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Broadcom Quartz Packs TSN Features

May 9, 2017

Author: Loring Wirbel

Broadcom is diverging from its traditional Ethernet switch applications by diving into Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN). The latest member of the StrataConnect family, the Quartz BCM5357x, implements more IEEE TSN standards than any other Ethernet switch. Although it’s uncertain whether many applications will need time synchronization, pre-emption, failover redundancy, and time-aware scheduling, Quartz targets a broad range of markets. It may blow past switches that focus on limited industrial features such as IEEE 1588v2.

Broadcom expects new applications, including professional audio/video (pro A/V) and autonomous vehicles, will adopt the determinism and fault tolerance that industrial controls and telecom/wireless infrastructure already employ. But convincing customers in additional vertical markets to adopt Ethernet TSN as an alternative to established protocols could take years.

The Quartz family uses 24 or 48 serdes lanes based on the multi-gigabit I/O, which supports Fast Ethernet, GbE, 2.5GbE, 5GbE, 10GbE, 25GbE, 40GbE, and 50GbE. The BCM53570 offers two port-fanout options: 24x10GbE plus 2x40GbE/4x25GbE, or 56xGbE/2.5GbE plus 8x10GbE/4x25GbE. The BCM53575 provides 24xGbE on the downlink and 4x10GbE on the uplink. Quartz integrates ARM Cortex-A9 and Cortex-R5 CPUs, as well as Broadcom’s ContentAware packet processor for classification and filtering. It supports eight class-of-service queues per port, providing low latency for high-priority traffic.

These features place the switch in the midrange with Marvell’s Aldrin. The port configurations and embedded CPUs aren’t differentiating factors, however. Setting Quartz apart is its TSN suite, which includes 802.1Q protocols for bridged local networks—particularly 802.1Qbx/cx for traffic shaping and streaming. Marvell could augment its Bobcat 3 switch to follow suit, but industrial-Ethernet switch vendors with lower-speed products are unlikely to respond quickly.

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