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A Guide to Network Processors

Sixteenth Edition

To be Published December 2015
Order by November 30 and take $300 off the list price

Authors: Bob Wheeler and Loring Wirbel

Single License: $3,995 (single copy, one user)
Corporate License: $5,995

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The Definitive Report on Network Processing

NPUs are a critical ingredient of carrier-equipment designs. These chips appear in designs from leading OEMs spanning many applications from wireless backhaul to Carrier-Ethernet switch/routers. This broad adoption created a merchant market that exceeded $300 million in 2014, large enough to sustain multiple vendors. In 2015, however, three of the active NPU vendors are being acquired, service providers are adopting NFV, and NPUs are finding new applications in data centers.

High-end NPUs are scaling to 200Gbps and beyond to support high-density line cards and 100G Ethernet. Some remain focused on Layer 2/3 forwarding, whereas others are addressing flow processing at Layers 4 through 7. The latter group is also addressing new system architectures including smart top-of-rack switches and appliances using intelligent NICs (iNICs). A "Guide to Network Processors" provides a single comprehensive report covering NPUs spanning carrier and data-center applications.

This report covers programmable NPUs including: Broadcom’s XGS Core and StrataDNX lines, EZchip’s NP and NPS lines, Netronome's NFP, and PMC-Sierra’s WinPath. New to this edition is coverage of iNICs from EZchip (Tilera) and Netronome. This report also includes coverage of search coprocessors, such as Broadcom’s KBP products, Cavium’s Neuron Search, Marvell’s Questflo, and Renesas’s TCAMs.

Only The Linley Group follows this market closely enough to give you the complete picture. Which vendors are in this business for the long haul? How do the latest products stack up? What is the market outlook for merchant NPUs? "A Guide to Network Processors" is the result more than a decade of research that cannot be duplicated. If you are interested in following this strategic standard-product segment, you have located the definitive source.

Get Facts, Not Fiction

This report cuts through the vendor hype and gives you the solid information you need to understand this market. "A Guide to Network Processors" analyzes each vendor and each product, probes their strengths and weaknesses, then presents key details in a consistent, easy to compare fashion. For those less familiar with this combination of networking and CPU design, the report includes several introductory chapters that define and describe basic concepts and key technologies.

The Linley Group is the most recognized and respected name for technology and market analysis of network processors. Don't be fooled by weak overviews written by market analysts who really don't understand how a network processor works. The "Guide" provides a unique combination of business and technology savvy from the leading analysts in this market. Bob Wheeler and Loring Wirbel use their long experience in the networking world to analyze these devices. Together, the two authors ignore the fiction and provide the real story on each NPU vendor and its products.

Don't miss the latest information on this important market. Order now.

This report is written for:

  • Engineers who are designing carrier-networking equipment and need to select a network processor (NPU)
  • Network architects at carriers and service providers who need to get up to speed on this technology
  • Marketing and engineering staff at companies that sell NPU products or partner with NPU vendors
  • Technology professionals who wish an introduction to carrier-networking and network processors
  • Financial analysts who desire a detailed analysis and comparison of NPU companies and their chances of success
  • Universities and research institutes that need a vendor-neutral introduction to this market and technology

What's New in This Edition

Updates to the 16th Edition of "A Guide to Network Processors"

"A Guide to Network Processors" has been extensively updated to include the latest disclosures from NPU vendors as well as 2015 market data.

Here are some of the many changes you will find:

  • New quantitative market data, including:
    • Preliminary NPU vendor market shares for 2015
    • Preliminary search coprocessor vendor market shares for 2015
    • Revised forecasts for merchant NPUs and search coprocessors through 2020
  • Coverage of Broadcom’s 28nm StrataDNX (Dune) line
  • New coverage of EZchip’s TILEncore intelligent NICs
  • New coverage of Netronome’s FlowNICs
  • Extensive updates to company-background information, roadmaps, and analysis for major NPU vendors
  • Revised and updated tutorials
List of Figures
List of Tables
About the Authors
About the Publisher
Executive Summary
1 Introduction to Carrier Networks
Network Types and Topologies
Equipment Types
2 Carrier-Network Technology
Network Layers and the OSI Model
Network Protocol Details
Carrier Ethernet Services
Packet-Processing Pipeline
Network and I/O Interfaces
3 Network Processors
What Is a Network Processor?
What Is Not a Network Processor?
NPU Common Characteristics
Search Coprocessors
4 Market Size and Trends
NPU Market Size and Segmentation
NPU Market Share by Vendor
NPU Market Forecast
Search-Coprocessor Market Share and Forecast
Market and Technology Trends
5 Broadcom
Company Background
NPU Key Features and Performance
Search Coprocessor (KBP) Key Features and Performance
NPU Design Details
Search Coprocessor Design Details
System Design
Development Tools
Product Roadmap
6 EZchip
Company Background
NPU Key Features and Performance
NPU Internal Architecture
NPU System Design
Intelligent NICs
Development Tools
Product Roadmap
7 Netronome
Company Background
Flow Processors
Intelligent NICs
Software Drivers and Tools
Product Roadmap
8 PMC-Sierra
Company Background
Key Features and Performance
Internal Architecture
System Design
Development Tools
9 Search-Coprocessor Vendors
Cavium (Neuron Search)
Marvell (Questflo)
XeL Technology
10 NPU and iNIC Comparisons
100Gbps-and-Above NPUs
Key Differentiators
40Gbps-and-Above iNICs
11 Conclusions
Vendor Outlook
Closing Thoughts
Appendix: Further Reading


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