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Entries in FPGAs (7)


Will white boxes predominate in telecom networks? 

Will future operator networks be built using software, servers and white boxes or will traditional systems vendors with years of network integration and differentiation expertise continue to be needed? 


AT&T’s announcement that it will deploy 60,000 white boxes as part of its rollout of 5G in the U.S. is a clear move to break away from the operator pack.

The service provider has long championed network transformation, moving from proprietary hardware and software to a software-controlled network based on virtual network functions running on servers and software-defined networking (SDN) for the control switches and routers.

Glenn WellbrockNow, AT&T is going a stage further by embracing open hardware platforms - white boxes - to replace traditional telecom hardware used for data-path tasks that are beyond the capabilities of software on servers.       

For the 5G deployment, AT&T will, over several years, replace traditional routers at cell and tower sites with white boxes, built using open standards and merchant silicon.

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FPGAs with 56-gigabit transceivers set for 2017

Xilinx is expected to ship its first FPGAs featuring 56-gigabit transceivers next year. 

The company demonstrated a 56-gigabit transceiver using 4-level pulse-amplitude modulation (PAM-4) at the recent OFC show. The 56-gigabit transceiver, also referred to as a serialiser-deserialiser (serdes), was shown successfully working over backplane specified for 25-gigabit signalling only.

Gilles GarciaXilinx's 56-gigabit serdes is implemented using a 16nm CMOS process node but the first FPGAs featuring the design will be made using a 7nm process. Gilles Garcia says the choice of 7nm CMOS is solely a business decision and not a technical one.

”Optical module [makers] will take another year to make something decent using PAM-4," says Garcia, Xilinx's director marketing and business development, wired communications. "Our 7nm FPGAs will follow very soon afterwards.”

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OpenCL and the reconfigurable data centre

Part 3: General purpose data centres

Xilinx's adoption of the Open Computing Language (OpenCL) as part of its SDAccel development tool is important, not just for FPGAs but also for the computational capabilities of the data centre.

The FPGA vendor is promoting its chips as server co-processors to tackle complex processing tasks such as image searches, encryption, and custom computation.   

Search-engine specialists such as Baidu and Microsoft have seen a greater amount of traffic for image and video searches in the last two years, says Loring Wirbel, senior analyst at market research firm, The Linley Group: "All of a sudden they are seeing that these accelerator cards as being necessary for general-purpose data centres."

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What role FPGA server co-processors for virtual routing?

Part 2:  Accelerating virtual routing functions using FPGAs

IP routing specialists have announced first virtual edge router products that run on servers. These include Alcatel-Lucent with its Virtualized Service Router and Juniper with its vMX. Gazettabyte asked Alcatel-Lucent's Steve Vogelsang about the impact FPGA accelerator cards could have on IP routing.


Steve Vogelsang, IP routing and transport CTO, Alcatel-Lucent

The co-processor cards in servers could become interesting for software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV).

The main challenge is that we require that our virtualised network functions (vNFs) and SDN data plane can run on any cloud infrastructure; we can’t assume that any specific accelerator card is installed. That makes it a challenge.

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Cortina unveils multi-channel dispersion compensation chip 

Cortina Systems has announced its latest electronic dispersion compensation (EDC) chip.  The CS4342 is a compact device that supports eight duplex 10 Gigabit-per-second (Gbps) links. 


"Some customers are doing 2,000 signals at 10 Gig across the backplane"

Scott Feller, Cortina 






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Reflections and predictions: 2011 & 2012 - Part 1

Gazettabyte has asked industry analysts, CEOs, executives and commentators to reflect on the last year and comment on developments they most anticipate for 2012.


"For 2012, the macroeconomy is likely to dominate any other developments"








Martin Geddes, telecom consultant @martingeddes

Sometimes the important stuff is slow-burning: we're seeing a continued decline in the traditional network equipment providers, and the rise in Genband, Acme, Sonus and Metaswitch in their place. Smaller, leaner, and more used to serving Tier 2 and Tier 3 operators and enterprise players and their lower cost structures. 

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Xilinx's 400 Gigabit Ethernet FPGA

Xilinx has detailed its latest 28nm CMOS Virtex-7 FPGA family that will support 400 Gigabit Ethernet on a single device. The Virtex-7HT completes the Virtex-7, joining the Virtex-7T and Virtex-7XT product families announced in June.


A single FPGA will support 400 Gigabit Ethernet duplex traffic. The FPGA can also support 4x100Gig MACs and 4x150Gbps Interlaken interfaces. Source: Xilinx

Why is it important?

Xilinx says its switch and router customers are more than doubling the traffic capacity of their platforms every three years. “They are looking for silicon that will support a doubling of capacity within the same form-factor and the same power budget,” says Giles Peckham, EMEA marketing director at Xilinx.  

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