Telecom is in a state of turmoil as we make the transition from circuit-based to packet-based networks. Multiple competing technologies, protocols, and architectures in a number of application areas are stretching telecom equipment manufacturers’ resources, while the fragmentation in the market is
undermining the business case for semiconductor vendors’ continued support of application areas, such
as packet transport and switching. What strategies can telecom equipment manufacturers adopt to succeed in this environment?

This paper describes SOFTSILICON, a standard chip solution that can be re-programmed to accommodate adaptations, customizations, and field upgrades. It combines the pre-defined feature set and low-risk advantages of ASSPs with the flexibility advantages of NPUs, but for a broad set of functions, rather than just packet processing.