Electronic Design

Content Processor Makes System Throughput Sail

This reprogrammable processor accelerates critical applications like virus scanning and XML processing, freeing up computer resources on the server.

A network's server often creates a performance bottleneck due to all of the software checks or operations it must perform on incoming data. But by offloading the compute-intensive tasks onto a content-processing engine that sits between the server and the high-speed network interface, server performance could improve by five to 50 times.

Controlled by a custom-designed control processor, Tarari's CPX2120 XML content processor leverages a parallel-processing architecture implemented on two large FPGAs to accelerate the performance of compute-intensive algorithms. These algorithms are typically executed for tasks such as anti-virus scanning and XML's parsing and cryptology requirements.

The three-chip set is used on a 64-bit/66-MHz half-length PCI card that can be plugged into a gateway device or server. The card consumes a maximum of 25 W and can operate from 0°C to 55°C. By exploiting firmware downloaded to the card, or stored locally, the FPGAs can be configured to perform virus scans or XML processing.

In the XML world, acceleration is becoming a critical requirement since XML message size, complexity, and traffic are rising at an alarming rate on networks and servers. Processing and securing this traffic slows down the networks, which impacts intercompany communications.

By accelerating the most compute-intensive XML activities—encrypting/decrypting XML content, examining attachments, and processing complex structures at several points in the network—will recover much of the server performance. Recovered throughput can then be devoted to other tasks, further enhancing network performance.

Similarly, the CPX2110 anti-virus content processor can accelerate anti-virus computations by up to an order of magnitude. Its software can be updated to detect and eliminate new virus algorithms as well. With the content processor, in-line devices such as gateways could operate at gigabit data rates without impacting the server's capability. The processor's high speed enables the anti-virus solution to more deeply analyze the message payloads, not just the message headers. Initially, Tarari will partner with anti-virus vendor Trend Micro to implement Trend's software on the content processor.

The CPX2120 XML and the CPX2110 cost about $2000 in volume. A development kit including the board and various development tools costs about $5000.

Tarari Inc.
(858) 385-5131

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