October 24, 2016
Marvell Technology has announced a set of Ethernet switches and transceivers designed to help data center operators move to 25 Gigabit Ethernet.
The market for the chips might be relatively small, conscribed as they are to 25G data center applications, Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL) notes, but the company believes it has the potential to dominate the niche because it believes it is the only supplier optimizing silicon specifically for those applications.
Data center operators need to upgrade from standard 10G connections. They have the option to jump straight to 100G, but even with soaring demand for bandwidth, a jump that big and expensive is more than some want to take.
For those who don't need to make such a leap, the options include the well-mapped path to 40G and the new alternative to upgrade to 25G. Marvell and other advocates of the latter choice argue that 25G offers more than double the throughput at a cost that is very close to the cost of 10G -- much less than 40G.
Marvell has been sampling the latest generation of its Prestera switches (the ninth) and Alaska Ethernet transceivers for a few months now.
Want to know more about communications ICs? Check out our comms chips channel
here on Light Reading. The Prestera 98CX84xx family is designed to be used in the most common top of rack (ToR) port configurations. The company said these devices are enabling data centers to get below 1W per 25G port in ToR applications. That allows more power to be used for compute and storage resources in the data center, Marvell explains, reducing overall power and cooling costs. Marvell said the Prestera switches support software-defined networking (SDN) with the integration of Open Computing Project (OCP) switch abstraction interface (SAI) application program interfaces (APIs). Marvell provides an OpenSwitch driver plug-in that facilitates integration with the OpenSwitch application stack, the company explained. The Prestera 98CX84xx switches are also supported by software solutions for the data center, such as IP Infusion. The Alaska C 88X5123 Ethernet transceiver is a 40G Ethernet to 25G Ethernet gearbox device. Pending the introduction of 25G NICs, Marvell's new transceivers enable a 40GbE stream to be translated to a 25G Ethernet stream, enabling data centers to run native 25G on existing 40G server NIC (network interface card) controllers. Forward error correction is integrated. The company claims these are the first PHYs announced that comply with IEEE 25G specs. Marvell is righting itself after taking more than a year to resolve an accounting flub that led the company to miss filing several quarterly returns. Over the summer, the company finally caught up, and in September issued its regularly scheduled second quarter report. The company reported double-digit growth in most of its target markets. The stock has been buoyed in recent weeks by positive ratings from various analysts, including an upgrade from Credit Suisse at the end of last week. — Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading
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