Networking specialist Cavium has announced the release of two new OCTEON III 64-bit multicore families based on the MIPS64 architecture.

The press release from Cavium mentions multiple quad-core CN72XX and 16-core CN73XX parts targeting mid-range applications (networking, security, storage devices, wireless and integrated routers, etc.) that require superior compute and packet performance. Specifications include:

  • Best in class compute performance in a compact 37.5mm form-factor
    • From four to 16 cores at up to 2.2 GHz
    • Single (CN72XX) or dual (CN73XX) 72-bit DDR3/4 controllers
  • Ultra-high networking and security performance
    • 40 Gbps of  application processing
    • 22 SERDES supporting 1G/10G/40GbE, PCIe v3, SATA 3.0
  • Extremely low power consumption, with configurations starting as low as 8W
  • Powerful application acceleration for security, DPI, compression, packet processing
  • Fully software compatible with entire OCTEON III processor line enabling scalable solutions spanning 1 to 48 cores

All OCTEON III multi-threaded processors feature multiple 64-bit cnMIPS cores that implements hardware virtualization based on Release 5 of the MIPS architecture. MIPS-based hardware virtualization dramatically improves the efficiency and availability of resources in power-stringent applications such as IoT, automotive, mobile, networking and many others.

Cavium Octeon III MIPS64 networking processorsCavium OCTEON III

In addition, CPU virtualization constitutes one of the several layers on which our OmniShield security technology is built on; you can read more about the use of virtualization in the context of hardware- and software-assisted security here.

MIPS virtualization has the unique ability to scale efficiently from tiny 32-bit microcontrollers to high-end 64-bit enterprise processors. MIPS-based SoCs that support Release 5 hardware virtualization include Altair FourGee-1150/6401 Cat 0 LTE chips, Standing Egg sensor fusion hubs, Mobileye EyeQ4 ADAS SoCs or Baikal-T1 and Broadcom XLP II networking processors.

New modules for embedded computing and OpenWrt support

Earlier this month Cavium also introduced a range of Computers-on-Module (COMs) based on the OCTEON III CN70XX/71XX 64-bit multicore processors. These COMs target general purpose embedded computing markets, including industrial, military and aerospace applications.


Designed to function in extreme conditions, these new modules come in three form factors: COM Express Compact (95mm x 95mm), COM Express Mini (84mm x 55mm), and Qseven (70mm x 70mm). Features include a rich set of I/Os interfaces, eMMC onboard storage, DDR3 memory and a complete software package built around the Cavium OCTEON SDK and Monta Vista carrier-grade Linux.

On the software side, Cavium announced an optimized version of OpenWRT for OCTEON III processors used in high-end retail/SMB routers; here is an extract from the initial announcement:

The feature-rich OpenWRT software package is performance-optimized for the Cavium CN71XX router/gateway reference board and will be included free of charge in the Router Reference Design Kit (RDK). This will enable ODMs/OEMs to significantly shorten hardware and software design cycles while delivering best-in-class home/SMB wireless routers and security appliance products. Optimized to leverage Cavium OCTEON III acceleration engines, the OpenWRT for OCTEON offers more CPU headroom for customized services, thereby reducing system costs. Compared to software-only solutions, the Cavium hardware acceleration enables line rate performance using far less CPU resource, 3 times better OpenVPN performance and 18 times better OpenSSL performance.

Two major designs wins announced at COMPUTEX

At COMPUTEX Taipei, Cavium told us about two strategic design wins for the MIPS64-based OCTEON III family.

Cavium-SanJoseCavium HQ in San Jose, California

First up, DSL powerhouse ZyXEL announced it would deploy Cavium OCTEON III processors in a wide range of SMB security and switch applications, making all next-generation ZyXEL UTM gateways and 12 and 24-port 10G Ethernet switch applications MIPS64-based.

Secondly, Wi-Fi technology company Xirrus will use OCTEON III entry-level products for the Wave 2 family of single- and multiple-radio 802.11ac access points.

MIPS64 momentum and the complete OCTEON III family

A snapshot of recently-announced Cavium offerings reveals the growing momentum behind MIPS64 in networking and connectivity applications. Customers can choose from over a dozen OCTEON III products, including:

  • CN70xx and CN71xx (CN7010, CN7010, CN7120, CN7125, CN7130) entry-level processors scale from one to four cnMIPS III cores
  • CN72xx and CN73xx mid-range processors scale from four to 16 cnMIPS III cores
  • CN77xx (CN7760, CN7770) and CN78xx (CN7870, CN7880, CN7890) high-end processors scale from 16 to 48 cnMIPS III cores
  • CNF75xx and CNF74xx single chip Fusion-M solutions for use in macrocells and smart radio heads

The OCTEON III family is a wonderful example of the growing momentum behind MIPS64, the industry’s most popular and widely deployed 64-bit CPU architecture. MIPS CPUs offer truly differentiating features like hardware virtualization, multithreading and advanced security that are applicable to a wide range of markets.

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