An Apples to Oranges Comparision of a Gigabit Ethernet PHY to a General-Purpose CPU

Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition i980EE Broadcom BCM54980
Type 6 core CPU 8 port Gigabit PHY
Geometry 32nm 90nm
Operations Per Second 127 Billion instructions per second 4,800 Billion operations per second
Power 130W 4.0W
Operations Per Watt 976 Million Ops/W 1.2 Trillion Ops/W

Of course, this is an unfair comparison, but it shows you:
1) how much processing power goes into PHY (physical layer) products
2) how specializing a chip for a particular task can increase the number of computations per second
3) how ASICs can reduce power for certain applications over a general-purpose architecture by running an algorithm hard-wired rather than in software

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