SAN JOSE, Calif. Wind River Systems is rolling out at the Embedded Systems Conference the first of a family of integrated software development packages. Targeting telecom system designers, the Network Acceleration Platform bundles multiple operating systems and tools and the first of a set of algorithms Wind River is developing for higher-level features.
The platform approach is an effort to simplify the task of delivering software for bandwidth-hungry applications on increasingly complex multicore processors. The software will be available in May, initially only for Intel's Xeon 5500 family of processors.
“In the past we did lego blocks–you needed multiple OSes and tools,” said Mike Langlois, general manager of the networking and telecommunications group at Wind River. “Our customers spend 80 percent of their time integrating our products, so our focus now is to put the pieces together for them,” he said.
The package is one of the first major product announcement from Wind River since it was acquired by Intel Corp last June. Wind River executives said they will make the platform available on QorIQ processors from Freescale Semiconductor and Octeon processors from Cavium Networks, but had no target dates for supporting those chips.
“We actually have accelerated our support for Cavium and Freescale chips because if we get branded as focused on Intel it would hurt our business, so we are overcompensating to support other chips,” said Tomas Evensen, chief technology officer of Wind River. “Customers are really scrutinizing us because they do not want to have a lock in with a particular chip and a software stack,” he said.
The package debuts just one day after Freescale announced new partnerships with Enea Systems, Green Hills Software and Mentor Graphics to deliver a wide range of tools and operating systems for its QorIQ and PowerQuicc processors. As part of that announcement Freescale executives also underscored their ongoing efforts to work with Wind River that supplies the lion's share of embedded software to its customers today.
However, industry analysts said they expect a gradual realignment of embedded software and processor companies after a spate of acquisitions. Besides the Wind Rover/Intel deal, Cavium Networks bought Montavista and Research in Motion bid to buy QNX Software Systems.
“It's hard to maintain an independent software company inside a processor company,” said Linley Gwennap, principal of market watcher the Linley Group (Mountain View, Calif.).
“If you peel back the rhetoric, Freescale is dumping Wind River and taking up with Enea and others,” Gwennap said. “You can continue using [Wind River's] VxWorks on Freescale processors, but going forward it's a question of who they will work with closely,” he said.
“I think the Freescale customer base will move away from Montavista in the long term too,” Gwennap added, noting Freescale will now standardize on Mentor's System Builder variant of Linux rather than its in-house version called LTIB.
Wind River's Network Acceleration Platform aims to serve a broad range wired and wireless telecom systems geared for fast packet forwarding.
It includes Wind River's Linux and Vxworks real-time operating system (RTOS) as well as a lightweight executive derived from Vxworks as a streamlined environment for data plane processing and a hypervisor to insulate separate data and control plane jobs running on different cores of a multicore processor.
“Linux is increasingly popular on the control plane, but more programming is moving to the data plane which requires an RTOS,” said Evensen. “If you don't have protection between the control and data planes, things get out of phase,” he added.
Telecom system designers are increasingly embracing multicore processors and loading them with a growing set of data plane applications, Evensen said.
“OEMs are delivering quality-of-service and deep packet inspection programming on the data plane so carriers can support different charges for different services–that fits into the multicore trend,” Evensen said. “Three years ago they were kicking tires [on multicore processors] now everyone is doing it with projects in flight or already shipping,” he said.
“We see this trend happening quickly and across the board in core, access, edge and even consumer premises equipment,” said Langlois.
A new element in the bundle is a network acceleration algorithm for handling Layer 3 packet forwarding. The company is developing a suite of such algorithms for future products, many of them focused on network security tasks.
The new algorithms will likely compete with the network applications Freescale launched in June 2009. The Freescale software called VortiQa was based on code it acquired with startup Intoto.
Wind River claims its package can forward 21 million IPv4 packets/second using four threads on an Intel dual-core Xeon 5500 board running Linux. That's the equivalent throughput of more than 14 Gigabit Ethernet ports in terms of Layer 3 forwarding, the company said.
The package is available as complete software set for new customers or an upgrade kit that provides any missing components to existing Wind River users. Prices were not published.
Wind River plans a variety of multicore software packages for other market segments generally focused on packet processing jobs.