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January 14th, 2021

What’s Next in System Integration and Packaging? New Approaches to Networking and Cloud Data Center Chip Design

By Wolfgang Sauter, Wolfgang Sauter, Customer Solutions Architect - Packaging, Marvell

The continued evolution of 5G wireless infrastructure and high-performance networking is driving the semiconductor industry to unprecedented technological innovations, signaling the end of traditional scaling on Single-Chip Module (SCM) packaging. With the move to 5nm process technology and beyond, 50T Switches, 112G SerDes and other silicon design thresholds, it seems that we may have finally met the end of the road for Moore’s Law.1 The remarkable and stringent requirements coming down the pipe for next-generation wireless, compute and networking products have all created the need for more innovative approaches. So what comes next to keep up with these challenges? Novel partitioning concepts and integration at the package level are becoming game-changing strategies to address the many challenges facing these application spaces.

During the past two years, leaders in the industry have started to embrace these new approaches to modular design, partitioning and package integration. In this paper, we will look at what is driving the main application spaces and how packaging plays into next-generation system  architectures, especially as it relates to networking and cloud data center chip design.

Modular Marvell Network Switch MCM

What’s Driving Main Application Spaces?

First, let’s take a look at different application spaces and how package integration is critical to enable the next-generation product solutions. In the wireless application space, the market can be further subdivided into handheld and infrastructure devices. Handheld devices in this space are driven by ultimate density, memory and RF integration to support power and performance requirements, while achieving reasonable consumer price points. Wireless infrastructure products in support of 5G will drive antenna array with RF integration, and on the baseband side, require a modular approach to enable scalable products that meet power, thermal and cost requirements in a small area. In the datacenter, next-generation products will need next-node performance and power efficiency to keep up with demand. Key drivers here are the insatiable need for memory bandwidth and the switch to scalable compute systems with high chip-to-chip bandwidth. Wired networking products already need more silicon area than can fit in a reticle, along with more bandwidth between chips and off-module. This pushes design toward larger package sizes with lower loss, as well as a huge amount of power coupled with high-bandwidth memory (HBM) integration.

The overarching trend then is to integrate more function (and therefore more silicon) into any given product. This task is especially difficult when many of the different functions don’t necessarily want to reside on the same chip. This includes: IO function, analog and RF content, and DRAM technologies. SoCs simply can’t fit all the content needed into one chip. In addition, IP schedules versus technology readiness aren’t always aligned. For instance, processors for compute applications may be better suited to move to the next node, whereas interface IP, such as SerDes, may not be ready for that next node until perhaps a year later.

How does the package play into this?

All of these requirements mean we as semiconductor solution providers must now get more than Moore out of the package meaning: we need to get more data and more functionality out of the package, while driving more cost out.

As suitable packaging solutions become increasingly complex and expensive, the need to focus on optimized architectures becomes imperative. The result is a balancing act between the cost, area and complexity of the chip versus the package. Spending more on the package may be a wise call if it helps to significantly reduce chip cost (e.g. splitting a large chip in two halves). But the opposite may be true when the package complexity starts overwhelming the product cost, which can now frequently be seen on complex 2.5D products with HBM integration. Therefore, the industry is starting to embrace new packaging and architectural concepts such as modular packages, chiplet design with chip-to-chip interfaces, or KGD integrated packages. An example of this was the announcement of the AMD Epyc 2 Rome chiplet design which marries its 7nm Zen 2 Cores with 14nm I/O die. As articulated in the introductory review by Anton Shilov of AnandTech at the time of its announcement, “Separating CPU chiplets from the I/O die has its advantages because it enables AMD to make the CPU chiplets smaller as physical interfaces (such as DRAM and Infinity Fabric) do not scale that well with shrinks of process technology. Therefore, instead of making CPU chiplets bigger and more expensive to manufacture, AMD decided to incorporate DRAM and some other I/O into a separate chip.”

These new approaches are revolutionizing chip design as we know it. As the industry moves toward modularity, interface IP and package technology must be co-optimized. Interface requirements must be optimized for low power and high efficiency, while enabling a path to communicate with chips from other suppliers. These new packaging and systems designs must also be compatible with industry specs. The package requirements must enable lower loss in the package while also enabling higher data bandwidth (i.e. a larger package, or alternative data transfer through cables, CPO, etc.).

What’s Next for Data Center Packaging and Design?

