While much of the market is focused on the newest and highest capacity switch chips, Marvell has a new line of switch chips designed for lower-power and speed edge and access deployments. In this article, we are going to discuss the Marvell Prestera 7K edge switch chips that launched recently.
Marvell Prestera 7K Edge and Access Switch Chip Launch
The new Marvell Prestera 7K switch chip line utilizes 50G PAM4. While in many data centers the focus is on high-density, these are meant for lower power and density. Not all devices have 100GbE ports, so moving to lower-density switches makes a lot of sense. This is especially true at the edge and lower-density data centers.
Marvell as a company has been moving behind Arm CPUs, the Prestera 7K line follows this trajectory with Arm CPU cores for embedded management. Something else that Marvell tends to highlight is the architecture common across its switches that helps speed network operating system vendors adopting the platform.
The four models are based on 25G and 50G SerDes with 300G to 1.6T of aggregate throughput. Just to give some sense of where Prestera line switch chips end up later in their lifecycles is in switches like the MikroTik CRS354-48G-4S+2Q+RM. That will not be for some time given the cost of these newer switches. Sill, for edge networks that have a number of 25GbE nodes (or aggregation for lower-speed nodes) the new switches have a few other features. A good example is the telemetry capabilities as well as MACsec. These are becoming standard features on modern switches, but it differentiates this new generation of silicon versus previous generations.
An example of how these are used is in O-RAN fronthaul. We recently covered the new Marvell O-RAN Platform for 5G Networks. O-RAN is a big bet for Marvell. Here the security is required and while the higher-end Prestera 8K switches are used for spine switches, the Prestera 7K is slotted to act as the leaf switches for aggregating base stations.
On the metro side, the idea is that one can use 400G uplinks with the Prestera 7K to higher-end backhauls while then use lower-speed networking for the access portion.
It will still be a few quarters until we really see these in the market, still, it is a nice look at the next-gen.
The new Prestera 7K line is pretty far from the most glamourous switch chip line in existence. Still, it has an important role to fill in lower speed segments of the network. We tend to review switches in this class more frequently on STH, so perhaps this is more of our coverage area. Hopefully, we will get to see Prestera 7K switches in 2021 as they hit the market.