New IBM Network Processor Software Adds Features, Simplifies Use

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SAN JOSE, CA - 23 Sep 2002: Communications Design Conference, IBM today announced the availability of new application software and tools for its PowerNP family of network processors, designed to make it easier than ever to introduce new network capabilities.

The IBM PowerNP family of network processors are advanced, programmable, high-performance solutions for the most demanding networking applications. The products can help network equipment manufacturers introduce new services through software changes, rather than costly hardware upgrades. The software enhancements being announced today include new features that support the latest version of Internet Protocol (IP), improved use of existing communications bandwidth and software development tools to make it easier for customers to program for the PowerNP.

"Our new software offerings are all about helping customers reduce development costs, risk and time to market," said Armando Garcia, vice president, network processors, IBM Microelectronics. "And with new software from companies who have worked closely with IBM, we've got the most complete set of ready-to-run network processor offerings available in the industry."

The new network processor software from IBM includes TCP and SCTP Termination modules, which provide a programming interface for customer applications to enable network processor applications such as load balancers, SAN multiprotocol routers and wireless infrastructure devices. The termination modules consist of a TCP or SCTP stack implemented to run entirely on a network processor. The termination modules provide a sockets-like interface for customer applications such as load balancers. The implementations support large numbers of simultaneously active connections with high connection transition rates. The ability to terminate connections in network processors is a paradigm shift that allows application of network processors into a variety of new applications. These modules are planned to be available in Q1 2003.

In addition, IBM announced immediate availability of an IPv6 forwarding sample that can be used in core/edge routers and wireless infrastructure devices. IBM also introduced an implementation of its patented Bandwidth Allocation Technology (BAT). BAT is an adaptive flow control algorithm that provides fair and efficient use of bandwidth and is easier to configure than existing flow control algorithms such as WRED. BAT allows service providers to deliver committed levels of quality of service that can be easily deployed and managed. BAT implementation is available now and only on the PowerNP family of network processors.

The new development tools from IBM include an optimizing C compiler for the network processors, which is available immediately. IBM also announced an enhanced source-level debugger that adds support for C and an easy to use graphical user interface. The debugger is planned to be available from IBM in Q4 2002. With this announcement IBM now offers a complete high level language and assembly development environment for quick prototypes and high performance production applications for the PowerNP network processors.

In addition to IBM's new network processor software, Silicon & Software Systems (S3) announced ATM and Load Balancer software, which has been validated for use with IBM PowerNP as a part of the Ready for IBM Technology program. The ATM software allows easy implementation of PowerNP into DSLAMs and wireless infrastructure devices. The load balancer software is a reference application for OEM's designing devices for data centers.

The IBM PowerNP Core Software Offering and Advanced Software Offering already include implementations of IPv4, MPLS, Diffserv, VLAN, L2 Switching and IP Multicast. In addition to the production quality forwarding implementations, the offerings provide device management, debug/diagnostics and network processor to control processor communication services. The offerings are built on a high performance and scalable software architecture and include multiple well defined interfaces on the control processor and the network processor. On the network processor, well defined hardware abstraction interfaces ensure portability of customer written applications across the PowerNP family of network processors. A set of easy to use application libraries help reduce application development time and expense. On the control processor, the implementations are RTOS independent with well defined interfaces to support addition of new forwarding applications. The APIs on the control processor are aligned with the NPF proposals.