Electronic Design
Multicore Server Processor Slims Down Secure Networking

Multicore Server Processor Slims Down Secure Networking

The 40nm single-core Mamba APM86190 and dual core APM86290 (Fig. 1) are the latest PacketPRO processors from Applied Micro. They are based on 1.5 GHz, 32-bit 460 PowerPC cores that deliver 300 DMIPS/core. The chips also include another core, the 32-bit, 250 MHz Scalable Lightweight Intelligent Management Processor (SLIMpro). The SLIMpro core (Fig. 2) handles a range of functions from security to power management. It can run alone consuming only 200mW.

The dual core PowerPC chip can operate in AMP or SMP modes. Future versions are likely to provide additional cores. Each core has a 32 Kbyte L1 cache for instructino and data plus a 256 Kbyte L2 cache. The DDR3 interface handles 32- and 64-bit memory.

The power management of each core is independent and handled by the SLIMpro. The SLIMpro is programmable but typically Applied Micro will be providing the firmware for it. It runs code in its own RAM that is loaded as part of a secure boot process. This in turn allows the SLIMpro to manage the secure boot of the other cores as well as configuration of the security domains.

The security domains and security support differentiate the Mamba from other systems. The system has 256 hardware queues that are managed and allocated via this system. These can support peripherals like the Gigabit Ethernet ports. The SLIMpro system manages the packet classifier, traffic manager, queue manager and security system thereby providing a highly secure communication subsystem that isolates the cores from the network except through these channels. This network offload capability significantly reduces overhead on the main processors. Likewise, resource virtualization allows peripherals to be allocated to a particular core if necessary. The chips even support secure debug and monitoring.

Unlike some of the competition, the Mamba includes secure, on-chip memory plus tamper detection support. It has a hardare random number generator and real time clock. The crypto engine handles all major encryption options.

The Mamba is likely to find a home as a secure gateway and similar secure network appliance applications. It is also targeting NAS boxes. It has RAID 5 and 6 support along with a pair of SATA interfaces. The x1 and x4 Gen 2 PCI Express interfaces provide additional expansion capabilities.

Other on-chip peripherals include 2 SPI ports, 2 I2C ports, 4 UARTs and 3 USB 2.0 ports. There is also an LCD interface, that tends to be handy on NAS boxes and other appliances, and GPIO pins. The 2 SDHC ports and flash memory interface provide access to additional off-chip storage.

The dual core processor consumes up to 6.5W. The SLIMpro supports a range of power modes including clock gating both cores. The chip consumes less than 1W in sleep mode with DRAM in self refresh mode and Wake on X (LAN, USB, etc.) support. It is available in a 27mm by 27mm FC-PBGA package.

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