Cisco Unveils 40-Core Networking Semiconductor - InformationWeek

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Cisco Unveils 40-Core Networking Semiconductor

The QuantumFlow Processor includes a programmable chipset and can perform up to 160 simultaneous processes.

Cisco Systems on Monday introduced the QuantumFlow Processor, a 40-core networking semiconductor that includes a programmable chipset.

Developed over the last five years, the processor can perform up to 160 simultaneous processes, according to Cisco. Development of the product has led to more than 40 patent submissions.

Many of the engineers who worked on the QuantumFlow also developed the Cisco Silicon Packet Processor for the company's Carrier Routing System, or CRS-1, which debuted in 2004. The transistor density in the latest processor more than quadruples that of the SPP. The latter processor has 185 million transistors, and the QuantumFlow has 800 million, Cisco said.

While Cisco has not said what it plans to do with the new processor, it could appear in Cisco's CRS. The company has scheduled a March 4 product launch in which Cisco promises to unveil "a breakthrough innovation that will improve the network for everyone."

Cisco, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, and a host of startups are changing IP networks from a dumb technology by selling programmable platforms that can understand and process the data running over them, moving smarts back from servers and other endpoints.

While the networks are presumably more flexible and faster, the downside is higher hardware costs, as proprietary switches replace commodity devices. Cisco hopes to convince customers to deploy servers into pools of resources, like CPUs and memory, which are networked. In this future, an enterprise data center would be reduced to little more than a virtual machine on a giant switch, one that Cisco hopes will carry its name.

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