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Express Logic’s NETX TCP/IP Stack Achieves 8.5 Gbps in Sony Multicore Network Throughput Benchmarks

Embedded Systems Conference, Boston, MA (October 27, 2008)

Express Logic, Inc., the leader in royalty-free real-time operating systems (RTOS), today announced the stunning results achieved by Sony Corporation engineers using Express Logic’s NETX™ TCP/IP network stack and THREADX® RTOS. The paper “Network Processing on an SPE Core in Cell Broadband Engine™,” recently presented at the 16th IEEE Symposium on High Performance Interconnects reports that Express Logic’s NETX and THREADX RTOS achieved near-wire speeds reaching 8.5 Gbps, surpassing what they were able to achieve using Linux.

The Cell Broadband Engine™ is a multicore system on a chip developed by Sony, IBM and Toshiba. It is composed of a Power Processing Element (PPE) which is a processor core with a PowerPC instruction set architecture and eight Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs). The SPEs are SIMD instruction set processors with 256-KB of local storage (LS). With a clock speed of 3.2 GHz, the Cell Broadband Engine has a theoretical peak computational performance of 230.4 GFlop/s (single-precision floating point).

Sony’s engineers considered using Linux for their TCP/IP transfers. But Linux standard protocol stacks have large memory footprints that exceed the 256KB SPE memory size. Sony engineers had to make extensive modifications to port to the SPE, and they found that even the full processing power of the PPE was insufficient to attain the maximum bandwidth on a 10-Gbps Ethernet. They opted therefore to use a protocol stack designed for embedded applications—Express Logic’s NETX running on the THREADX RTOS. NETX, a small, fast, commercial real-timeTCP/IP stack, supports fast UDP and TCP transfers, yet at under 30KB, it fits well within the 256KB confines of SPE local memory.

As Sony’s engineers reported in the paper, “We implemented a network protocol stack on one of these SPEs. On this single SPE, we operated the protocol stack NETX, developed for embedded applications, and the microkernel THREADX required for its operation. Both were manufactured by Express Logic. In addition there are communication interfaces enabling the protocol-stack-driven SPE to be accessed from device drivers and other processors. As a result, we achieved a TCP performance of 8.5 Gbps for 3-KB packet sizes using a single SPE operating at 3.2 GHz. This result indicates a competitive network protocol processing performance, considering that we employed a processor designed for a variety of computational applications rather than a dedicated network processor, and demonstrates the potential of the application of SPEs in this field.”

“We are thrilled that Sony’s engineers elected to use our NETX TCP/IP stack and our THREADX RTOS in this research project,” commented William E. Lamie, president of Express Logic. “But even more satisfying is the outstanding performance. This underscores the efficiency of NETX and its potential for demanding networking applications, such as Internet gaming and home entertainment.”

The paper was presented at the 16th IEEE Symposium on High-Performance Interconnects (“Hot Interconnects”) in August, 2008 at Stanford University. The authors—Sony engineers Yuji Kawamura, Takeshi Yamazaki, Tatsuya Ishiwata, Kazuyoshi Horie, and Hiroshi Kyusojin—represent Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc., and Sony’s Technology Development Group, both based in Tokyo, Japan.

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