Getting Smart About Knowledge-Based Processors: A Primer on KBPs

We live in a world today where people are connected around the clock. So it should come as no surprise that the number of connected devices – as well as the content, apps and services we consume on them – is exploding every year.

The global smartphone market alone is expected to reach 1.1 billion devices by the end of 2012, a 43 percent increase from 2011, according to research firm Canalys. By 2016, that number is expected to jump to 2.5 billion.

All of these connections have spurred the growth of data centers capable of handling the increased demands for bandwidth – but virtual traffic jams persist. That’s where knowledge-based processors step in to help alleviate the slowdowns.

At the most basic level, knowledge-based processors, or KBPs, are network processors that power search engines and accBroadcom's Knowledge Based Processorselerate speed and performance. Some of the newest KBPs, however, go beyond core functionality to hone in on improving one crucial aspect of Internet traffic: network searches.

According to Rajagopal Krishnaswamy, Associate Product Line Director for Broadcom’s Processors and Wireless Infrastructure group, KBPs allow data centers to handle more complex search requests by integrating associated data for search functionality and driving lower system latency.

“This new generation of KBPs returns the results in the same guaranteed amount of time, regardless of what you’re searching for, how complex it is,” he said.

Today, Broadcom introduced the world’s first 28 nanometer (nm) heterogeneous KBPs, a solution that upgrades performance in routers, switches, service gateways, security appliances and mobile infrastructure equipment by integrating knowledge-based processing hardware with NetRoute search technology for faster performance at lower power. In fact, Broadcom’s new KBPs serve up searches up to 24 times faster than current processors, while using less power.

The 28nm KBP launch is the third product launch in recent months that tap into the technologies that Broadcom has integrated since the February 2012 acquisition of NetLogic Microsystems.  And it surely won’t be the last.

Already, there are talks about what’s next for KPBs. The growth of network services in wired/wireless infrastructure and data center equipment, coupled with emerging trends such as Software Defined Networking and Open Flow, are driving the need for what KPBs can deliver: increased classification, forwarding and security processing.

Only time will tell exactly how the convergence of demands on data center, enterprise networks and service providers will shape the next generation of technology – but in the meantime, forward-looking solutions like KBPs will prepare us for the network demands of tomorrow.

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About the Author

Isa Loundon is Public Relations Manager for the Infrastructure and Networking Group at Broadcom. She cut her teeth in marketing at the SaaS provider IntraLinks and at a boutique PR agency for software… More

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