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Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

May 23rd, 2017

Marvell MACCHIATObin Community Board Now Shipping

By Maen Suleiman

First-of-its-kind community platform makes ARM-64bit accessible for data center, networking and storage solutions developers

As network infrastructure continues to transition to Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), the industry is in great need of cost-optimized hardware platforms coupled with robust software support for the development of a variety of networking, security and storage solutions. The answer is finally here!

Now, with the shipping of the Marvell MACCHIATObin™ community board, developers and companies have access to a high-performance, affordable ARM®-based platform with the required technologies such as an ARMv8 64bit CPU, virtualization, high-speed networking and security accelerators, and the added benefit of open source software. SolidRun started shipping the Marvell MACCHIATObin community board in March 2017, providing an early access of the hardware to open-source communities.

 

MacchiatobinDiagram_v6

Click on image to enlarge

 

The Marvell MACCHIATObin community board is a mini-ITX form-factor ARMv8 64bit network- and storage-oriented community platform. It is based on the Marvell® hyperscale SBSA-compliant ARMADA® 8040 system on chip (SoC) (http://www.marvell.com/embedded-processors/armada-80xx/) that features quad-core high-performance Cortex®-A72 ARM 64bit CPUs.

Together with the quad-core Cortex-A72 ARM64bit CPUs, the Marvell MACCHIATObin community board provides two 10G Ethernet interfaces, three SATA 3.0 interfaces and support for up to 16GB of DDR4 memory to handle higher performance data center applications. This power does not come at the cost of affordability: the Marvell MACCHIATObin community board is priced at $349. As a result, it is the first affordable high-performance ARM 64bit networking and storage community platform of its kind.

The Marvell MACCHIATObin community board is easy to deploy. It uses the compact mini-ITX form factor enabling developers and companies to purchase one of the many cases based on the popular standard mini-ITX case to meet their requirements. The ARMADA 8040 SoC itself is SBSA- compliant to offer unified extensible firmware interface (UEFI) support. You can find the full specification at: http://wiki.macchiatobin.net/tiki-index.php?page=About+MACCHIATObin.

To provide the Marvell MACCHIATObin community board with ready-made support for the open-source platforms used in SDN, NFV and similar applications, Marvell is upstreaming MACCHIATObin software support to the Linux kernel, U-Boot and UEFI, and is set to upstream and open the Marvell MACCHIATObin community board for ODP and DPDK support.

In addition to upstreaming the MACCHIATObin software support, Marvell added MACCHIATObin support to the ARMADA 8040 SDK and plans to make the ARMADA 8040 SDK publicly available. Many of the ARMADA 8040 SDK components are available at: https://github.com/orgs/MarvellEmbeddedProcessors/.

For more information about the many innovative features of the Marvell MACCHIATObin community board, please visit: http://wiki.macchiatobin.net.  To place an order for the Marvell MACCHIATObin community board, please go to: http://macchiatobin.net/.

April 27th, 2017

The Challenges Of 11ac Wave 2 and 11ax in Wi-Fi Deployments How to Cost-Effectively Upgrade to 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T

By Nick Ilyadis

The Insatiable Need for Bandwidth: Standards Trying to Keep Up

With the push for more and more Wi-Fi bandwidth, the WLAN industry, its standards committees and the Ethernet switch manufacturers are having a hard time keeping up with the need for more speed. As the industry prepares for upgrading to 802.11ac Wave 2 and the promise of 11ax, the ability of Ethernet over existing copper wiring to meet the increased transfer speeds is being challenged. And what really can’t keep up are the budgets that would be needed to physically rewire the millions of miles of cabling in the world today.

The Latest on the Latest Wireless Networking Standards: IEEE 802.11ac Wave 2 and 802.11ax

The latest 802.11ac IEEE standard is now in Wave 2. According to Webopedia’s definition: the 802.11ac -2013 update, or 802.11ac Wave 2, is an addendum to the original 802.11ac wireless specification that utilizes Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO) technology and other advancements to help increase theoretical maximum wireless speeds from 3.47 gigabits-per-second (Gbps), in the original spec, to 6.93 Gbps in 802.11ac Wave 2. The original 802.11ac spec itself served as a performance boost over the 802.11n specification that preceded it, increasing wireless speeds by up to 3x. As with the initial specification, 802.11ac Wave 2 also provides backward compatibility with previous 802.11 specs, including 802.11n.

