Telco Systems Teams with Arm


By: Michael Vizard

Network function virtualization (NFV) and related software-defined networking software is on its way to the edge following the formation of a strategic alliance announced this week between Telco System and Arm, the manufacturer of processors used in everything from Internet of Things (IoT) devices to smartphones.

New chip architectures are important to the development of NFV and devices such as universal customer premise equipment (uCPE), which allows customers to connect to the network on commodity hardware, because of the requirements for high power efficiency at edge of the network. Arm chips have grown in importance because of their reputation for power efficiency, which makes them especially suitable to IoT and edge networking devices.

Under the terms of the alliance, Telco Systems is committing over the next several years to commercialize several existing prototypes of uCPE devices based on NXP and Marvell system-on-chips (SoCs) as well as service-ready uCPE and NFV Edge solutions. Arm is making an unspecified investment in Telco Systems to fund those efforts.

Telco Systems is also committing to develop performance acceleration solutions based on Arm processors and SOCs, an effort to run virtual network Functions as a set of containers, and creating cybersecurity offerings that leverage Arm TrustZone, which embed cryptography into a SoC. Telco systems already delivers NFVTime, a uCPE, on Arm processors.

The two companies going forward will extend collectively will combine their technologies to address emerging IoT, network edge and mobile edge computing (MEC).

The alliance with Arm will mean that Telco Systems will be able to uniquely provide a set of networking offerings spanning both Intel x86 and Arm processors, says Telco Systems CEO Ariel Efrati. Being able to run on Arm processors will be critical in environment where cost and performance are significant factors, says Efrati.

“Cost is a key element that limits a lot of use potential use cases,” says Efrati.

An epic battle between Intel and rivals such as Arm is already playing out across the carrier landscape. It’s clear there is an opportunity to deploy a wide range of types of application workloads at both the network edge and on devices connected to those networks. The core issue for those workloads is access to inexpensive and power efficient multicore processors deployed by the millions.

Of course, Arm isn’t going to turn away other providers of networking software simply because it invested in Telco. But many builders of that networking software may wonder what Arm is sharing with Telco Systems at an engineering level.

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