This is the first in a two-part series about the challenges and exciting breakthroughs happening in systems integration and packaging as the industry moves beyond the traditional Moore’s Law model. In the next segment we will discuss how packaging and deep package expertise are beginning to share center stage with architecture design to create a new sweet spot for integration and next-generation modular design. We will also focus on how these new chip offerings will unleash opportunities specifically in the data center including acceleration, smartNICs, process, security and storage offload. As we embark on this new era of chip design, we will see how next-generation ASICs will help meet the expanding demands of wired networking and Cloud Data Center chip design to power the data center all the way to the network edge.

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1 Moore’s Law, an observation or projection articulated in 1971 stated that the number of transistors in integrated circuit chips would double every two years.

January 11th, 2021

Industry’s First NVMe Boot Device for HPE® ProLiant® and HPE Apollo Servers Delivers Simple, Secure and Reliable Boot Solution based on Innovative Technology from Marvell

By Todd Owens, Technical Marketing Manager, Marvell

Today, operating systems (OSs) like VMware recommend that OS data be kept completely separated from user data using non-network RAID storage. This is a best practice for any virtualized operating system including VMware, Microsoft Azure Stack HCI (Storage Spaces Direct) and Linux. Thanks to innovative flash memory technology from Marvell, a new secure, reliable and easy-to-use OS boot solution is now available for Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) servers.

While there are 32GB micro-SD or USB boot device options available today with VMware requiring as much as 128GB of storage for the OS and Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct needing 200GB — these solutions simply don’t have the storage capacity needed. Using hardware RAID controllers and disk drives in the server bays is another option. However, this adds significant cost and complexity to a server configuration just to meet the OS requirement. The proper solution to address separating the OS from user data is the HPE NS204i-p NVME OS Boot Device.

Thanks to innovative NVMe technology from Marvell, this award winning boot device from HPE delivers reliable and easy-to-use server boot capability for system administrators deploying HPE servers. The HPE NS204i-p is a standalone solution that requires a single PCIe slot in the server and uses standard OS NVMe drivers to provide 480GB of secure RAID 1 storage for the OS data. No special software is required for the RAID management as everything is self-contained in the hardware.

The target customer is anyone using HPE ProLiant or HPE Apollo servers with VMware or any other virtual server OS looking to optimize server platform density by eliminating the need to use drive bays for OS data storage. That also means it is ideal for any hyperconverged infrastructure solution, as they are all based on virtual server operating systems. This includes HPE vSAN ready nodes, HPE ProLiant DX servers for Nutanix, Microsoft Azure Stack HCI implementations and HPE Nimble DHCI, to name a few. This also provides another option for HPE ProLiant customers wanting to deploy diskless servers that connect to shared storage disk arrays, such as HPE Primera or HPE Nimble storage.

The HPE NS204i-p is the industry’s first NVMe boot controller. This single-slot PCIe controller includes 480GB of integrated RAID 1 storage that provides complete isolation of the OS data from the user data in the server. The HPE NS204i-p supports secure firmware update and is designed to allow the OS to be installed on the device using mirrored RAID 1 storage. The new boot device is supported on select HPE ProLiant and HPE Apollo server and systems as shown in the list below.

It should be noted that no user data should be stored on the NS204i-p, only Server OS and boot data. The drives used are read-intensive, so they are ideal for booting an OS, but are not optimal for random access to user data. In addition, there are only two lanes of the PCIe bus connected to these drives, meaning random access performance would be limited. The enterprise-class M.2 drives support Power Loss Protection and are replaceable should a failure occur.

The solution is centered around the Marvell 88NR2241 NVMe RAID accelerator. This device connects to two 480GB M.2 NVMe drives over a PCIe bus on the board and provides two critical functions. First, the Marvell 88NR2241 ASIC provides automatic RAID 1 protection and management for data stored on the drives. In addition, it presents a virtual drive to the host CPU over the server PCIe bus, making the entire device look just like a single 480GB NVMe drive. Because it is presented as a standard NVMe drive, native OS NVMe drivers are used for VMware, Microsoft and Linux operating systems. With no special drivers or software to install, this solution is greatly simplified as compared to traditional RAID controllers or software RAID installations.

