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Intel Snow Ridge Gains 5G Wins

March 31, 2020

Author: Linley Gwennap

Intel developed its first 10nm embedded processor, code-named Snow Ridge, specifically to meet the needs of 5G base stations. Officially the Atom P5900, the chip is somewhat of a follow-on to the 14nm Atom C3000 (Denverton), but to better address base stations, the company added acceleration technology from the Axxia processors it currently supplies to leading LTE-infrastructure vendors. This technology includes an autonomous IPSec engine and a hardware load balancer. Finally, Snow Ridge integrates a complete Ethernet switch based on the discrete Red Rock Canyon product. Originally targeting 2019 availability, the new processor just recently reached production; additional models for networking equipment should arrive later this year.

Snow Ridge offers big improvements over the three-year-old Denverton. It features the 10nm Tremont CPU, which provides about 40% better performance per clock (IPC) than the 14nm Goldmont microarchitecture. It also has up to 24 cores—50% more than Denverton, yielding more than twice the total CPU throughput. To support the greater performance, the new processor adds a large third-level (L3) cache and allows faster DRAM. It doubles the number of PCI Express lanes as well. Using its new acceleration engines, Snow Ridge can operate at 100Gbps for IPSec and Internet Protocol (IP) forwarding, 5x faster than its predecessor. The new Ethernet switch provides up to 16 ports of 25G Ethernet (GbE) for downlinks to baseband chips and speeds as high as 100GbE for uplinks to the core network.

Leading wireless-infrastructure suppliers Ericsson, Nokia, and ZTE will employ Snow Ridge as part of their 5G base stations. On the basis of these design wins (as well as use of its other FPGAs and ASICs), Intel expects to achieve at least 40% silicon share for base stations in 2021, becoming the market leader.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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