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LX2160A Is NXP’s Biggest Multicore

October 17, 2017

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

NXP is chasing high-end networking with its newest QorIQ processor, the LX2160A. Sporting 16 ARM Cortex-A72 cores, 100 Gigabit Ethernet, a 16-port Layer 2 switch, and faster acceleration for cryptography and data compression, it will be the company’s largest and fastest multicore embedded processor when it begins production—in mid-2019, by our estimate.

Announced at the recent Linley Processor Conference, the LX2160A is the most ambitious QorIQ design since the 12-core T4240, which began production five years ago. That chip implements the Power Architecture, not ARMv8. Nevertheless, the LX2160A has twice as many ARM CPUs as any existing QorIQ and ranks among the largest ARM-based embedded chips announced to date.

The LX2160A is nominally a general-purpose embedded processor but is optimized for networking. It targets enterprise-class virtual customer-premises equipment (vCPE), edge routers that host virtual machines, switch controllers, storage controllers, mobile edge computing, and 5G base stations (building on NXP’s strong position in 4G).

Its powerful CPU complex is particularly suited to network functions virtualization (NFV); the chip can run up to 16 heavyweight virtual network functions (VNFs). NXP strengthened the offload engines, too: cryptography processing is 67% faster than the T4240’s, and the compression and decompression engines are 5x faster.

The LX2160A is also the company’s first chip built with FinFETs. All existing ARM-based QorIQ models and Power-based T-series models are 28nm planar devices. For the LX2160A, the company chose the 16nm FinFET-C (16FFC) process at TSMC. Compared with the foundry’s original 16nm FinFET+ technology, 16FFC sacrifices a small amount of performance for lower cost. It will enable the LX2160A to undercut the prices of competing chips that beat it to earlier FinFET technologies.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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