IEEE has also noted that in the past two decades, the IEEE 802.11 wireless local area networks (WLANs) have also experienced tremendous growth with the proliferation of IEEE 802.11 devices, as a major Internet access for mobile computing. Therefore, the IEEE 802.11ax specification is under development as well.  Giving equal time to Wikipedia, its definition of 802.11ax is: a type of WLAN designed to improve overall spectral efficiency in dense deployment scenarios, with a predicted top speed of around 10 Gbps. It works in 2.4GHz or 5GHz and in addition to MIMO and MU-MIMO, it introduces Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) technique to improve spectral efficiency and also higher order 1024 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) modulation support for better throughputs. Though the nominal data rate is just 37 percent higher compared to 802.11ac, the new amendment will allow a 4X increase of user throughput. This new specification is due to be publicly released in 2019.

Faster “Cats” Cat 5, 5e, 6, 6e and on

And yes, even cabling is moving up to keep up. You’ve got Cat 5, 5e, 6, 6e and 7 (search: Differences between CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6 and CAT6e Cables for specifics), but suffice it to say, each iteration is capable of moving more data faster, starting with the ubiquitous Cat 5 at 100Mbps at 100MHz over 100 meters of cabling to Cat 6e reaching 10,000 Mbps at 500MHz over 100 meters. Cat 7 can operate at 600MHz over 100 meters, with more “Cats” on the way. All of this of course, is to keep up with streaming, communications, mega data or anything else being thrown at the network.

How to Keep Up Cost-Effectively with 2.5BASE-T and 5BASE-T

What this all boils down to is this: no matter how fast the network standards or cables get, the migration to new technologies will always be balanced with the cost of attaining those speeds and technologies in the physical realm. In other words, balancing the physical labor costs associated to upgrade all those millions of miles of cabling in buildings throughout the world, as well as the switches or other access points. The labor costs alone, are a reason why companies often seek out to stay in the wiring closet as long as possible, where the physical layer (PHY) devices, such access and switches, remain easier and more cost effective to switch out, than replacing existing cabling.

This is where Marvell steps in with a whole solution. Marvell’s products, including the Avastar wireless products, Alaska PHYs and Prestera switches, provide an optimized solution that will help support up to 2.5 and 5.0 Gbps speeds, using existing cabling. For example, the Marvell Avastar 88W8997 wireless processor was the industry’s first 28nm, 11ac (wave-2), 2×2 MU-MIMO combo with full support for Bluetooth 4.2, and future BT5.0. To address switching, Marvell created the Marvell® Prestera® DX family of packet processors, which enables secure, high-density and intelligent 10GbE/2.5GbE/1GbE switching solutions at the access/edge and aggregation layers of Campus, Industrial, Small Medium Business (SMB) and Service Provider networks. And finally, the Marvell Alaska family of Ethernet transceivers are PHY devices which feature the industry’s lowest power, highest performance and smallest form factor.

These transceivers help optimize form factors, as well as multiple port and cable options, with efficient power consumption and simple plug-and-play functionality to offer the most advanced and complete PHY products to the broadband market to support 2.5G and 5G data rate over Cat5e and Cat6 cables.

You mean, I don’t have to leave the wiring closet?

The longer changes can be made at the wiring closet vs. the electricians and cabling needed to rewire, the better companies can balance faster throughput at lower cost. The Marvell Avastar, Prestera and Alaska product families are ways to help address the upgrade to 2.5G- and 5GBASE-T over existing copper wire to keep up with that insatiable demand for throughput, without taking you out of the wiring closet. See you inside!

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April 27th, 2017

Top Eight Data Center Trends For Keeping up with High Data Bandwidth Demand

By Nick Ilyadis

IoT devices, online video streaming, increased throughput for servers and storage solutions – all have contributed to the massive explosion of data circulating through data centers and the increasing need for greater bandwidth. IT teams have been chartered with finding the solutions to support higher bandwidth to attain faster data speeds, yet must do it in the most cost-efficient way – a formidable task indeed. Marvell recently shared with eWeek about what it sees as the top trends in data centers as they try to keep up with the unprecedented demand for higher and higher bandwidth. Below are the top eight data center trends Marvell has identified as IT teams develop the blueprint for achieving high bandwidth, cost-effective solutions to keep up with explosive data growth.

