Intel scales Atom to 16 cores, updates Xeon SoCs

The 5G internet of virtualized networked things is calling and Chipzilla wants to be ready

A wafer full of Intel's C3000 Atoms
A wafer-load of the Atom C3000

Intel's tossed out a batch of new products ahead of Mobile World Congress, all of them handy for internet of things applications operating on very fast wireless networks.

Among them is a new generation of "Denverton" Atom processors. The new C3000 family now offer between two and 16 cores, with clock speeds up to a swift 2.2 Ghz while sipping as little as 8.5 watts. There's four 10GB ethernet connections on offer and a promised ceiling of 20 Gbps of compression/encryption throughput.

Chipzilla's VT-d virtualization and isolation technology has made it to the new Atoms, meaning that it's possible to partition the chip and restrict I/O through certain partitions. This is how Intel plans to do things like get into cars: multiple VMs can use the same physical kit, but with lots of lovely isolation so that the entertainment system can't own the self-driving software. The new silicon is also designed to power devices on the network edge, where they'll be expected to run virtual network functions. Which is where the isolation again comes in handy, as does a high core count so that functions can be given their own threads.

The C3000 range is also expected to fill Atoms' usual roles in storage and networking appliances.

The new Xeon D-1500 range has been dubbed the “Network Series” because they, too, are expected to do duty beyond the data centre. They match the new Atoms for Ethernet and double compression/encryption throughput to 40 Gbps. Intel says they can also handle 90 Mpps of Layer 3 forwarding, a spec that makes them destined for white box routers perhaps in wireless base stations.

Perhaps they'll be paired with another new piece of Chipzilla kit: the Network Adapter XXV710. These babies are Intel's stab at 25 Gb Ethernet, but are also happy at 10Gb. The PCIE 3.0 are designed to play nice with Xeons, handing off jobs as and when needed. Another piece of kit they are happy to work alongside is the new QuickAssist Technology Adapter, a PCIe card that accelerates compression/encryption up to 100 Gbps. Intel wants you to add this device to Xeon boxen to make them even more efficient at handling secure traffic flows, again because it sees a role for them on the network edge.

Why all this edge-of-network stuff now? Another new product – the gigabit-capable XMMTM 7560 LTE Modem – explains Intel's direction: the company believes fast mobile networks will create demand for more networking kit on the network edge and believes that kit will be the target of network function virtualization. Chips that can handle lots of traffic, divide themselves up to isolate workloads and do that without sipping much power will be in demand once 4G and 5G become widely-deployed. Intel wants to be there and offer developers the oh-so-familiar x86 environment that useful virtual functions can already target.

And it wants suite of products to do all that stuff before fast wireless gets big, because it lagged on mobile devices and look how that turned out for everyone but ARM.

All of the products mentioned above are due on sale later in 2017, save for the modem which will sample some time in the second half of the year. ®

PS: AMD's Ryzen desktop CPUs are now available to preorder, and will go on general sale on March 2.

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