Marvell today is announcing their latest update to their switch and PHY lines in a major update. In the Marvell 2020 networking portfolio update, the company is integrating IP from its AQuantia acquisition and is looking to providing a full range of core to access switches and PHYs.
Marvell 2020 Networking Portfolio Update
We are going to use the images here since they have a lot of relevant information. Effectively, Marvell is looking to provide the silicon all the way from the edge to the core levels of the network. The core is not necessarily the hyper-scale switch chips since these only go up to 12.8Tbps levels. Broadcom is the biggest player in the merchant silicon switch chip space but Marvell is aiming to cover a broad set of the market with common features instead of different lines. Other companies, such as Innovium are pushing to 25.6T switches and scaling down in a similar common design, but they are not trying to scale all the way down to what Marvell considers “Access” switches from 28Gbps to 1.2Tbps of capacity.
PHYs are a big deal in this generation. We are starting to see more systems utilize 10GbE and 2.5GbE speeds, sometimes also opting for 5GbE. AQuantia has leading PHY and controller technology here so we see systems such as the Lenovo ThinkStation P620 utilizing the AQuantia NICs in their designs.
The Marvell Prestera line can be found in some Cisco Catalyst switches, but also scales down significantly. We can see them providing amazing value in switches we have reviewed such as the MikroTik CRS354-48G-4S+2Q+RM Review (and the PoE variant). Using Marvell Prestera, MikroTik is able to offer that form factor at an extremely low cost. With this generation, Marvell is focusing on feature and performance upgrades, especially looking to the ecosystem adopting 2.5GbE with a greater pace going forward, finally displacing 1GbE networking.
One of the key features of the Marvell networking portfolio is the ability to have a software stack and capabilities that run from the high-end to the lower-end units. Marvell had a few examples with the first being TrackIQ which helps provide a lot of the automation and diagnostic information about what is happening in a switch. When a single switch is managed, this may not seem important, but when there are networks of thousands of switches, automation becomes essential.
Marvell is highlighting their security such as secure boot and 256bit MACsec. These are features that Marvell is pushing more broadly in their portfolio than just today’s update. An example is that with 256bit MACsec instead of encrypting at the PHY, doing it across the chip means that the decrypted data does not pass between the PHY and the switch chip.
Since this 2020, and everything must have AI, NetIQ brings AI functionality. Marvell is embedding Arm cores into their switch chips to handle higher-level functionality, one potential use case is AI.
Our readers can read this slide, but since this is a networking announcement, we have obligatory SerDes and radix claims.
One that we wanted to talk about more is the software. Marvell has a SDK and APIs that are designed to make it easy to port software to Marvell and then have it work across their switch portfolio. There are other features such as pushing Dent and OCP SONiC from the open-source communities as those communities think about moving beyond hyper-scale data centers and what needs to be built to address enterprise and edge deployments.
Overall, new chips with new capabilities.
We asked Marvell about timelines. It seems like much of this will be shipping later this year. Realistically the Marvell 2020 networking portfolio update will have to pass OEM design, test, and certification which means that these are the products that will power products STH readers buy in 2021. While the 100GbE to 400GbE space is very interesting, the fact that Marvell is putting such an emphasis on 2.5GbE, along with companies like Intel starting to push the i225 2.5GbE NICs and AQuantia controllers finding their way into white box and major OEM designs may mean 2021 is finally the year we see these parts flip. We are already seeing the feature undocumented in some switches we review as well as even at a lower-level as we saw in our SFP+ to 10Gbase-T adapter module buyers guide. Perhaps 2021 will start to see the rapid decline of 1GbE in part because of these new switches and PHYs.