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Linley Wire

NetLogic’s XLP II Grows More CPUs

October 10, 2011

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

NetLogic is forging ahead with its next-generation XLP II family of networking processors, even while Broadcom’s pending acquisition of the company moves toward resolution. To keep the heat on rivals like Cavium, Freescale, and Intel, NetLogic must keep its transition to a new product line and 28nm technology on schedule.

At the recent Linley Tech Processor Conference in San Jose, NetLogic disclosed new information about the XLP II family. The first member is the eight-core XLP332E, which is scheduled to sample in 1Q12. The XLP332E will introduce the EG4400 CPU core, an enhanced version of the MIPS64-compatible EC4400 core found in today’s XLP-family processors. The XLP332E will also introduce PCI Express 3.0 and USB 3.0 to NetLogic’s product line.

Like today’s EC4400 core, the new EG4400 supports four-way superscalar execution and four threads (or “NXCPUs,” in NetLogic parlance). Therefore, the eight-core XLP332E is a 32-thread processor. The largest existing XLP-family processor is the eight-core XLP832, which has the same number of threads and runs at 2.0GHz. NetLogic says the 28nm process shrink will boost the XLP332E’s maximum clock frequency by 25%, reaching 2.5GHz.

The most powerful XLP II processor on the company’s roadmap is the XLP980, which will have 20 CPU cores and 80 threads. NetLogic says this chip will forward IP packets at a blazing 100Gbps. At the opposite end of the performance spectrum, the company is readying a dual-core XLP II processor, the XLP208. Both the XLP980 and XLP208 are scheduled to sample in 1H12. In line with normal industry practice, we expect production in 1H13.

NetLogic’s prospects look bright if the company can ship the XLP II on time while managing the marriage with Broadcom. The merged companies will gain market clout, product synergy, and access to more customers. Although it’s slippery ground, successful execution will put the wedded companies on firmer footing.