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November 17th, 2021

Still the One: Why Fibre Channel Will Remain the Gold Standard for Storage Connectivity

By Todd Owens, Technical Marketing Manager, Marvell

For the past two decades, Fibre Channel has been the gold standard protocol in Storage Area Networking (SAN) and has been a mainstay in the data center for mission-critical workloads, providing high-availability connectivity between servers, storage arrays and backup devices. If you’re new to this market, you may have wondered if the technology’s origin has some kind of British backstory. Actually, the spelling of “Fibre” simply reflects the fact that the protocol supports not only optical fiber but also copper cabling; though the latter is for much shorter distances.

During this same period, servers matured into multicore, high-performance machines with significant amounts of virtualization. Storage arrays have moved away from rotating disks to flash and NVMe storage devices that deliver higher performance at much lower latencies. New storage solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure have come to market to allow applications to move out of the data center and closer to the edge of the network. Ethernet networks have gone from 10Mbps to 100Gbps and beyond. Given these changes, one would assume that Fibre Channel’s best days are in the past.

The reality is that Fibre Channel technology remains the gold standard for server to storage connectivity because it has not stood still and continues to evolve to meet the demands of today’s most advanced compute and storage environments. There are several reasons Fibre Channel is still favored over other protocols like Ethernet or InfiniBand for server to storage connectivity.

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November 9th, 2021

Network Visibility of 5G Radio Access Networks, Part 2

By Gidi Navon, Senior Principal Architect, Marvell

In part one of this blog, we discussed the ways the Radio Access Network (RAN) is dramatically changing with the introduction of 5G networks and the growing importance of network visibility for mobile network operators. In part two of this blog, we’ll delve into resource monitoring and Open RAN monitoring, and further explain how Marvell’s Prestera® switches equipped with TrackIQ visibility tools can ensure the smooth operation of the network for operators.

Resource monitoring

Monitoring latency is a critical way to identify problems in the network that result in latency increase. However, if measured latency is high, it is already too late, as the radio networks have already started to degrade. The fronthaul network, in particular, is sensitive to even a small increase in latency. Therefore, mobile operators need to ensure the fronthaul segment is below the point of congestion thus achieving extremely low latencies.

Visibility tools for Radio Access Networks need to measure the utilization of ports, making sure links never get congested. More precisely, they need to make sure the rate of the high priority queues carrying the latency sensitive traffic (such as eCPRI user plane data) is well below the allocated resources for such a traffic class.

A common mistake is measuring rates on long intervals. Imagine a traffic scenario over a 100GbE link, as shown in Figure 1, with quiet intervals and busy intervals. Checking the rate over long intervals of seconds will only reveal the average port utilization of 25%, giving the false impression that the network has high margins, without noticing the peak rate. The peak rate, which is close to 100%, can easily lead to egress queue congestion, resulting in buffer buildup and higher latencies.

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October 20th, 2021

Low Power DSP-Based Transceivers for Data Center Optical Fiber Communications

By Radha Nagarajan, SVP and CTO, Optical and Copper Connectivity Business Group

As the volume of global data continues to grow exponentially, data center operators often confront a frustrating challenge: how to process a rising tsunami of terabytes within the limits of their facility’s electrical power supply – a constraint imposed by the physical capacity of the cables that bring electric power from the grid into their data center.

Fortunately, recent innovations in optical transmission technology – specifically, in the design of optical transceivers – have yielded tremendous gains in energy efficiency, which frees up electric power for more valuable computational work.

Recently, at the invitation of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, my Marvell  colleagues Ilya Lyubomirsky, Oscar Agazzi and I published a paper detailing these technological breakthroughs, titled Low Power DSP-based Transceivers for Data Center Optical Fiber Communications.

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October 18th, 2021

Network Visibility of 5G Radio Access Networks, Part 1

By Gidi Navon, Senior Principal Architect, Marvell

The Radio Access Network (RAN) is dramatically changing with the introduction of 5G networks and this, in turn, is driving home the importance of network visibility. Visibility tools are essential for mobile network operators to guarantee the smooth operation of the network and for providing mission-critical applications to their customers.

In this blog, we will demonstrate how Marvell’s Prestera® switches equipped with TrackIQ visibility tools are evolving to address the unique needs of such networks.

The changing RAN

The RAN is the portion of a mobile system that spans from the cell tower to the mobile core network. Until recently, it was built from vendor-developed interfaces like CPRI (Common Public Radio Interface) and typically delivered as an end-to-end system by one RAN vendor in each contiguous geographic area.

Lately, with the introduction of 5G services, the RAN is undergoing several changes as shown in Figure 1 below:

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October 12th, 2021

Trends Driving Innovations in Next-Generation Retail Networking

By Amit Thakkar, Senior Director, Product Management, Marvell

The retail segment of the global economy has been one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Lockdowns shuttered stores for extended periods, while social distancing measures significantly impacted foot traffic in these spaces. Now, as consumer demand has shifted rapidly from physical to virtual stores, the sector is looking to reinvent itself and apply lessons learned from the pandemic. One important piece of knowledge that has surfaced across the retail industry: Investing in critical data infrastructure is a must in order to rapidly accommodate changes in consumption patterns.

Consumers have become much more conscious of the digital experience and, as such, prefer a seamless transition in shopping experiences across both virtual and brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers are revisiting investment in network infrastructure to ensure that the network is “future-proofed” to withstand consumer demand swings. It will be critical to offer new customer-focused, personalized experiences such as cashier-less stores and smart shopping in a manner that is secure, resilient, and high performance. Infrastructure companies will need to be able to bring a complete set of technology options to meet the digital transformation needs of the modern distributed enterprise.

Highlighted below are five emerging technology trends in enterprise networking that are driving innovations in the retail industry to build the modern store experience.

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