New Broadcom Tomahawk 3 Switch Chip for 12.8Tbps Networking

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Broadcom Logo
Broadcom Logo

Broadcom announced that is has started shipping the Tomahawk 3 switch chip. The Broadcom Tomahawk 3 is an important chip because of its 12.8Tbps switching capacity allows for 32x 400GbE configuration, 64x 200GbE, or 128x 100GbE configurations. Broadcom is shipping this next generation just over 14 months after Tomahawk II. That blistering pace underscores how hyper-scale clients are pushing for faster networking. The Tomahawk line is popular with white box OEM switch vendors that target the hyper-scale market along with some of the popular switch vendors who do not make their own switch ASICs.

About the Broadcom Tomahawk 3

Here are the key attributes and benefits of the new Tomahawk 3 from Broadcom:

  • Enables the next major leap in hyperscale data center network throughput, supporting 32 x 400GbE, 64 x 200GbE, or 128 x 100GbE line rate switching and routing on a single chip
  • Delivers disruptive gains in hyperscale CAPEX and OPEX efficiency: 40% reduction in power per 100Gbps, and up to 75% lower cost per 100Gbps, versus alternatives
  • New, state-of-the-art, integrated 12.8Tbps shared-buffer architecture offers 3X to 5X higher incast absorption and provides the highest performance and lowest end-to-end latency for RoCEv2 based workloads
  • Industry-leading Broadview™ Gen 3 integrated network instrumentation feature set and software suite, providing full visibility to network operators into packet flow behavior, traffic management state, and switch internal performance
  • Comprehensively supports all packet processing and traffic management requirements for next-gen hyperscale network use cases: >2X IP route forwarding scale, 2X ECMP scale, Dynamic Load Balancing and Group Multipathing, In-Band Network Telemetry, Elephant Flow detection and re-prioritization
  • Robust connectivity using 256 instances of the industry’s best performing and longest-reach 50G PAM-4 integrated Serdes core, enabling long-reach (LR) East-West optical links and Direct-Attached-Copper (DAC) in-rack cabling in the data center, fully compliant to new IEEE standards for 50/100/200/400GbE
  • Implemented with unparalleled silicon area and power efficiency on proven, high-volume 16nm process technology node, ensuring fastest time to CY2018 production network deployment for hyperscale customers 

(Source: Broadcom)

That gives you a sense of what is driving this accelerated advancement in switch ASICs.

Final Words

As flash storage has invaded data centers, specifically NVMe storage, large data center operators are looking for higher-speed networking as 100GbE is simply not enough. One of the main reasons we see many vendors looking at PCIe 5.0 is that 400GbE demands are serious and one will need a PCIe 5.0 generation x16 slot for a 400GbE NIC. PCIe 5.0 is still some time out but with PCIe 4.0 just reaching v1.0, the PCI-SIG is racing on the next-generation to stay relevant.

Tomahawk 3 is shipping in two flavors the 12.8Tbps BCM56980 and the 8.0Tbps BCM56982.

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