Leveraging the knowledge it gained in designing processors for mobile devices, Qualcom Atheros has just released its IPQ Internet Processor architecture.
The first two IPQ devices in the new family are the IPQ8062 and IPQ8064 targeted at retail routers and home media servers. They are currently in production and will be available in commercial products in the first half of 2014. IPQ-based gateways and enterprise access points are expected by mid-2014.
With this move, Qualcomm clearly has the aim of establishing its mobile phone technology “DNA” on smarthome platforms for home gateways, routers and media servers. That will, it clearly believes, put it in a key position to readily support the next generation of IP-based content, applications, systems and the still largely ambiguous and vague ‘internet of things.”
The kinds of home networking operations it foresees include home health monitoring, home automation and control, and management of a “thing” based personal cloud.
It pairs the dual core Krait processor designed for mobile smartphone devices, with a specialized packet processor engine to accelerate the kinds of operations it sees as typical in many connected embedded devices that will soon populate the home.
Specifically, the SoC at the core of the family incorporates its well-tested dual-core 1.4 GHz Krait central processing unit (CPU) for managing advanced functions such as complex and demanding Internet-based applications and services. It works in tandem with the company’s new dual-core 730 MHz Packet Processor Engine, to offload network traffic, supporting up to 5 Gbps of aggregate capacity across LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, HomePlug™ powerline, hybrid wired/wireless, and Ethernet.
It is also gambling that users of smart home devices will also be looking to be sure such “thing” devices do not drive up the use of electric power.
To that end, the company has fabricated the new devices using a 28 nm CMOS process that it claims offers 70 percent greater performance-per-watt than the nearest competitor. It does this by scaling system operation to adjust to network demands, unlike most network processors function only in on or off modes, with continuous power used in always-on gateways.
It has designed the IPQ’s modular hardware and software design such that it is as much as possible a PHY-agnostic processor supporting PCIe, USB 3.0, SATA3, SDIO, and Gigabit Ethernet, to provide a broad range of products and minimize platform development investment and time across product lines.