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Xeon D-1600 Tackles NFV, 5G Systems

April 16, 2019

Author: Linley Gwennap

Intel is tackling the embedded market with two new processor families for networking and storage equipment. The Xeon D-1600 family, code-named Hewitt Lake, fills out the low end of the lineup with a set of 2- to 8-core products having optional crypto acceleration called QuickAssist. At the high end, the second-generation Xeon Scalable processors, known as Cascade Lake, offer 8 to 28 cores and include new N- and T-series models optimized for networking and communications. Cascade Lake is already in production, whereas Hewitt Lake is scheduled for production later this quarter.

Neither family replaces the Xeon D-2100 (Skylake-D) products that Intel rolled out last year. Most of those chips feature 8 to 16 cores, and some have QuickAssist. The Xeon D-1600 line refreshes the older Xeon D-1500 line (Broadwell-D), offering 20–25% better performance at similar price and power. Cascade Lake scales to much greater performance but requires more power and commands higher prices. It must implement QuickAssist (if needed) externally, further increasing system power and cost.

These products are well suited to the growing deployment of network functions virtualization (NFV), which moves networking functions from specialized chips to general-purpose processors. NFV allows service providers to quickly update and deploy services without changing the underlying hardware. Although cellular operators have been slow to deploy NFV, the 5G transition presents an opportunity to convert to a more virtual network. Cascade Lake is better suited to core networks and large central deployments (such as cloud RAN), whereas Hewitt Lake targets edge routers, security appliances, storage appliances, and 5G base stations.

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