You may or may not have heard of Amazon's acquisition of tech company Annapurna Labs last year for roughly $350 million. You may also be aware of their Alpine SOCs, fairly high-performance chipsets mainly meant for IoT, routers, gateways and the like. These high-spec, open-source friendly chips have already wound up in a number of consumer devices, including NETGEAR's ReadyNAS 214. The chips come in configurations up to quad core, with up to 2MB of L2 cache, rivaling some of the most powerful mobile chips on the scene. Support for DDR4 RAM is also on board. Able to run proprietary software and drivers as well as lightweight Linux-based backends, the Alpine chips can be put into just about any device in need of a processor and, given correct coding for the drivers, simply work. Annapurna announced yesterday that the powerful, adaptable and widely praised chips will no longer be available through contract means only and can be bought, along with helpful documentation, by any OEM.
These chips are capable of on-the-fly video encoding and decoding for media center and media server applications, as well as video streaming and virtualization, making them more than viable for NAS gateways, media servers, smart TVs and the like. Security features are baked in for most functions, allowing for secure storage of files and code, as well as secure execution of the same. The chips' lightweight backends and low power requirements in some configurations also make them ideal for smart home setups and IoT devices. PCIe Gen3 and up to 10 gigabit Ethernet are on board, allowing Alpine chips to be a powerful and reliable heart for just about any smart system.
Fast input and output, open-source compatibility and support for tons of advanced features have OEMs singing Alpine's praises left and right. NETGEAR, QNAP Systems and Synology, all users of the Alpine SOCs in their own products, have spoken highly of the Alpine chip and Annapurna labs in general in the past, saying that the architecture is easy to use and that the products are powerful and reliable. Kind words were flung around regarding the system's price, as well. With sales opening up, these chips are bound to end up in more devices than ever before and the potential to provide a real push for open source as a dominant force in the burgeoning IOT market should not be overlooked.