Network transformation continues to accelerate the pace of IT change, and today’s distributed networks have redefined the cybersecurity landscape. Zero-trust network access (ZTNA) is increasingly a foundational requirement for enterprises, where users, applications, and services are explicitly untrusted and every access request must be individually authorized and validated. Architects must now update older hub-and-spoke models—where all access was funneled through centralized security services—with distributed security topologies.
IT is transitioning from single-function monolithic security and networking devices to open solutions running on generalpurpose hardware. Traditionally, specialized hardware and software stacks were optimized for specific network and security functions such as routers, VPNs, and firewalls. The role-specific proprietary devices were expensive and inflexible, without the ability to share headroom when responding to dynamic traffic changes. Single-function devices also tended to create management silos that created operational inefficiencies.
Modern cloud-native network functions (CNFs) deliver networking and security capabilities as virtualized software entities, centrally orchestrated across the environment. This topology enhances efficiency and agility, with distributed security functions protecting workloads as they pass among on-premises, hosted, and public-cloud infrastructure. Intel Atom processors deliver features and performance matching legacy single-purpose solutions, including for edge implementations constrained by physical size and extreme temperatures.
Introducing the Intel Atom C5000, P5300, and P5700 Processors
Intel Atom processors are available with a broad range of core counts and hardware features to support different edge use cases. Advanced microarchitectures based on 10nm process technology and a robust set of accelerators combine to deliver high per-core performance and advanced packet processing. The platforms are based on energy efficient system-on-chip (SoC) form factors with integrated Intel® Ethernet and Intel® QuickAssist Technology (Intel QAT), ensuring high performance per watt for network edge implementations.
The flexibility of these open standards platforms is enhanced by Intel’s unmatched software and solution ecosystem. Software compatibility across Intel architecture enables solutions to scale upward using Intel® Xeon® D and Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors.
Power-Optimized for Networking and Storage: Intel Atom C5000 SoCs
The Intel Atom C5000 processor series includes the Intel Atom C5100 series processors for storage and the Intel Atom C5300 processors for networking. Both include 4 to 8 cores and feature integrated Intel QAT Gen2, which is capable of 10 to 20 Gbps look-aside encryption throughput. The Intel Atom C5000 processors are socket-compatible with the Intel Atom P5300 and P5700 SoCs to enhance platform upgradeability.
- Intel Atom C5100 processors support storage applications for on-premises physical storage appliances that serve the small and midsize business (SMB) segment. They have a thermal design power (TDP) of 42 to 50 watts, no integrated Ethernet, and commercial temperature range operation.
- Intel Atom C5300 processors are built for networking applications, have a TDP of 32 to 41 watts, and include both extended and commercial temperature options, enabling the choice of processor SKU to be tailored to the implementation scenario.
Performance-Optimized: Intel Atom P5300 SoCs
Intel Atom P5300 processors are based on 8 to 24 cores and operate with a TDP of 55 to 85 watts. The platform is engineered to provide power-efficient computing for implementations such as network and security appliances or SD-WAN points of presence (POPs). It integrates Intel QAT Gen3, which is capable of driving 100 Gbps of crypto and 70 Gbps of compression, and supports extended temperature operation.
Performance-Optimized with Integrated Switch: Intel Atom P5700 SoCs
Intel Atom P5700 processors provide 8 to 20 cores, a power envelope of 48 to 75 watts, and extended temperature operation. The eight-port switch integrated into the Intel Atom P5700 processors provides a sophisticated 100 or 200 GbE programmable packet-processing pipeline and packet classifiers for advanced traffic management. This class of functionality is typically associated with higher-end network switches. Integrating the hardware resources into the SoC package provides cost and space efficiencies comparable to an external switch.
The integrated switch enables inline crypto, which can dramatically reduce latency in network security implementations, compared to the look-aside model used in Intel Atom C5000 and P5300 processors. In the look-aside model, the Ethernet complex transfers all incoming data to system memory, where the CPU makes the decision about which packets to offload to the Intel QAT hardware. While this approach is appropriate for asynchronous usages such as bulk cryptography, it incurs latency that is incompatible with real-time workflows such as IPsec.
Intel Atom P5700 processors apply switching functionality and Intel QAT Gen3 to support inline IPsec. The Intel QAT hardware communicates directly with the Ethernet controller to decide which packets to process and which to pass on to the processor, reducing CPU-bound operations in the data path. This refactoring of traffic and workload handling accelerates authentication and encryption tasks and improves VPN tunneling performance.
Platform Accelerations for Security, Networking, and Storage1
Intel Atom C5000, P5300, and P5700 processor SKUs provide customers with tailored solutions for specific requirements. Optimizations based on the data plane development kit (DPDK) offload TCP packet processing from the kernel to user-space processes. This workload redirection avoids the performance impacts of CPU interrupts, driving up compute efficiency and network throughput.
DPDK is a key enabling technology for Intel Atom platforms to converge the data plane with a single architecture to handle diverse packet-processing workloads. This standardization replaces legacy approaches that required many different (often custom) silicon components such as NPUs and ASICs. Intel Atom platforms utilize a combination of platform ingredients, software optimizations, and ecosystem support to accelerate packet processing.
- Intel Dynamic Load Balancer (Intel DLB) handles millions of queue-management operations per second to efficiently distribute network processing across CPU cores, with dynamic load balancing as traffic levels vary. Managing network queues in hardware frees up processor cycles traditionally consumed by software-based queueing.
- Intel Ethernet 800 Series technology integrated into the SoC provides up to 100 Gbps of throughput, with link options from 1GbE to 100GbE and support for advanced traffic handling features across packet types. Intel Ethernet 800 series is integrated into the Intel Atom C5300, P5300, and P5700 processors.
- Intel Network Acceleration Complex (NAC) enables highperformance Ethernet I/O and switching with accelerated inline packet processing and an enhanced scheduler, for higher throughput with security functions such as authentication and encryption/decryption.
- Intel QAT accelerates symmetric and asymmetric encryption as well as lossless compression in hardware, freeing up CPU resources for other work. Intel QAT Gen3, supported by the Intel Atom P5300 and P5700 processors, offers the latest algorithms and increased throughput over Intel QAT Gen2, which is supported by the Intel Atom C5000 processors.
- Intel QuickData Technology enables data copy by the chipset instead of the CPU, to move data more efficiently through the server and provide fast, scalable, and reliable throughput.
To flexibly support networking, security acceleration, and storage use cases, Intel Atom processors provide a range of hardware features and other resources.