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Network processor and its uses

Article contributed by Mr. Hem Chandra Joshi, Assistant Professor, Amrapali Institute of Technology and Sciences

Since in Current networking Situation Data rates are increasing, Protocols are becoming more dynamic and complicated and Protocols are being introduced more rapidly so traditional GP (General-purpose Processor), ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) are not optimized for networking applications

A network processor is an integrated circuit which includes a feature set specifically targeted at the networking application domain .Network processors are typically software programmable devices and would have generic characteristics  same as general purpose central process units that are usually employed in various types of equipment and products. Network processors have evolved into ICs with specific functions. This evolution has resulted in more flexible and more complex ICs being created. The newer circuits allow a single hardware IC design to undertake  variety of various functions where the appropriate software is installed since they are programmable A Network processor  executes programs to handle packets in a data network, network processors are used in the manufacture of many different types of network equipment like router, software routers and switches, Firewalls, Session border controllers, Intrusion detection devices, Intrusion prevention devices and Network monitoring systems

Some latest network processor

Marvell’s Xelerated

Marvell’s Xelerated family of network processors is AN integral piece of the next-generation network. Designed for carrier LAN platforms for unified fiber access, mobile backhaul, railway LAN, packet-optical transport, as well as  switching systems in cloud computing environments, the Xelerated product modify wealthy services at competitive worth points.

Cisco nPower™ X1

The Internet of Everything would require extremely advanced silicon innovation and it begins today with the launch of the world’s most scalable and programmable network processor, the Cisco nPower™ X1. With quite 4 billion transistors, this highly integrated 400 Gbps throughput single-chip will enable Terabit class solutions

Broadcom hits 100Gbps network processor

Broadcom fourth generation LAN network processor, the BCM88030, achieves full-duplex 100 Gbps performance courtesy of a massively parallel design supported sixty four packet process cores, every running at 1GHz. the company says four of the elements might be enclosed in a line card to attain 400 Gbps performance

Where are network processors used?

A network processor is used in a network traffic manager, which is placed between a network interface and a switch fabric in a switcher/router. The traffic manager decides where, when, and how incoming and outgoing data will be sent next. It strips, adds, and modifies packet headers. It also makes routing and schedule decisions. The traffic manager has interfaces to the network and to the switch fabric. In Figure these are labeled PHY (physical interface) and CSIX (common switch interface) respectively

Early traffic managers were build around a general purpose processor (GPP). The GPP was support by a direct memory access controller (DMAC) and simple I/O devices. Traffic was transfer in protocol data units (PDUs) between memory and the switch fabric or network interface.

This new architecture modified as network speed outpaced processor and bus speed. The switch fabric interface and network interface were integrated into a single application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) to allow PDUs to be transferred without passing over the system bus

This new design meant that management of individual PDUs was delegated to the ASIC. . The ASIC ran hard-wired network protocols. It passed the majority of traffic through, transferring to the GPP only those PDUs involved in control or signaling, or those that required unusual processing. Network processors are designed to switch the fixed-function ASIC, adding software programmability to wire speed processing

Conclusion and future scope

Network  processor have an important role in networking as we know Configure a router for existing or new network is very tedious job so to avoid manual process again and again we can use programmed  network processor in router so it Can automatically configured

Now a days we are trying to use IPV6 in place of IPV4 so the number of user increasing tremendously so maintain and update configure of router is not so easy if we Use a programmed network processor in router it becomes much easy


1– Jianhua Huang “Network processor design” ASIC 5th international conference (volume 1) on 21-24 Oct 2003.

2– M. Coss and R. Sharp, “The network processor decision” in Bell Labs Technical Journal, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 177-189, 2004, doi: 10.1002/bltj.20012.

3-Sanchita Vishwa and Rajeshwari M. Hegde “Optimization of network processor microarchitecture” in International Journal of Electrical, Electronics and Data Communication, ISSN(p): 2320-2084, ISSN(e): 2321-2950 Volume-7, Issue-4, Apr.-2019

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