LSI hopes to power mobile networks with ARM-based processors

The company's AXM5500 processors will use up to 16 Cortex-A15 cores

Chipmaker LSI is taking ARM-based processors to new frontiers with its upcoming AXM5500 family, which will be used in mobile base stations of all sizes.

From today's smartphones, tablets and thin clients to tomorrow's servers, ARM-based processors are powering a growing number of different devices, and if LSI is successful, mobile networks will be added to that list. The company's AXM5500 family of processors will use up to 16 Cortex-A15 cores to power base stations for mobile networks.

The Cortex-A15 is ARM's most powerful processor to date, and is used in products like the Nexus 10 tablet from Google and Samsung Electronics.

"The intention is to provide high-performance and good efficiency on a scalable platform," said Troy Bailey, director of marketing at LSI.

LSI's processors for wireless infrastructure have historically been based on PowerPC processors, but because of increased demand for different size base stations in so-called heterogeneous networks, it decided to add ARM-based products.

In addition to achieving a new level of efficiency, working with ARM allows LSI to build a processor family that can be used in anything from a macro cell down to a pico cell, which means lower development costs, because software can be reused, according to Bailey. Pico cells are used to provide coverage for areas such as offices and shops. Installation and management becomes easier, as well, Bailey said.

The first two products are AXM5516 and AXM 5512, which have 16 and 12 cores, respectively. They are intended for use is large base stations. LSI will in the future add processors with fewer cores that are a better fit for small cells.

The product family also uses ARM's new CoreLink CCN-504 Cache Coherent Network interconnect, which was announced in October last year. It can prioritize time-sensitive traffic and offers up to one terabit of usable system bandwidth per second, according to ARM.

"It is a very good and scalable interconnect. One of the challenges when building high core count processors is making sure you have no bottlenecks and waste the cores," Bailey said.

The company is also looking at ARM's new big.LITTLE processing architecture, which in its first generation combines the powerful Cortex-A15 and the energy-efficient Cortex-A7 on one die.

"There certainly are some tasks that need a very strong single thread performance, and there are some tasks that don't, and it doesn't make sense to light up a big A15 if it can be done on an A7, so we think it makes sense," Bailey said.

The company will start sampling the first processors during the third quarter. Because the products aren't being sampled yet, LSI will have to make to with visual demos showing the performance and power savings at next week's Mobile World Congress.

LSI will have to convince equipment vendors that using ARM in their base stations is a good move and at least one company is open to the idea. Ericsson isn't currently using ARM-based processors in its base stations. But "as we continue to expand and develop our base station portfolio, we always evaluate what possibilities are available from the general ICT industry and we might use ARM based processors in the future," a spokeswoman said via email.

"We definitely have some major customers that are going in the ARM direction, and we have built this product for them" Bailey said.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MWCLSIComponentsprocessors

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?