US chipmaker Marvell Technology has created 400Gbps silicon for Ethernet switches, destined for data centres that live at the edge of the network.
The shiny new Prestera CX 8500 family supports 32 ports of 400Gbps or 256 ports of 50Gbps – that's up to 12.8Tb per second of total bandwidth.
The chips integrate two technologies proprietary to Marvell.
The first, Storage Aware Flow Engine (or SAFE), offers visibility into network flows that should help orchestrate disaggregated, virtual storage – think composable infrastructure and NVMe over fabrics.
Forwarding Architecture, the second, uses Slices of Terabit Ethernet Routers (or FASTER, these guys are really nailing their acronyms) to reduce the number of network layers in a data centre. At least that is what it says on the tin.
On the manufacturing side, the chips rely on the tried-and-tested 16nm process, which means Marvell is not likely to run into production difficulties.
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Currently, 400Gbps is the most you can squeeze out of your corporate network – we simply don't have the standards to send more data down a piece of cable (at least we won't have until 2020). It remains to be seen whether such a high level of bandwidth will be required at the edge, where, according to conventional wisdom, end users are few and far between.
California-based Marvell originally made its fortunes by designing storage controllers, and gradually expanded into wired and wireless networking. In 2018, the company acquired Cavium, notable for being one of the few businesses to successfully introduce Arm architecture into the data centre with its ThunderX product line.
Marvell paid $6bn for the privilege of entering the server market, and the move created a fab-less semiconductor giant with around $3.4bn in annual revenue. ®