January 14, 2016, anysilicon
The semiconductor industry was a bit puzzled last year when Amazon acquired Annapurna Labs (Israel) for $350 million; the analysts believed that Amazon is planning to use Annapurna’s chips in its own data centers. But now it turns out that Amazon is taking advantage of the deal to enter the market and compete head-on with chipmakers.
Annapurna operates as a subsidiary of Amazon, under the name Annapurna Labs. Last week Amazon announced it was starting to sell the chip developed at Annapurna, named Alpine. This is a complete system-on-chip, based on the 32-bit ARMv7 architecture with an additional 64-bit ARMv8 with. It serves as a processor for communications routers, storage systems (Network Attached Storage), home automation systems, accessories, IoT and more.
Today’s home routers are limited because of the shortage of processing power, thus limiting the added value services that vendors can provide. In addition, it forces many customers to purchase additional devices to improve the level of connectivity, storage, media management in the home devices, the Internet and other media.
The company explained that this is because routers are home based on simple processor (CPU) and external hardware accelerators need very deep software optimization in order for them to meet the performance required by market.
Alpine chip tackles this problem by providing an array of resources that includes a quad-core CPU processing, storage network interfaces, PCIe Gen3 and 10Gbps Ethernet. In addition, it includes telecom-level subsystems, such as DDR4 memory and L2 cache of 2MB.
The new chip supports both Linux and FreeBSD. The open source community has been developing a large number of applications, such as video streaming, security, cloud connectivity and more.
The announcement came after the chip has been incorporated into various designs such as: Wi-Fi routers, NAS products and gateways.