Summer 2021 - Optical Connections Magazine


In what amounts to a statement of intent, Marvell launched new products at OFC 2021. These included the Atlas™ 50Gbps PAM4 DSP chipset solution for high- performance cloud data centre, computing and emerging AI applications, which extends Marvell’s networking portfolio and its addressable market. The company also introduced the industry’s first 1.6T Ethernet PHY with 100G PAM4 electrical input/ outputs (I/Os) in 5nm. Marvell also expanded its Coherent Digital Signal Processor (CDSP) portfolio with the new Deneb™ ultra-low power, multi-mode 400G DSP. Explaining the thinking behind the new products, Alvares said, “If you look inside the data centre, you have servers that talk to top of rack switches that talk to core switches, so you can see where the PAM4 technology sits. If you open a switch box, you have copper links going to the servers, and optical cables going between switches. Depending on the distances, you might have a re-timer or gearbox, depending on the module. So, you can see Marvel now has all these pieces together with Inphi bringing its PAM4 DSP technology into the fold.” Two of the new products in this portfolio, are the Atlas™ which is the next generation of the Polaris™ family, but with more integration. The second is the latest addition to the Alaska™ family, which is the industry’s first 5nm 100G serial solution. Marvell has all the pieces: switches to optical and copper connectivity, spanning all the different capacities, I/Os, and Ethernet ports that connect both downstream and upstream, with a number of different chipsets. “Inphi, has been the PAM4 industry leader since day one, has introduced multiple industry firsts with the Atlas™ product being the latest innovation integrating TIAs and linear drivers into the proven Polaris architecture. We can now enable a 200G optical module, with 25%, less power, 33% less components, produced in a CMOS fab with no package supply chain dependencies.” One other benefit of the latest acquisition has been that the Inphi team are able to produce TIAs and drivers in CMOS. “That’s very important,” says Alvares, “because CMOS yields far greater and there are so many wins with CMOS especially when it comes to power and integration.” When asked what else was on Marvell’s roadmap now the company was so well-positioned to dominate the data centre market, he replied, “Well, we’ve hardly mentioned 5G yet, and that’s a whole other story.” Watch this space…

gives us a very strong presence in the cloud, but we also have an internal start- up focussing on automotive that we’re aggressively investing in. So, with disruptions in that market space with electric vehicles happening, we’ve been investing in data centre on wheels architectures. Essentially, enabling the network in the car with Ethernet solutions and the evolution from legacy proprietary interfaces. With our compute, storage, and maybe in the future with our Inphi optical technology, we’ll be doing some really creative automotive stuff.” However, at present Marvell’s roadmap leads directly towards dominance of the datacentre market. Increasingly, data centre operators are looking to offload CPUs with accelerators and replace them with DPUs (Data Processing Units) components which, says Alvares, were first developed by the Marvell Cavium team. He says, “Storage has been our bread and butter since the company was founded. We’re number one in HDD, SSD and Fibre Channel controllers. Security is the secret that no one knows about, but we are the number one security processor and cloud HSM player. If you go into hyper scaler data centres, you will see the top players use our HSM (Hardware Security Modules) solution, and going forward, we’re going to be talking more about our best-in-class security offerings and capabilities. In addition, the Inphi team brings a number one position in PAM4 DSPs, linear TIAs and drivers and coherent DSPs and Marvell has a number two position in Ethernet switching and copper PHYs.” He added, “So this portfolio, together with Inphi technology, is going to compliment not only our networking switches. You’re going to see the combination of that IP with our processors and storage products in the future as the world becomes more disaggregated. You need high speed connectivity between these components, so the Inphi crown jewels of high-speed electro optics are going to likely be integrated into those products.”

We’re very excited with all the high-speed optical interconnect technology that Inphi brings to the table and how it integrates with our portfolio.” Alvares was also keen to stress that following the acquisition of Inphi, Marvell would be accelerating its R&D efforts to address the rapidly-growing cloud, 5G and automotive opportunities, pointing out that in the last fiscal, Marvell was spending about US$900 million on R&D which was around 30% of revenues. He added, “Inphi was doing it [R&D] at a similar clip, so expect us to continue to invest heavily. This was not an acquisition for nought, it was for accelerating investment and giving us more scale. Also, Inphi had foundry relationships with TSMC and Jazz and we’re strong partners with these foundries, so we’ll continue to partner with them and grow those partnerships. Marvell’s biggest office is in Santa Clara and we have R&D centres all over the world and continue to grow with Argentina as the latest addition from Inphi.” So far as the company’s focus is concerned, it’s firmly on data infrastructure, says Alvares. He explains, “We’re enabling the infrastructure that we’re all relying on so much these days. 5G carrier is a big area where we’re investing aggressively, and if you go into a base station, you’ll see our silicon, from processors to baseband technology. Campus enterprise has been our bread and butter in the past, where we do a lot of Ethernet switches and PHYs. They go into OEM networking gear; we have a lot of shipping silicon going into this type of equipment, which is enabling the evolution to borderless enterprises.” Although Marvell has always been strong on the enterprise side, the acquisition of Inphi significantly increased its presence in the cloud space. Alvares says, “The last couple of years, we’ve been focusing more and more investment in the cloud space. The acquisition of Inphi accelerates that and


ISSUE 24 | Q2 2021

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