The XLS 208, launched at the Interop conference in Las Vegas, is a step up from the company's lowest performing chip, the single-core XLS 204. While the latter would be optimal for network appliances serving 10 to 15 users, the XLS 208 can handle from 25 to 35 users, company executives said. For more robust performance, the next progression in the product line would be the XLS 400 series.
The XLS line in general targets entry- to medium-level gateways, WAN optimization appliances, content-security appliances, access points for wireless LANs, unified threat management appliances, and other network devices. The product line is geared toward small and midsize businesses, or branch offices in large corporations.
Each core in the XLS line has four threads. For software development on top of XLS processors, RMI has licensed the MIPS64 instruction set from MIPS Technologies. MIPS64 is a RISC microprocessor architecture primarily used in embedded systems. In building software for RMI chips, developers can use a general-purpose programming model that supports Linux, Wind River's VxWorks, and other common platforms, RMI executives said.
The XLS 208 has a 72-bit interface for integration with DDR2 memory, which means the processor can work with off-the-shelf DIMMs, or dual in-line memory modules. In addition, it has four PCI Express 1.1 interfaces, a 256-KB L2 cache, 533-MHz memory speed, and four 1-Gb Ethernet ports. The chip consumes less than 10 watts of power.
The new chip also includes what RMI calls its Autonomous Security Engine, which is an integrated accelerator that handles all cryptographic operations, such as decrypting and authenticating packets, without drawing processing power from the CPU. "It's a separate accelerator that's built into the chip itself," Lance Smith, VP and general manager for RMI's scalable processor solutions, told InformationWeek.
RMI has developed an evaluation and development motherboard for the XLS 208, as well as a software development kit. RMI customers typically build their own product boards, or buy them from original design manufacturers, such as Continuous Computing, Advantec, or Lanner Electronics.
Pricing for the XLS 208 starts at about $50 for orders from 25,000 to 50,000 units. RMI's major competitors include Intel and Freescale Semiconductor.
Server Market SplitsvilleJust because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.