 

CloudComputing

 

1.) Higher Adoption of 25GbE

To support this increased need for high bandwidth, companies are evaluating whether to adopt 40GbE to the server as an upgrade from 10GbE. 25GbE provides more cost effective throughput than 40GbE since 40GbE requires more power and costlier cables. Therefore, 25GbE is becoming acknowledged as an optimal next-generation Ethernet speed for connecting servers as data centers seek to balance cost/performance tradeoffs.

2.) The Ability to Bundle and Unbundle Channels

Historically, data centers have upgraded to higher link speeds by aggregating multiple single-lane 10GbE network physical layers. Today, 100Gbps can be achieved by bundling four 25Gbps links together or alternatively, 100GbE can also be unbundled into four independent 25GbE channels. The ability to bundle and unbundle 100GbE gives IT teams wider flexibility in moving data across their network and in adapting to changing customer needs.

3.)  Big Data Analytics

Increased data means increased traffic. Real-time analytics allow organizations to monitor and make adjustments as needed to effectively allocate precious network bandwidth and resources. Leveraging analytics has become a key tool for data center operators to maximize their investment.

datacenter2

 

 

4.) Growing Demand for Higher-Density Switches

Advances in semiconductor processes to 28nm and 16nm have allowed network switches to become smaller and smaller. In the past, a 48-port switch required two chips with advanced port configurations. But today, the same result can be achieved on a single chip, which not only keeps costs down, but improves power efficiency.

5.) Power Efficiency Needed to Keep Costs Down

Energy costs are often among the highest costs incurred by data centers.  Ethernet solutions designed with greater power efficiency help data centers transition to the higher GbE rates needed to keep up with the higher bandwidth demands, while keeping energy costs in check.

datacenter3

 

 

6.) More Outsourcing of IT to the Cloud

IT organizations are not only adopting 25GbE to address increasing bandwidth demands, they are also turning to the cloud. By outsourcing IT to the cloud, organizations are able to secure more space on their network, while maintaining bandwidth speeds.

7.) Using NVM Express-based Storage to Maximize Performance

NVM Express® (NVMe™) is a scalable host controller interface designed to address the needs of enterprise, data center and client systems that utilize PCI-e based solid-state drives (SSDs.) By using the NVMe protocol, data centers can exploit the full performance of SSDs, creating new compute models that no longer have the limitations of legacy rotational media. SSD performance can be maximized, while server clusters can be enabled to pool storage and share data access throughout the network.

datacenter4

8.) Transition from Servers to Network Storage

With the growing amount of data transferred across networks, more data centers are deploying storage on networks vs. servers. Ethernet technologies are being leveraged to attach storage to the network instead of legacy storage interconnects as the data center transitions from a traditional server model to networked storage.

As shown above, IT teams are using a variety of technologies and methods to keep up with the explosive increase in data and higher needs for data center bandwidth. What methods are you employing to keep pace with the ever-increasing demands on the data center, and how do you try to keep energy usage and costs down?

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April 3rd, 2017

How the Introduction of the Cell Phone Sparked Today’s Data Demands

By Sander Arts

Almost 44 years ago on April 3, 1973, an engineer named Martin Cooper walked down a street in Manhattan with a brick-shaped device in his hand and made history’s very first cell phone call. Weighing an impressive 2.5 pounds and standing 11 inches tall, the world’s first mobile device featured a single-line, text-only LED display screen.

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

A lot has changed since then. Phones have gotten smaller, faster and smarter, innovating at a pace that would have been unimaginable four decades ago. Today, phone calls are just one of the many capabilities that we expect from our mobile devices, in addition to browsing the internet, watching videos, finding directions, engaging in social media and more. All of these activities require the rapid movement and storage of data, drawing closer parallels to the original PC than Cooper’s 2.5 pound prototype. And that’s only the beginning – the demand for data has expanded far past mobile.

Data Demands: to Infinity and Beyond!

Today’s consumers can access content from around the world almost instantaneously using a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, cars and even household appliances. Whether it’s a large-scale event such as Super Bowl LI or just another day, data usage is skyrocketing as we communicate with friends, family and strangers across the globe sharing ideas, uploading pictures, watching videos, playing games and much more.

According to a study by Domo, every minute in the U.S. consumers use over 18 million megabytes of wireless data. At the recent 2017 OCP U.S. Summit, Facebook shared that over 95 million photos and videos are posted on Instagram every day – and that’s only one app.  As our world becomes smarter and more connected, data demands will only continue to grow.