Management for the HPE NS204i-p is built into the device itself. There is no user configuration or setup required. The administrator can access the device using the HPE iLO and UEFI system management console. Device configuration details, firmware versions and RAID configuration information can be viewed by the administrator. This information is read-only, and there is nothing for the administrator to configure on the device. The administrator can execute what is called “Media Patrol” on the device, which performs a sector-by-sector data consistency check on the two M.2 NVMe drives. But that’s it. There is nothing else to configure or manage on the HPE NS204i-p.

In summary, when deploying HPE ProLiant servers or HPE Apollo systems with virtualized operating systems, the HPE NS204i-p NVMe OS Boot Device is an ideal default setup for server configurations. This device provides a simple, secure, reliable and cost-effective way to separate the OS and user data within the virtualized server. For more information view the product overview video, or for questions contact the Marvell HPE team.

December 1st, 2020

Superior Performance in the Borderless Enterprise – White Paper

By Gidi Navon, Principal System Architect, Marvell

Superior Performance in the Borderless Enterprise – White Paper

The current environment and an expected “new normal” are driving the transition to a borderless enterprise that must support increasing performance requirements and evolving business models. The infrastructure is seeing growth in the number of endpoints (including IoT) and escalating demand for data such as high-definition content. Ultimately, wired and wireless networks are being stretched as data-intensive applications and cloud migrations continue to rise.

A refresh cycle of the enterprise network is necessarily transpiring. Innovative devices with high-speed SerDes and new Ethernet port types fabricated in advanced process nodes are achieving higher performance and scale on similar power envelopes. This refresh includes next-generation stackable switches for the access layer connected to Wi-Fi access points; alongside these are evolving aggregation switches with high-speed fiber transceivers and core switches based on new chassis architectures. 

For an in-depth analysis of the performance requirements of the borderless enterprise, with solutions based on the newly announced Prestera® devices to help address these needs, download the white paper.

November 12th, 2020

Flash Memory Summit Names Marvell a 2020 Best of Show Award Winner

By Lindsey Moore, Marketing Coordinator, Marvell

Marvell wins FMS Award for Most Innovative Technology

Flash Memory Summit, the industry’s largest trade show dedicated to flash memory and solid-state storage technology, presented its 2020 Best of Show Awards yesterday in a virtual ceremony. Marvell, alongside Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), was named a winner for “Most Innovative Flash Memory Technology” in the controller/system category for the Marvell NVMe RAID accelerator in the HPE OS Boot Device.

Last month, Marvell introduced the industry’s first native NVMe RAID 1 accelerator, a state-of-the-art technology for virtualized, multi-tenant cloud and enterprise data center environments which demand optimized reliability, efficiency, and performance. HPE is the first of Marvell’s partners to support the new accelerator in the HPE NS204i-p NVMe OS Boot Device offered on select HPE ProLiant servers and HPE Apollo systems. The solution lowers data center total cost of ownership (TCO) by offloading RAID 1 processing from costly and precious server CPU resources, maximizing application processing performance.

“Enterprise IT environments need to protect the integrity of flash data storage while delivering an optimized, application-level user experience,” said Jay Kramer, Chairman of the Awards Program and President of Network Storage Advisors Inc. “We are proud to recognize the Marvell NVMe RAID Accelerator for efficiently offloading RAID 1 processing and directly connecting to two NVMe M.2 SSDs allowing the HPE OS boot solution to consume a single PCIe slot.”

More information about the 15th Annual Flash Memory Summit Best of Show Award Winners can be found here.

October 30th, 2020

Adhir Mattu Named Global Winner of the 2020 Bay Area CIO of the Year ORBIE Awards

By Lindsey Moore, Marketing Coordinator, Marvell

The BayAreaCIO recognized chief information officers in eight key categories – Leadership, Super Global, Global, Large Enterprise, Enterprise, Large Corporate, Corporate, and Nonprofit/Public Sector.

“The BayAreaCIO ORBIE winners demonstrate the value great leadership creates. Especially in these uncertain times, CIOs are leading in unprecedented ways and enabling the largest work-from-home experiment in history,” according to Lourdes Gipson, Executive Director of BayAreaCIO. “The ORBIE Awards are meaningful because they are judged by peers – CIOs who understand how difficult this job is and why great leadership matters.”

The CIO of the Year ORBIE Awards is the premier technology executive recognition program in the United States. Since inception in 1998, over 1,200 CIOs have been honored as finalists and over 300 CIO of the Year winners have received the prestigious ORBIE Award. The ORBIE honors chief information officers who have demonstrated excellence in technology leadership.

