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Putting flesh on the backbone

Communications processors continue to evolve. By Philip Ling.

The trend towards developing and using highly integrated communications processors stems from the network's increasing aggregated speed. The data and control plane can be mixed in networks operating up to OC-3 (155.53Mbit/s), beyond that the tasks are likely to be separated, which is where the specialist communication and network processors come in.

If early support from design partners is anything to go by, Motorola's third generation of the PowerQuicc family will be a resounding success. It was announced in July and Motorola doesn't expect to have first silicon samples until next year, but already third party supporters have rallied behind it, according to Motorola.

The time difference between its announcement and its introduction is more likely to be strategic rather than technical. An early disclosure gives its partners the tools to start developing with it now, in time for the expected increase in demand late next year.

Motorola isn't the only processor company moving forward with its architectures during the quiet period, which has to be seen as an encouraging sign. IDT has recently introduced its latest communications processor which, while targeting a different part of the network, has some similarities with PowerQuicc III.

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Graham Pitcher

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