Intel unveiled its third generation “Highland Forest” communications platform aimed at data center, cloud and telco networks. The new solution combines Intel's latest Xeon E5 processors and a new “Coleto Creek” chipset to perform a variety of traffic workloads, including application, control plane, packet and some signal processing workloads. The target is to power the next generation of open, standards-based, compute systems for software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV).
In a webcast , Rose Schooler, GM and VP of Intel's Data Center Group, valued the overall opportunity at $16 billion, noting that Intel currently holds under 5% market share of this data networking market but has been making steady progress since introducing its first generation "Crystal Forest" communications platform in early 2012. The new Highland Forest solution promises a 2X-6X performance gain over Crystal Forest, thanks to the continuous progress of Moore's Law and the implementation of several acceleration
Some performance highlight of Highland Forest include:
- Up to 255 million packets/sec with Intel Data Plane Development Kit
- Up to 140 Gbps Deep Packet Inspections with Hyperscan
- Up to 100 Gbps IPsec
- Up to 200 Gbps SSL.
Innovations in the Intel Xeon E5-2600 v2 chips include up to 20-cores and faster memories, built-in security features and improved virtualization. These are implemented in 22nm. The Coleto Creek chipset brings accelerators for RSA decryption, IPsec and SSL crypto, Kasumi/Snow3G wireless crypto, 24 Gbps compression and additional virtual function capabilities. Coleto Creek is implemented in 32nm. The Highland Forest solution will be implemented in telco-grade blades and servers from the likes of Dell, Emerson, Advantech and Radisys. Intel will offer QuickAssist Server Accelerator Cards, as will Silicom.
The Deep Packet Inspection with Hyperscan runs purely in software (no hardware accelerators) using a unique pattern matching technology developed by Australian-based Sensory Networks. Intel acquired Sensory Networks in September.
Some notes from the presentation:
- There are four network functions that have already been virtualized on the Intel architecture: VMs used to deliver gateway, firewall, VPN and load balancer capabilities.
- The key components in Intel's networking strategy include the Xeon CPUs, the Coleto Creek chipset accelerators, its NIC silicon, its Ethernet switching silicon, a data plane development kit, and Open Networking Software. For its own testing, Intel uses software from its Windriver division. It also supports software from 6wind and tieto.
- While Highland Forest targets the high-end processing workloads, Intel said it is equally committed to low and mid-range packet processing. At the low-end are dual-core Atom 2000 series processors with extremely low energy usage and capable of handling 30 million packets/sec.
- NSN is using the Intel Architecture for its Liquid Core virtualization.
- SK Telecom has verified the feasibility of telco cloud technology.
- Intel currently has over 15 SDN/NFV qualification trials underway with carriers in all major regions. Schooler emphasized that Intel has no intention to sell directly to service providers and is fully committed to launching an Intel Network Builders Ecosystem of industry players supporting the Intel Architecture.