to keeping enhancements to the Intel Internet Exchange Architecture moving routinely out of our door."

Enhanced Software Tools
The new Intel Microengine C Compiler, the first of Intel's new IXA Advanced Microengine Tools, enables programmers to enter simple high-level language commands for complex strings of code that are used frequently when writing programs for Intel IXP1200 Network Processor family. It gives equipment designers the option to use a subset of C programming language to speed up and simplify the design of networking equipment. The result is quicker development of prototype and production software, and the ability to reuse code with future generations of Intel network processors. Developers can use the Microengine C Compiler in conjunction with Intel IXP Symbolic Language to gain the benefits of both speed and optimized code.

"Network-equipment vendors are increasingly demanding compilers to accelerate network processor software development and prototyping," said Linley Gwennap, principal analyst of The Linley Group. "By combining the compiler with its current tools suite, Intel now offers the most complete and easiest-to-use set of software development tools in this market segment."

Intel also released the Intel® IXA Software Developers Kit Version 1.2 for the IXP1200 Network Processor, which includes a library of more than 100 optimized machine routines of commonly used programming instructions. The library includes routines for addressing, utilities, networking and input/output operations, among others, relieving developers of the task of writing code for common routines.

Faster, Tougher Silicon
To keep pace with the increased demands being placed on networking equipment to handle packets at ever-higher rates and accommodate more robust features, Intel has introduced a third member to its Intel IXP1200 Network Processor line with a core speed of 232 MHz, its fastest network processor to date. Other versions operate at 166 MHz and 200 MHz. Intel also boosted the speed of the external memory bus on the new processor from 100 MHz to 116 MHz and of the input/output bus from 85 MHz to 104 MHz, making the chip capable of handling faster applications. In addition, the on-chip control memory for each of the six microengines was doubled from previous versions of the network processor to 2,000 instruction words, providing increased capacity for equipment manufacturers to include additional value-added features.

Along with these advancements for the IXP1200 Network Processors, Intel also extended the operating capability of the 166-MHz version to meet the needs of equipment that will be placed in a wide range of uncontrolled environments. The 166-MHz IXP1200 Network Processor now can withstand temperatures ranging from minus 40 degrees to 85 degrees Celsius. The Intel Advanced Microengine Tools with the Intel IXA Microengine C Compiler will be available in the second quarter and licenses will cost $2,000 per seat. The Intel IXA SDK 1.2 and the 232-MHz Intel IXP1200 Network Processor are available now. The Intel IXA SDK 1.2 is free and the network processor is priced at $299 each in quantities of 10,000.

Intel® Internet Exchange Architecture Building Blocks
The Intel IXP1200 Network Processors are members of the Intel® Internet Exchange Architecture, an end-to-end family of high-performance, flexible and scalable hardware and software development building blocks designed to meet the growing performance requirements of today's networks. Based on programmable silicon and software building blocks, Intel® IXA solutions enable faster development, more cost-effective deployment and future upgradability of network and communications systems. The Intel IXP1200 Network Processors offer a complete hardware-and-software platform that combines extensive programmability with innovative, comprehensive development tools to accelerate the design of intelligent Internet networking and communications equipment. The first network processor in production with more than 100 design wins, the Intel IXP1200 Network Processor leads the industry while continually expanding its capabilities.

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