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Marvell Brings 400GbE to Enterprises

April 30, 2019

Author: Bob Wheeler

Bucking the white-box trend, Marvell remains focused on network-equipment OEMs that serve enterprise customers. Its new Prestera CX 8500 family upgrades the company’s Ethernet switching portfolio with 400Gbps Ethernet (400GbE) and PAM4-based network interfaces. The design uses chiplets to yield various configurations ranging from 2.0Tbps with 25Gbps NRZ interfaces to 12.8Tbps with 50Gbps PAM4 interfaces. Most variants are now sampling, with production scheduled for 4Q19.

Broadcom’s Tomahawk line—the leading data-center switch chips—targets hyperscale data centers, which use fast but relatively dumb top-of-rack switches. By contrast, the Prestera CX 8500 delivers features that build on Marvell’s enterprise-switching success. They include the storage-aware flow engine (Safe), which automatically identifies RDMA flows for better quality of service. Marvell brands a new set of fabric features as Faster (“forwarding architecture using slices of terabit Ethernet routers”). Faster enables multichip configurations with up to 1,024 ports or 400Tbps in aggregate.

The Prestera CX 8500 enters an increasingly crowded 400GbE-switch-chip market. In addition to Broadcom, vendors serving this market include Barefoot, Innovium, Mellanox, and Nephos, each of which has its own spin on differentiating from the leader. Marvell stands out, however, as an enterprise-switching incumbent with existing OEM relationships. It needn’t win a hyperscale customer.

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