Freescale’s network processor division has announced it will begin offering ARM-based system-on-chip (SoC) products for networking applications. Although Freescale has offered the i.MX series of ARM-based SoCs for many years, and Kinetis ARM-based microcontrollers, those have been designed for markets with lower on-core processing requirements, such as consumer or mobile devices. The new announcement comes in an area which until now has been dominated by designs containing “high-performance” PowerPC cores, typically accompanied by specialized on-chip hardware blocks to accelerate intensive tasks like decryption. Freescale swears up and down that it will continue “designing and supporting” PowerPC-based processors for a decade or longer, but many observers believe the relevance of the small PowerPC ecosystem will diminish rapidly. The new ARM-based network processors are expected to begin sampling in mid-2013.

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