Achieving deterministic performance is a key requirement for network operators to ensure reliability across wide variations of traffic profiles and applications. Multicore processors can meet performance challenges when running an application on a single, dual-core, or quad-core processor. However, when scaling to eight cores or beyond, performance scaling usually degrades. There are cases where eight cores deliver no better performance than four, and 16 cores actually run slower than eight.
Networking applications tend to be data-intensive, and generic multicore processors are highly susceptible to the impacts of memory latency on performance. The nonlinearities of memory latency (Figure 1) with regard to memory load combined with the nonlinearities of processor performance relative to memory latency can lead to unpredictable and unreliable performance. The innovative approach taken by LSI to solving this problem is asymmetrical multicore processors, which combine general-purpose processors with specialized accelerators for particular data-intensive tasks, resulting in an optimal, scalable solution.
Networking applications demand a flexible approach to OSs. This flexibility is required not only to meet application requirements, but also to support the smooth migration of OEM legacy software and give designers the ability to choose the right OS for a particular application. It is important to simultaneously support multiple OSs on different cores without introducing overhead. At LSI, our hardware and software has been architected from the ground up with all this in mind, providing flexible support for the range of OSs used in networking applications.