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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags MWCLSIComponentsprocessors

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 Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?