Congratulations again to our very own Adhir Mattu on this honorable win!

To learn more about the winners (Click Here)

October 30th, 2020

Matt Murphy Talks Inphi Acquisition on CNBC’s Squawk Alley

By Stacey Keegan, Vice President, Corporate Marketing, Marvell

Yesterday Marvell announced its intent to join forces with Inphi, a leader in high-speed data movement. A premier company in the semiconductor industry, and one of the highest regarded companies in our space, Inphi’s highly complementary portfolio accelerates growth and leadership in cloud and 5G. The combination of the two companies is expected to create a U.S. semiconductor powerhouse with an enterprise value of approximately $40 billion.

Combined with explosive Internet traffic growth and the rollout of new ultra-fast 5G wireless networks, the importance of Inphi’s high-speed data interconnect solutions will only accelerate. The merged company will be uniquely positioned to serve the data-driven world, addressing high growth, attractive end markets – cloud data center and 5G.

President and CEO of Marvell, Matt Murphy had the opportunity to discuss the deal with CNBC’s Squawk Alley team after the news broke yesterday morning. Catch a replay of that video broadcast here to learn more.

Press Release: (Click Here)


Analyst commentary from Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy and Daniel Newman of Futurum Research: (Click Here)

October 27th, 2020

Unleashing a Better Gaming Experience with NVMe RAID

By Shahar Noy, Senior Director, Product Marketing

You are an avid gamer. You spend countless hours in forums to decide between the ASUS TUF components and researching Radeon RX 500 or GeForce RTX 20, to ensure games would show at their best on your hard-earned PC gaming rig. You made your selection and can’t stop bragging about your system’s ray tracing capabilities and how realistic is the “Forza Motorsport 7” view from your McLaren F1 GT cockpit when you drive through the legendary Le Mans circuit at dusk. You are very proud of your machine and the year 2020 is turning out to be good: Microsoft finally launched the gorgeous looking “Flight Simulator 2020,” and CD Projekt just announced that the beloved and award-winning “The Witcher 3” is about to get an upgrade to take advantage of the myriad of hardware updates available to serious gamers like you. You have your dream system in hand and life can’t be better.

You are frustrated though because something doesn’t feel right. Booting your PC takes forever, and on top of this, loading new advanced texture-rich games is very, very long, but the worst of it – some games have a prolonged “no action” period between scenes. You are puzzled about the latter, but you just learned that game developers use many tricks to mask slow scene (“asset”) load time. In advanced games, in order to load two rich environments where enough textures and models are required to fill the memory, the developers will have to add a long staircase or elevator ride or a windy corridor, to buy enough time (sometimes up to 30 seconds!) to ditch the old assets and load new ones instead. You start realizing that upgrading your HDD or SSD might be all it takes to get your system to the next level and provide the ultimate gaming experience. A faster SSD that can match the CPU and GPU capabilities of your system will ensure storage is no longer the bottleneck, enabling improved system boot-time, faster game-loading, and quicker world and new scene changes to keep an active and engaging experience.

You consult with your friends and they show off their new polished Ryzen 9 but you are a diehard Intel fan and won’t even consider giving up your i5. You are worried, because they have a new platform with PCIe Gen4 and you are a generation behind with your Gen3 system. Your best buddy, who just got an offer to join a pro Overwatch Team gunning for next year’s OWL Grand Finals, urges you to invest in a new system with Gen4 interfaces to boost your storage performance but you want to enjoy your existing rig for longer and your budget is limited. We know 2020 has been tough on many of us, but every cloud has a silver lining and, in this case, it is Marvell’s collaboration with Western Digital that has introduced one of the highest performing SSD solutions to unlock more of your existing system potential.

Benefits of NVMe RAID

Marvell and Western Digital have been listening to gamers and collaborated on the introduction of Western Digital’s WD_BLACKTM AN1500 NVMeTM SSD Add-In-Card to provide a better storage solution for gamers who are on PCIe Gen3 platforms (or even PCIe Gen4) and need more performance. By using Marvell’s advanced native hardware NVMe RAID engine, Western Digital can now double the capacity and significantly improve the performance over a single WD_BlackTM SN750 NVMeTM SSD without making any compromises. Marvell’s NVMe RAID technology was designed to connect two Gen3 SSDs through an extremely low latency engine and combine them into one bigger and faster SSD. The benefit of NVMe RAID is that the throughput of read and write operations to any file is multiplied by the number of drives since reads and writes are done concurrently. The two SSDs run in parallel and are exposed to the host as a single drive, unlocking higher capacity and throughput capabilities. In some ways you can think of this technology as combining Mario and Luigi into one mega character with greater powers who can easily take down Bowser in “Super Mario 3”!

