In previous blog postings, I have written about the myth that networking systems must rely on special-purpose ASICs or network processors, and I have pondered what will be achievable as MIPS become more and more free. Today, ZDNet posted a story discussing Intel's stated direction to deliver processors with 80 or more cores. While not here today, this represents a huge jump in commodity computing performance. What's interesting is that the article suggests an idea that I have had for a while: what if instead of having 80 x86 cores, you instead had 50 x86 cores along with 30 specialty cores? Some of those specialty cores could perform crypto operations, perhaps, or rapid pattern matching for anti-virus, anti-spam, or intrusion detection and prevention functions. Today, there are already x86-compatible processors from VIA Technologies that contain hardware crypto acceleration operations.
As you can see, the possibilities are quite limitless for commodity technology. Thankfully, Vyatta will be delivering software that will help take advantage of these technology advances to run your networks faster, for less money, and with the freedom of open-source.