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Cortex-A9 SoC targets Linux NAS devices and 802.11ac routers

Jun 4, 2013 — by Eric Brown 4,783 views

Broadcom announced a system-on-chip designed for network attached storage (NAS) devices and 802.11ac routers, supported by a Linux development kit. The StrataGX BCM5862x Series combines a single- or dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor with a Cortex-R5 based “FlexSPARX” ARM core designed to accelerate storage performance, and features a cryptographic accelerator and dual 6Gbps SATA interfaces.

The StrataGX BCM5862x is the latest in a Broadcom series of specialized StrataGX ARM SoCs, including a recent StrataGX BCM58525 networking processor. The BCM5862X instead focuses on NAS storage and routers, as do its earlier SOHO-focused BCM4708x and SMB-oriented BCM5301x models. The BCM5862x is faster than those models and offers a larger 512K L2 cache, among other improvements. They also offer 32KB I-cache and 32KB D-cache per core.

The BCM5862x SoC is designed to support the faster new 802.11ac WiFi flavor that some call “5G WiFi.” The processors can also support hybrid cloud services, says Broadcom.


FlexSPARX chip accelerates storage

The StrataGX BCM5862x starts with a single- or dual-core Cortex-A9 processor clocked to 1.2GHz, and then adds an ARM Cortex-R5 programmable packet accelerator, which includes its own local memory. This “FlexSPARX” engine, in Broadcom parlance, offloads storage processing from the Cortex-A9, and supports network protocols including RAID/XOR acceleration and CAPWAP/DTLS. A cryptographic accelerator is also supplied that supports line rate speeds.

Broadcom StrataGX BCM 5862x SoC architecture
(click image to enlarge)


The SoC is available in three flavors. The StrataGX BCM58622 and BCM58623, which appear to target the SOHO market, support 16-bit memory interfaces, while the SMB-focused BCM58625 model offers a 32-bit interface. All three can handle up to DDR3-1600 RAM.

The BCM58622 provides for device designs with a single SATA 3 interface while the BCM58623 and BCM58625 support two, and all three support SATA bandwidths of up to 6Gbps. It’s unclear which are single- or dual-core models, although it seems clear that at the very least the BCM58625 offers two cores.

All three processors offer a gigabit Ethernet switch and Gigabit Ethernet PHYs, as well as PCI Express connectivity for WiFi, says Broadcom. They also provide USB 3.0 connectivity. Other details were unavailable.

The StrataGX BCM5862x SoCs are offered with a Linux Development Kit (LDK), as well as reference designs and standard open source software tools, says Broadcom. Reference software is available to enable security acceleration for multimedia, says the company.

The BCM5862X Series is now sampling, with volume production slated for 4Q 2013. Broadcom will preview the technology at Computex in Taipei on June 4-8. More information may be found at the Broadcom BCM5862X Series page.

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