Here is a quick comparison between the new WD_BLACK AN1500 NVMe SSD Add-In-Card and WD_BLACK SN750 NVMe SSD at similar capacity:

 

WD_BLACK AN1500

WD_BLACK SN750

PCIe Interface

Gen3x8

Gen3x4

Capacity

2TB

2TB

Performance (Spec)

 

 

Sequential Read

6.5GB/s

3.4GB/s

Random Write

780,000 IOPS

560,000 IOPS


When you consider what SSD will work best for gaming there are two critical metrics which provide good “real life” performance indicators – the sustained read performance and the mixed read/write performance.

The sustained read will indicate how fast the game can load and how effective is the new assets loading time during a game; the faster it is, the quicker your GPU can process the data and render it to the screen, providing better overall gaming experience.

AN1500 (red) peak above 5GB/s and even beat Sabrent PCI Gen4
Source: https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/wd-black-an1500-nvme-aic-ssd-review/2
AN1500 (red) peak above 5GB/s and even beat Sabrent PCI Gen4
Single SN750 hit 3GB/s with big blocks
Source: https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/wd-black-sn750-ssd,5957-2.html
Single SN750 hit 3GB/s with big blocks

In the chart above WD_BLACK AN1500 is 66% faster than WD_BLACK SN750 testing the same 2TB overall SSD capacity. It is amazing to see WD_BLACK AN1500 Gen3 performance beat other Gen4 SSDs and get closer to Samsung’s latest Gen4 SSD! The WD_BLACK AN1500 performance advantage, coupled with the ever-growing file size of games, can improve game load time by minutes and make new scenes available seconds earlier.

Mixed read/write, on the other hand, is important when your OS or game starts saving fragments of data. The OS constantly updates small fragments of the meta-data in case your system crashes and you need to recover your boot with minimum disruptions. The game itself can autosave the details of your progress and although it requires only small infrequent writes, it is extremely important that those be serviced quickly by the SSD. This enables the SSD to focus back on its main task – sustaining fast read performance in order to transfer big chunks of rich graphics data to the GPU and ensure quick game and scene load times.

In Boot, the WD_BLACK AN1500 came in first by a wide margin yet again with 174,143 IOPS with a latency of 183.8µs
Source: https://www.storagereview.com/review/wd_black-an1500-aic-ssd-review
In Boot, the WD_BLACK AN1500 came in first by a wide margin yet again with 174,143 IOPS with a latency of 183.8µs
The WD_BLACK SN750 went on to peak in third place with 115,170 IOPS at a latency of 282.5μs.
Source: https://www.storagereview.com/review/wd-black-sn750-nvme-ssd-review
The WD_BLACK SN750 went on to peak in third place with 115,170 IOPS at a latency of 282.5μs.

VDI Boot is a good indicator of mixed read/write transactions during an enterprise grade boot process. In this test the SSD is taxed with mixed operations and the results indicate real word random (IOPS) and latency measurements. In this test WD_BLACK AN1500 IOPS were higher by 51% compared to WD_BLACK SN750 and the only Gen3 drive to perform at sub 200us latency, therefore clearing up small fragmented writes very quickly, minimizing SSD bottleneck, and going back to service the intense read requests.

Summary

It is 2020 and it is not all gloomy. Marvell and Western Digital collaborated to provide these superhero-like storage speeds to elevate the gaming experience of your system to a whole new level. With the WD_BLACK AN1500 NVMe SSD Add-In-Card, fully equipped with an integrated heatsink and RGB lighting, you will be able to spend more time playing and less time waiting! Enjoy circling the Eiffel Tower piloting your 787 in “Flight Simulator” with quicker game and map loading times. Immerse yourself in “The Witcher 3”, controlling Geralt of Rivia as he combs quicker through the open world of Continent for monsters. Lastly, with your faster machine you can practice your skills more often and rise through the ranks in Overwatch Open and Contenders Divisions, so next time you team with your friends in a 6v6 match, there is no question who is heading into the finals!