The new CPU core, based on the ARMv8-A architectural license, would be the basis for a multicore processor that would succeed the MIPS-based XLP900. The design includes the ability to virtualize the processor — in other words, to create logical mini-CPUs inside it and build separate paths through the chip for different traffic flows.
ARM Shows Muscle in Embedded
It’s quite a coup for ARM, which has been gradually winning over Broadcom, one product segment at a time, starting with smaller game such as Android phone chips and set-top boxes. Now the networking business unit is adopting ARM, for a “clean sweep” of Broadcom’s major units, says Linley Gwennap, principal analyst for The Linley Group.
Broadcom had been using the MIPS architecture, which seems to be losing out in the latest embedded-processor wave. All the major vendors — except for Intel, which kind of has an instruction set of its own — have moved to ARM, including AppliedMicro, Cavium, Freescale, and LSI. Broadcom had been the last MIPS holdout.
“Both PowerPC and MIPS have been struggling in terms of maintaining their ecosystems — software development tools and other kinds of software infrastructure — and ARM has a lot of momentum coming out of the mobile space,” Gwennap says. “Those guys haven’t found new markets, and ARM is taking the oxygen out of the room.”
What ARM didn’t have, though, was a 64-bit architecture for handling larger, complex computing jobs. “As soon as ARM announced their 64-bit extensions, pretty much everybody just jumped on it,” Gwennap says.