Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cavium Demos Cloud RAN on 48 Core 64-bit ARMv8-A ThunderX Chip

At this week’s Mobile World Congress, Cavium is showcasing its family of ThunderX ARMv8-A based processors for servers with support for full virtualization of base station functions in a Cloud RAN (Radio Access Network) environment.

The Cloud RAN implementation runs 3GPP LTE Release 9, with support for multiple radio heads across different frequencies. Cavium implements a "split MAC" architecture. It uses standard Ethernet unlike current C-RAN approaches that use CPRI and require dark fiber.

Cavium’s flagship ThunderX boasts up to 48 ARMv8-A (64-bit) cores in a highly integrated SoC.
"ThunderX is a highly competitive solution for CRAN and NFV applications delivering high performance with extremely attractive cost and power metrics," commented Raj Singh, Vice President and General Manager of Cavium's Wireless product lines. "This Cloud-RAN implementation demonstrates the raw performance of the ThunderX SoC, as well as the development advantages of a unified architecture."

In June 2014, Cavium introduced its line of "Project Thunder" 64-bit processors for next gen data centers, cloud and NFV applications. 

The new processors will pack up to 80 custom ARMv8 cores along with configurable/virtualized network and storage I/O options, and a set of configurable HW accelerators for different applications. 

Cavium will be offering four versions depending on the type of hardware accelerators on-board"  Compute ThunderX_CP, Networking ThunderX_NT, Storage ThunderX_ST and Security ThunderX_SC.  Sampling is expected in Q4 2014.

The new ARM-based devices will be implemented in 28nm technology.  Global Foundry is the fab.  Performance/Watt will be one of the key metrics that the ARM-devices will bring to the table. The company has commercially supported Linux OS partnerships lined-up with Canonical and MontaVista.  Cavium has also joined the Open Compute Foundation and said its ThunderX processors are well-suited for this architecture.

In the networking space, the ThunderX_NT processor is aimed at high-performance data plane applications, including NFV implementations, media servers and embedded applications. The devices will offer 10/40/100G I/O and full virtualization support.