Credit: Marvell

Credit: Marvell

 

The Next Generation of Data Movement and Storage

At Marvell, we’re focused on helping our customers move and store data securely, reliably and efficiently as we transform data movement and storage across a range markets from the consumer to the cloud. With the staggering amount of data the world creates and moves every day, it’s hard to believe the humble beginnings of the technology we now take for granted.

What data demands will our future devices be tasked to support? Tweet us at @marvellsemi and let us know what you think!

October 13th, 2016

Marvell Unveils Industry’s First 25G PHY Transceiver Fully Compliant to IEEE 802.3by 25GbE Specification

By Venu Balasubramonian

Alaska C 88X5123 enables adoption of 25G Ethernet in datacenters and enterprise networks

Server room in data center.

Server room in data center.

Growing demand for networking bandwidth is one of the biggest pain points facing datacenters today. To keep up with increased bandwidth needs, datacenters are transitioning from 10G to 25G Ethernet (GbE). To enable this, IEEE developed the 802.3by specifications defining Ethernet operation at 25Gbps, which was ratified recently. We are excited to introduce the high performance Marvell Alaska C 88X5123 Ethernet transceiver, the industry’s first PHY transceiver fully compliant to the new IEEE 25GbE specification.

Availability of standards-compliant equipment is critical for the growth and widespread adoption of 25GbE. By delivering the industry’s first PHY device fully compliant to the IEEE 802.3by 25GbE specification, we are enabling our customers to address the 25GbE market by developing products and applications that meet this newly defined specification.

In addition to supporting the IEEE 802.3by 25GbE specification, our 88X5123 is also fully compliant to the IEEE 802.3bj 100GbE specification and the 25/50G Ethernet Consortium specification. The device is packaged in a small 17mm x 17mm package, and supports 8 ports of 25GbE, four ports of 50GbE or two ports of 100GbE operation. The device also supports gearboxing functionality to enable high density 40G Ethernet solutions, on switch ASICs with native 25G I/Os.

With support for long reach (LR) SerDes, and integrated forward error correction (FEC) capability, the 88X5123 supports a variety of media types including single mode and multi-mode optical modules, passive and active copper direct attach cables, and copper backplanes. The device offers a fully symmetric architecture with LR SerDes and FEC capability on host and line interfaces, giving customers the flexibility for their system designs.

For more information on Marvell’s Alaska C 88X5123 Ethernet transceiver, please visit: http://www.marvell.com/transceivers/alaska-c-gbe/

October 6th, 2016

Marvell PHYs for Low-Latency Industrial Ethernet

By Kaushik Mittra

Part 1 of Two-Part Series

Introducing the Marvell 88E1510P/1512P/1510Q Family of PHY Products

Traditionally Ethernet has been used in enterprise applications – we are familiar with its use in our office environments. But the IEEE 802.3 family of standards is constantly evolving. Industrial networks present their own set of challenges, and Ethernet with its components are evolving again to address the needs of the factory floor. Connectivity hardware that can offer low-latency, enhanced electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection while operating in extended temperature environments is invaluable to industrial network implementation. The Marvell 88E1510P/88E1512P/88E1510Q family of PHY (physical layer device) products was designed from the ground up in collaboration with leaders in industrial automation and has been vetted for use in the most demanding industrial applications.

A multitude of communication protocols are used in industrial networks today including EtherNet/IP, EtherCAT, Profinet and SERCOS III. These are independent and proprietary offerings from different vendors. But what they share in common is the goal to deliver real-time Ethernet to industrial automation applications under harsh environmental conditions. The typical elements of an industrial network might include programmable logic controllers (PLCs), motor controllers and drives, sensor networks and human machine interfaces (HMIs). These elements are connected on the Ethernet backbone using a protocol such as EtherCAT or Profinet. The network topology might be hub-spoke (star) or linear. Regardless of network topology, the goal is to provide precise control and synchronized timing information to each of the nodes. If the topology is a long daisy chain, then each node has to perform with the most optimized latency to enable fast request/response cycle times through the system.

Figure1-IndustrialConnectivity

Looking for a Low-Latency PHY?

Protocols such as EtherCAT have to process the Ethernet packet and insert new data into the frame as it passes through in real-time. For real-time applications, this imposes tight restrictions on the latency through the switch and PHY. With this requirement in mind, we designed the Marvell 88E1510P/1512P/1510Q family of PHY products to address the stringent latency needs of tier-1 industrial customers. The table below shows that the Marvell low-latency PHY operates 30-40 percent faster as compared to non-optimized implementations.

