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AMD is getting into networking and is using a 64-bit ARM core to do it

Chip-maker AMD detailed today new networking technology that uses its 64-bit ARM-based system-on-chip (SoC), dubbed Hierofalcon. AMD’s demonstration of its tech at ARM TechCon 2014 highlights the fact that big chip makers like AMD and Intel are taking networking seriously and are stepping on the turf of custom networking chip makers like Cavium and Freescale.

With Hierofalcon, AMD was supposedly able to show that it could perform network function virtualization (NFV) techniques like virtualizing a network gateway, a serving gateway and mobility management entity — which is responsible for paging and authenticating mobile devices. NFV is a type of networking architecture that aims to virtualize the entire network, thus removing the need of having to manage and maintain lots of networking hardware.

The fact that people have been extending the network through the advance of mobile and the IoT in recent years has made big companies like AMD and Intel realize that they need to gain traction in the marketplace. Last September, Intel showcased its own Atom system on a chip, which powers Ericsson’s networking gear that it sells to its telecom customers. This Atom SoC is just one product in Intel’s networking arsenal, which also includes the Crystal Forest chip, designed to take take advantage of the fact that big telcos are tired of spending a ton of cash on hardware and are looking at software-based alternatives.

Earlier this week, I got to talk with members of the newly formed Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV), created to standardize a framework for using NFV technology so that companies can develop newer high-tech networking products quicker. While the NFV technology is still developing and there hasn’t been a big use case of a company implementing it as of yet, industry watchers are hopeful that NFV will hit the mainstream soon.

Given our ever-connected world, it’s only a matter of time before the networking infrastructure designed to handle all of our various devices eventually catches up.

Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Shutterstock user Tarchyshnik Andrei.