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Thursday, December 05, 2013
Intel Highland Forest Platform Promises to Accelerate Network Transformation

Intel has updated its networking silicon with the 'Highland Forest' platform, which promises to offer faster compression, encryption and deep-packet inspection for enterprise, carrier and cloud-provider networks.

Highland Forest is Intel's new communications platform that combines the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v2 with the next generation of the Intel Communications Chipset Series 89xx (codename Coleto Creek). A typical configuration of Highland Forest will consist of two of the 20-core processors and four Coleto Creek chipsets.

According to Steve Price, general manager of Intel's Communication Infrastructure Division, Highland Forest will boost the performance of network traffic, delivering up to 255 million packets per second. Highland Forest will also create efficiencies for Intel's telecom customers though workload consolidation, streamlined R&D resources, common software tools and faster system integration.

Compared with its predecessor, Cave Creek, the Coleto Creek chipset can deliver as much as 40,000 operations per second of RSA decryption, versus 5,500 operations per second for Cave Creek. It can also compress data at 24G bps (bits per second), up from 8Gbps for Cave Creek.

Intel said the chip does not use any acceleration logic for regular expressions, popular in other network processors. Instead it relies on the x86 for such jobs, but Intel does plan advances with its AVX instruction set, use of caches and external memory to enhance reg ex performance in future offerings.

Intel says a common x86 architecture can help networking vendors build more efficient types of infrastructure for enterprises and service providers. Vendors can start to move toward x86 and a single software platform throughout most of the network, slashing the time and cost required to come out with new gear.

NFV (network functions virtualization), designed to shift tasks in carrier networks from specialized devices to standard, virtualized server hardware, could help Intel to propagate x86 further into networking, according to Intel.

Intel's networking chipsets offer a common set of functions across Atom and Xeon solutions for small to large systems. Those functions include IPsec and SSL security, Intel's DPDK (Data Plane Development Kit) technology for faster packet processing, and Hyperscan deep-packet inspection powered by technology Intel acquired earlier this year with Sensory Networks.

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