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Marvell Builds Port-Extender ASSP

April 11, 2017

Author: Loring Wirbel

Marvell’s new Prestera 98PX1012 revisits the early Ethernet era of passive bridge components, updating the concept for top-of-rack switches. This Passive Intelligent Port Extender (Pipe) device uses the IEEE 802.1BR standard to offer bridging services at the top of a rack, managing them from a central switch.

The port extender is an easy way for data centers to upgrade from 10/40GbE networks to 10/25/100GbE. It also provides a simple and low-cost fanout from 100GbE to 10GbE ports. The company anticipates enough demand for top-of-rack (ToR) port extenders to warrant the new product family.

Pipe resembles an unmanaged switch in that it takes all management from the top of the rack and moves it upstream, but it integrates a programmable packet-header editor and failover/resiliency features. Centralizing management in a dedicated data-center bridge can reduce ToR power dissipation by up to 50%.

Marvell legitimately distinguishes the enterprise data-center and midrange private-cloud markets from public clouds and hyperscale data centers. These smaller facilities would find port extenders and passive 1U ToR platforms attractive. The company may see healthy demand for its 98PX1012, as well as future Prestera Pipe and Pipe2 devices, so long as it delivers major cost and power advantages over switch alternatives.

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