Figure2-Default-transmit

While the data shown above is the default configuration, significantly lower latencies are possible with register programming. The sum total of transmit and receive latency was less than 400ns across the entire range, as shown below.

Figure3-Lessthan400ns

The small latency variation observed (from min to max) is due to the presence of synchronization circuits in the transmit path. Typically a FIFO (first in, first out queue) is used in the transmit path to compensate for any PPM (parts-per-million) differences between the transmit circuits and receiving circuits. Depending on packet size and the number of entries in the FIFO, a small variation in latency can be observed.

(Note: When the PHY is used for precision-time protocol- (PTP-) based timestamping applications, the presence of the FIFO does not affect the accuracy of the timestamps. The timestamps are taken closest to the wire, eliminating the FIFO uncertainty).

Future Proof with 1000BASE-T

While 100BASE-TX speeds are sufficient for the majority of factory applications today, there is a growing need to support 1000BASE-T. Since the installation of industrial equipment and networks is capital-intensive, it is prudent to use a PHY device that can future-proof network speed requirements up to 1000BASE-T. The Marvell 88E1510P/1512P/1510Q family of PHY products supports 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, and 1000BASE-T. The low latency ranges observed in 1000BASE-T mode is shown below.

Figure4-Lessthan400ns

Extended Temperature Operation and ESD support

In an industrial environment, it is difficult to control temperatures on the plant floor, where surrounding equipment may operate at high temperatures and where it can be difficult to provide good ventilation. Industrial motors and robots connected by an Ethernet network often have to weld metals at very high temperatures.

Figure5-Ethernetcomponents-
This requires the PHY to operate in environments where the ambient temperature remains high throughout the entire duration of operation (for more than several hours). The Marvell 88E1510P/1512P/1510Q family of PHY products was designed to operate in ambient operating temperature ranges of minus -40 0C to 85 0C degrees (or 125 0C maximum junction temperature.)

In addition to high temperature, industrial environments can also lead to accumulation of electric charge within the machinery. To shield against high voltage surges, the Marvell PHY has enhanced ESD protection circuits. We tested the Marvell PHY in the robust testing environments of some of the largest industrial electronics OEMs who approved the device from an ESD perspective.

Packaging and Interface Options

The Marvell 88E1510P/1512P/1510Q family of PHYs is offered in 48-pin or 56-pin QFN packages. It also offers a variety of host interface options such as RGMII, MII and SGMII. For information on specific features, please review the attached product selector guide.

In conclusion, connectivity hardware that can offer enhanced ESD protection, low-latency and operate under extended temperature ranges is gaining popularity in industrial networks. The Marvell 88E1510P/1512P/1510Q family of PHYs offers these key benefits to implement in any real-time industrial Ethernet network.

June 1st, 2016

Marvell Supports An Enterprise-Grade Network Operating System With The Linux Foundation Project

By Yaniv Kopelman

As organizations continue to invest in data centers to host a variety of applications, more demands are placed on the network infrastructure. The deployment of white boxes is an approach organizations can take to meet their networking needs. White box switches are a “blank” standard hardware that relies on a network operating system, commonly Linux-based. White box switches coupled with Open Network Operating Systems enable organizations to customize the networking features that support their objectives and streamline operations to fit their business.

Marvell is committed to powering the key technologies in the data center and the enterprise network, which is why we are proud to be a contributor to the OpenSwitch Project by The Linux Foundation. Built to run on Linux and open hardware, OpenSwitch is a full-featured network operating system (NOS) aimed at enabling the transition to disaggregated networks. OpenSwitch allows for freedom of innovation while maintaining stability and limiting vulnerability, and has a reliable architecture focused on modularity and availability. The open source OpenSwitch NOS allows developers to build networks that prioritize business-critical workloads and functions, and removes the burdens of interoperability issues and complex licensing structures that are inherent in proprietary systems.

As a provider of switches and PHYs for data center and campus networking markets, Marvell believes that the open source OpenSwitch NOS will help the deployment of white boxes in the data center and campus networks. Developers will be able to build networks that prioritize business-critical workloads and functions, removing the burdens of interoperability issues and complex licensing structures that are inherent in proprietary systems.

Our first contribution is to port the Marvell Switch Software Development Kit (CPSS) to support OpenSwitch. This contribution to an industry standard NOS will enable Marvell devices to be widely used across different markets and boxes.

To learn more, please visit: http://www.openswitch.net/, or read the full press release.