Marvell Switch & PHY Portfolio Highlights Enterprise Edge

Article By : Nitin Dahad

Growth in 5G, Wi-Fi 6 and IoT deployment means the enterprise edge is where intelligent network switching is needed...

Growing remote workforces and future 5G and Wi-Fi 6 deployments mean that enterprises will become increasingly borderless. This entails a move from data center to the enterprise edge, and Marvell intends to capitalize on the trend with the introduction of a portfolio of Ethernet switches and PHYs that integrate security, analytics and visibility to enable an intelligent edge.

According to Sameh Boujelbene, senior research director at telecoms research firm Dell’Oro Group, the growth of 5G, Wi-Fi 6 and internet of things (IoT) devices on the network means that enterprise switching will continue to extend beyond the traditional on-premises campus environment with increasing deployments at the access and intelligent edge. She commented, “These deployment use cases are driving emerging requirements in terms of security, analytics, visibility and automation. Marvell’s new Prestera switch portfolio helps address those requirements.”

The new portfolio provides a complete line of GE, 2.5GE, 5GE, 10GE, 25GE, 100GE and 400GE platforms to fit a variety of network architectures at different speeds, densities and scales at small, medium and large enterprise IT organizations. Comprising four Prestera Ethernet switches and corresponding Alaska Ethernet PHYs, Marvell said they create a clear path to upgrade enterprise networks to multi-gigabit Ethernet in support of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G deployments.

enterprise edge - Marvell switches and PHY
The new portfolio of swtiches and PHYs from Marvell integrate security, analytics and visibility to enable an intelligent edge. (Image: Marvell)

Marvell told EE Times the new set of switches and PHYs were developed directly as a result of the acquisition of Aquantia, and feature state-of-the-art telemetry and intelligence. The company explained that in many enterprises, the end components are not uniform, “so we’ve placed intelligence at all access points using multicore CPUs”. This includes its 12th generation Prestera architecture which integrates flow aware data processing and traffic management, integrated MACsec, secure boot and storage, security sensors for traffic anomaly detection and multicore Arm Cortex-M and Cortex-A CPUs to run the embedded software.

Marvell prestera architecture
The 12th generation Prestera architecture is common across access to core switches, helping minimize customer development costs. (Image: Marvell)

“The growth at the edge of the network is Marvell’s sweet spot,” according to George Hervey, principal system architect at Marvell. “We will have the first 400G switch for the enterprise, which gives us a year’s lead in this segment. As we race towards 25G, 50G and 100G networks, very few will have this breadth in terms of the portfolio to address access, aggregation and core.”

The devices address specific requirements of borderless enterprises as mobility and cloud applications extend the boundaries of the traditional campus environment. The growth in data traffic corresponding with high user expectations are putting massive strain on existing network infrastructure and ultimately, on the IT organizations that manage them. These organizations are tasked with delivering seamless experiences to their growing remote workforces, with expectations of zero-downtime, higher bandwidth performance for video and content sharing, and data protection and security.

The enterprise edge portfolio features intelligent workload management to enable optimized data processing at or near the network access edge, improving the performance of hybrid cloud architectures in use cases like retail, manufacturing, hospitality, finance and education. The integrated telemetry capabilities can produce data that facilitates network automation and expedites forensic analytics. Advanced security features underpin trustworthiness and provide network embedded protection from evolving security threats.

Commenting on this capability following the Marvell launch in Forbes magazine, Will Townsend, a senior analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, said he was impressed with the three discrete technology building blocks that Marvell delivers from an architectural perspective. He commented “TrackIQ provides analytics and insight through real-time telemetry flows and helps detect device health and network issues. NetIQ serves as the data processing engine and employs artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for automatic remediation. Finally, SecureIQ delivers zero-trust security through a secure boot and media access control for a hardened, cryptography-based platform.”

Marvell said its secure, software-defined and cloud-friendly silicon advances automation and network adaptation. The refreshed Prestera switching architecture, with integrated programmable pipeline processing elements and compute resources, provides investment protection as networks plan for flexibility to support future use cases.

The portfolio of Prestera Ethernet switches and Alaska PHYs deliver software and hardware unified solutions from access to core, fitting a variety of architectures, speeds, densities and scales. Marvell’s technologies lay the foundation for network visibility, intelligence, performance and security with features such as:

  • TrackIQ, which drives rigorous visibility and actionable analytics by providing accurate line-rate real-time telemetry data about network flows, anomalies and device healthiness
  • NetIQwhich powers intelligent data processing at the network edge for auto-healing and auto-adaptation as well as feature engineering for AI applications and machine learning
  • SecureIQwhich delivers network-embedded trustworthiness and advanced security to protect hardware and network software from ever-evolving security threats. The switches integrate secure boot and an IEEE 802.1AE media access control security (MACsec) engine to provide cryptography-based security for Ethernet traffic passing through all network-facing ports.

The new generation of enterprise switches include a software development kit that has been refreshed with industry-standard switch abstraction interfaces enabling networking system vendors to easily migrate across networking silicon choices. Marvell supports a rich ecosystem such as Linux Foundation’s DENT, Open Compute Project’s SONiC, and a variety of commercial networking software solutions including Marvell’s own turnkey networking software stack, enabling a range of options from original device manufacturers.

The portfolio includes state-of-the-art Ethernet PHY devices which span data rates between 10Mbps to 400Gbps. Marvell said its copper PHYs are leaders in the field in cabling reach performance, EMI immunity and low power dissipation while its optical PHYs provide superior SerDes performance, gearbox flexibility, and MACsec encryption at very high data rates. The newest additions to the copper PHY product family are specifically optimized for the 2.5Gbps and 5Gbps data rates required for Wi-Fi 6 uplinks. The quad-port device is capable of Cat5e cable reach in excess of 230 meters at 2.5Gbps allowing for remote deployment of access points beyond building structured wiring.

The first of the Alaska PHYs and Prestera switches are available now with the complete portfolio by end of the year.

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