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A programmable state machine architecture for packet processing

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2 Author(s)

The Internet is expanding rapidly and constantly adding new protocols and features. To shorten the design cycle, many companies have adopted a common hardware platform for a variety of products. In these products, specialized packet processors tailored for packet processing handle multiple protocols and feature changes. A packet processor usually incorporates multiple RISC engines that are configurable as several instances of parallel processors, working simultaneously or in a pipelined fashion. In either approach, packet processors are complex and expensive. Packet processing has many levels of programmability requirements. Some tasks require only mild programmability and can't justify the use of a full-fledged packet processor. A finite scare machine (FSM), on the other hand, has high performance but cannot adapt to protocol changes. The solution is something in between: fast, programmable, but not as complicated as a packet processor. A programmable state machine (PSM) is such an idea.

Published in:

IEEE Micro  (Volume:23 ,  Issue: 4 )