back to article Fortinet fawns over fast-if-unfashionable ASIC

Fortinet is making hefty claims for its latest firewall release. In a world obsessed by squeezing performance out of virtualised functions running on white-box servers, the company is puffing its feathers over a new ASIC it says bestows Terabit-per-second performance on its biggest iron. The ASIC is dubbed NP6, a lower power …

Pint

ASICs

ASICs are unfashionable because it requires an accurate market assessment, a lot of development up front, and there is a risk of an extra design iteration blowing your budget. If you get it right, there are enviable space and power savings, and performance improvements. Much incremental development goes for the low risk quick win.

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Lust after this stuff

I have been following Xilinx forever, but even the FPGAs are a little pricey just to hack around with. I would *love* to have the time to prove stuff out with FPGAs and then have it burned into ASICs.

As @Caesarius says, there is a risky sunk cost with ASICs but the wins can be enormous. Nobody can come close in software to the performance of silicon.

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Silver badge

Re: Lust after this stuff

The cost of FPGAs are insignificant when used only for product development. After developing the hardware in the FPGA, you can build a few prototypes using them to field-test, and it costs virtually nothing to make incremental changes - hardware updates are distributed and implemented in the same way as firmware updates. This greatly improves time to market, because you can develop your hardware almost empirically. Once your hardware is running correctly and reliably in the field, you can invest in an ASIC to bring the unit cost down for mass production. Sure, you need to do some simulation and testing to ensure that the logic will not suffer from race conditions etc., but that is nothing compared with the exhaustive specifications, simulations and test vector generation required to design an ASIC based product completely from scratch.

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Re: Lust after this stuff

Migration from a logic design implemented on an FPGA to ASIC can require itself a lot of effort, even if you're starting off with behavioural level , technology independent VHDL and synthesis.

You also need to invest a lot of effort in simulations of the ASIC, both functional and ideally fault simulations.

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Re: Lust after this stuff

First used Xilinx back in 1991, wonderful tech, albeit a bit slow then.

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Black Helicopters

Fortinet NOT good.

Here in the US Fortinet runs a lot of company VPN's. One of those I have experience with is the public wifi from Wendy's. The sad truth is that they load an UNsigned https certificate to your system. This is before they even allow you to reach the T&C click through. This mean that all of your secure traffic is open to surveillance by their servers or anyone they report to. BTW there is no requirement for this in our laws (yet) or others would also be doing so as well.

Maybe they need the new speed to keep up with the snooping requested by the NSA.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Fortinet NOT good.

strange, that was my first thought too...

P.

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