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ARM makes NFV reference platform move, virtualizes set-top box

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Silicon vendor ARM has unveiled its foray into the world of network functions virtualization (NFV) with the first ARM-based reference platform for the open platform for NFV (OPNFV) group, working closely with Linux specialist vendor Enea. It has also announced a virtualized set-top box solution.

The Cambridge-based Silicon vendor reckons its reference platform will bring previously unachievable and unique value to NFV, claiming it will deliver enhanced processing efficiency, and cross-platform flexibility and choice. VP of embedded marketing at ARM, Charlene Marini, reckons ARM’s entrance signals a kick-start for the NFV movement.

“This is a tremendous leap forward in delivering the NFV vision across a wide range of highly-integrated, workload-optimised ARM-based networking SoCs, available via the common OpenDataPlane (ODP) interface layer,” she said. “This application-ready platform is also the enabling layer for the Intelligence Flexible Cloud framework that will transform network infrastructure over the next decade.”

By working with Enea, which specialises in Linux and open software solutions, the reference platform is intended to support a carrier-grade NFV infrastructure based on a set of VNF applications sitting on top of what ARM describes as the Linux-based building blocks of the platform, i.e. OpenStack, OpenDaylight, Open vSwitch, KVM and ODP.

A number of ARM’s ecosystem partners have said how chuffed they are with the announcement of the reference platform, including AMD, Cavium and Freescale. The director of the OPNFV group, Heather Kirksey, has said the announcement will ultimately end up benefitting users by affording them more choice.

“OPNFV is focused on fostering and strengthening a strong open ecosystem with a wide variety of hardware architectures and environments,” she said. “We are excited for initiatives like the ARM-based reference platform for the OPNFV integration project as it provides more choices for users.”

Meanwhile, ARM’s also been busy elsewhere in the NFV space, by working closely with Applied Micro and Netzyn to define and demonstrate a virtual set-top box reference platform at the NFV World Congress in California. The platform builds upon the work done in the ETSI NFV ISG’s 31st proof of concept, “STB Virtualization in Carrier Networks”.

The intended outcome of the reference platform is to deliver traditional STB/DVR services from the cloud, direct onto users’ televisions and connected devices, foregoing the need for physical equipment in the premises or home. As a consequence, new services can be delivered to end-users more quickly, capex and opex are reduced somewhat and ARPU goes up, ARM claims.

“Pay-TV subscribers care about rich user interfaces (UIs) with responsive performance,” said Karthik Ranjan, ARM’s director of operator relations. “Migrating STB functionality from a standalone box to a remote server talking directly with your TV saves significant cost, energy and materials with no material impact on UI performance. vSTBs will enable operators to increase ARPU through enabling new services on the TV faster while reducing their overall OpEx by utilising cloud computing and low-latency networks.”


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