Engineering 101

Amazon to begin manufacturing branded platform-on-chip and subsystems

An Amazon company called Annapurna Labs has just announced that it will be manufacturing a new line of platform-on-chip and subsystems product line that will enable original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and service providers to develop digital services for home gateways, Wi-Fi routers, and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices.


With connected homes becoming more prevalent, service providers and OEMs are looking to design Wi-Fi routers, NAS, and gateways  to support a wide range of devices and rapidly deliver in-home services to consumers. In-home gateways and Wi-Fi routers tend to be limited by the lack of network and compute resources because the standard processor for an in-home networking or storage device has limited general-purpose compute capability and depends mostly on hardware acceleration and deep software optimizations to reach target performance.

Alpine will provide OEMs with  general–purpose compute, advanced storage interfaces, PCIe Gen3, and multimode Ethernet connectivity of up to 10G to allow Alpine-based products to support many devices with services needed in the connected home including storage management, multimedia, IoT management, and cloud connectivity. With enterprise-class performance and features like DDR4 and 2MB of L2 cache, Alpine enables service providers and OEMs to rapidly roll out new consumer services, leverage open source or third-party applications, and meet performance demands without the need for hardware acceleration or custom software optimizations.


“In the fast-growing home application marketplace, new use cases and consumer needs are rapidly invented and adopted. To stay competitive, OEMs and service providers therefore need to quickly add support for the new features that give consumers the ability to enjoy the latest applications without changing hardware or waiting for months to get updated software,” said Gary Szilagyi, Vice President of Annapurna Labs. “Our Alpine platform-on-chip and subsystems product line gives service providers and OEMs a high-performance platform on which they can design hardware that will support growing consumer demands for innovative services, fast connectivity, and many connected devices.”

Annapurna maintains Alpine support in the Linux and FreeBSD open source projects. These standard open source operating systems allow third parties to easily run their applications and drivers on the Alpine platform and quickly qualify updated software on Alpine-based products. Multiple third party applications for the home segment run on the Alpine platform, including video streaming, security, and cloud connectivity. Drivers for components used in home devices have been ported and tested to run on Alpine including drivers for Wi-Fi chips, multimode Ethernet PHYs, and Ethernet switches.

The Alpine platform works with a variety of standard open source libraries and development models including Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK), OpenWRT, and open source hypervisor and container frameworks. Running DPDK on Alpine delivers 10G performance with low resource usage to enable high throughput on the network, while still running many services on the devices. Alpine platform’s support for common open-source hypervisor and container frameworks allows isolation of applications from critical networking and storage services enabling rapid application deployment and upgrades without impacting basic services.

Home gateway, Wi-Fi router, and NAS product designs based on Alpine are currently available from multiple original device manufacturers (ODMs) to give OEMs and service providers a choice of partners and to speed the development of new products and product refreshes. In addition, Annapurna offers a hardware development kit (HDK) for Alpine-based designs, which includes schematics files, layout files, thermal guidelines, and a bill of material (BoM). The HDK enables OEMs to leverage their own in-house resources, contract manufacturers, or other ODMs.

The Alpine platform is designed to bring enterprise-class reliability to the home by integrating thermal sensors, and parity/error correcting code (ECC) on internal buses, external buses, and memory. Further, Alpine provides power savings with configurable core power states, PCIe power states for on-chip components, and support for multiple wake up methods including Wake on LAN (WoL), wake on event, and wake on interrupt.

“There is significant growth in the home Wi-Fi segment with most of the demand occurring on high-performance routers. As a leading provider in this segment, we are committed to providing our customers with high performing solutions,” said Tenlong Deng, Vice President of ASUS Networking & Wireless Devices Business Unit. “The increased demand for new applications and use models requires additional compute and more flexibility. We are collaborating with Annapurna on these technologies and believe that they have one of the most advanced and flexible silicon solutions in the marketplace.”

“In the home network, consumers are asking for more services like media processing, HD video streaming, better security, and tighter integration of cloud services. Our router, gateway, and NAS product lines provide exceptional user experience and integrate many of the services needed by our customers,” said Richard Jonker, General Manager & Vice President at NETGEAR. “Our recently announced ReadyNAS 214 is based on Annapurna’s Alpine quad-core and packs in a rich set of services including PLEX media server with live transcoding capabilities, a private cloud for the home, 5 levels of security and a seamless backup solution for all connected devices. Using the Alpine quad core chip, we are able to run all of these services at very high performance. We like the Annapurna architecture and plan to collaborate with Annapurna on future projects.”

Source: Annapurna Labs

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