Wireless chip makers take aim at enterprise access points

Paul Boughton

Two key chip makers have launched devices to boost the performance of wireless access points.

Broadcom has launched a highly integrated processor system-on-a-chip (SoC) for enterprise access points (EAPs) optimise 5G WiFi using the latest IEEE 802.11ac standard. The ARM-based StrataGX BCM58522 Series combines up to 10x more processing power with advanced architectural features to enable a secure, application-aware unified wired and wireless enterprise network.

At the same time Freescale Semiconductor has launched an access point running ‘application aware’ embedded software. The platform combines 802.11ac radios with Freescale’s new VortiQa application identification software (AIS) running on its QorIQ P1020 communications processors. VortiQa AIS detects more than 1,200 applications and is equipped with comprehensive signature distribution infrastructure.

As the number of connected devices and cloud-based applications continues to climb, legacy networks are facing increased performance and capacity challenges that exert unique pressures on EAPs. With the emergence of bring-your-own-device (BYOD), IT managers are also facing intense security challenges as cyber threats rise.

According to service provider NQ Mobile's 2012 Security Report, malware attacks on mobile devices grew 163 percent in 2012. New capabilities in the Broadcom StrataGX Series address these challenges through integrated hardware cryptographic accelerators, virtual private network (VPN) support and sufficient control processing bandwidth to ensure high levels of performance.

The SoC integrates dual-core ARM CPU, Ethernet switch, accelerator engines, high-speed I/O and memory interfaces to meet the power requirements and size constraints of EAPs and reduces power consumption up to 80 percent on the previous generation. This allows it to be powered by IEEE 802.3af Power over Ethernet (PoE) to simplify its use in enterprise applications.  

A programmable packet and protocol accelerator enables high-performance offload of control and provisioning of wireless access points (CAPWAP) and generic routing encapsulation (GRE) tunnelling.

"Our latest StrataGX Series continues the rapid expansion of the StrataGX portfolio with sophisticated new security features to protect networks from malware and other threats that continue to challenge the enterprise," said Ed Redmond , Broadcom Vice President and General Manager, Compute and Connectivity. "Broadcom is delivering a highly integrated, power-efficient processor to enable the rapid adoption of BYOD and demand for 5G WiFi in the enterprise."

A Linux Development Kit (LDK), reference designs and standard open source software tools reduce engineering development and time-to-market
Freescale’s QorIQ communications processors have been selected to power solutions for eight of the top 10 manufacturers of enterprise wireless access point equipment, and the company sees a key WLAN growth driver in the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon. This requires enterprise and service provider networks to manage known users, as well as network guests who may not have the same privileges to access sensitive content.

These access and quality of service (QoS) challenges, together with the demanding performance requirements of gigabit-rate 802.11ac technology and increasing access issues stemming from the introduction of myriad personal wireless devices into the network, combine to present daunting challenges to WLAN equipment OEMs and network administrators.

The platform runs on symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) Linux using the multicore QorIQ P1020 communications processor, lowering CPU utilization and providing optimal performance for differentiation within application-level software.

“Freescale’s 802.11ac WLAN reference platform delivers the processing headroom to support real-world applications while driving impressive 802.11ac performance,” said Tareq Bustami, vice president of product management for Freescale’s Digital Networking business. “By offloading processing-intensive application identification tasks at the wireless network's edge, the platform helps dramatically reduce centralised 40 Gbps link bottlenecks, thereby enabling optimised and balanced network loading.”

The QorIQ communications processors are aimed at SoHo, SMB and enterprise 802.11n and 802.11ac applications. The QorIQ P1 processor family, which includes the P1010, P1020, P1022 and P1023 devices, offers extensive integration coupled with power-over-Ethernet-friendly performance per watt for a wide variety of WLAN applications. The family offers dual-and single-core solutions based on Power Architecture technology for the 400 MHz to 1.2 GHz performance range, along with advanced security features and cost-optimised packaging. With the QorIQ P1 family aimed at WLAN access points.

Broadcom’s BCM58522 Series is now sampling with volume production slated for Q413. A complete reference platform including the BCM58522 Series and Broadcom 5G WiFi devices is also now available.