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Broadcom Hits Smart NICs and Storage

August 15, 2017

Author: Jag Bolaria

Broadcom’s new BCM58800 processor family combines eight high-end ARM CPUs and fixed-function accelerators to reach 100Gbps of throughput in smart NICs. It also targets NVMe Over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) in storage appliances. The ARM Cortex-A72 CPUs operate faster than any other announced A72-based product. Because the BCM58800 is built in 16nm technology, it will likely deliver leading power efficiency and overall low power. The new processor is sampling and should qualify for production in 2H17.

BCM58800 will consist of four products that target either 50Gbps or 100Gbps Ethernet connectivity. Along with the Ethernet speed, these versions will scale back the number of CPUs and external interfaces as well as total power dissipation. The company’s first SmartNIC adapter will support 50Gbps, which is currently the top data rate in servers. It also integrates four 25Gbps serdes channels that are configurable for specific Ethernet ports.

The BCM58800 should be the first100GbE smart-NIC SoC to enable half-height and half-length PCIe adapters for standard server platforms.

In scale-out storage appliances, the new chip serves as both the main system processor and the NIC. It connects to SSDs using the NVMe protocol over the PCIe physical layer. To link the SSDs at the target to RNICs at the client, the BCM58800 supports NVMe-oF and RoCE. These features, along with the networking accelerators, make it a good fit for NFV and storage appliances—especially those that implement object-storage file systems. 

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