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Archive for the ‘Connectivity’ Category

November 5th, 2018

Enhanced Wireless Microcontroller Enables Affordable Design

By Sree Durbha, Head of Smart-Connected Business, Marvell

Today, we are at the peak of technology product availability with the releases of the new iPhone models, Alexa enabled devices and more. In the coming days, there will be numerous international consumer OEMs preparing new offerings as we approach the holiday selling season. Along with the smartphones, voice assistant enabled smart speakers and deep learning wireless security cameras, many devices and appliances are increasingly geared toward automating the home, the office and the factory. These devices are powered by application microcontroller units (MCUs) with embedded wireless connectivity to help users to remotely control and operate them via phone apps, voice or even through mere presence. This is part of an industry trend of pushing intelligence into everyday things. According to analyst firm Techno Systems Research1, this chipset market grew by more than 60% over the course of the last year and is likely to continue this high rate of growth.

The democratization of wireless connectivity intellectual property and the continuing shift of semiconductor design and development to low cost regions is helping give rise to new industry players. In order to help customers differentiate in this highly competitive market, Marvell has announced the 88MW320/322 low-power Wi-Fi microcontroller SoC. This chipset is 100% pin-compatible and software compatible with the existing 88MW300/302 based designs. Although the newly released microcontroller is cost-optimized, there are several key hardware and software enhancements in this chipset.

Support for extended industrial temperature operation, from -400 C through to 1050 C has been added. Unlike its predecessor, the 88MW320/322 can be implemented into more challenging application areas – such as LED lighting and industrial automation. No RF specific changes have been made within the silicon, so the minimum and maximum RF performance parameters remain the same as before. However, other fixes made have helped improve typical RF performance as reported by some of our customers when evaluating samples. Since there was no change in form, fit or function, the external RF interface remains the same as well. This enables customers to leverage existing 88MW300/302 module and device level regulatory certification on 88MW320/322. A hardware security feature has also been incorporated that allows customers to uniquely tie the chipset to the firmware running on it. This helps prevent counterfeit software to run on the chipset.

This chipset is supported by the industry-leading Marvell EZ-Connect SDK for Apple’s new Advanced Development Kit (ADK) and Release 13 HomeKit Accessory Protocol SDK (R13 HAPSDK) with software-based authentication (SoftAuth), Amazon’s AWS IoT and other third-party cloud platforms. The Apple SoftAuth support now allows customers to avoid the cost and hassle of adding the MFi authentication chip, which was previously required to get HomeKit certification. On the applications side, we have added support for the Alexa Voice Services library. With MP3 decoder and OAUTH2 modules integrated on our SDK, our solution now allows customers to add an external audio-codec chipset to offer native voice command translation for basic product control functions.

As previously announced, we continue to partner with Dialog Semiconductor to offer support for BLE with shared antenna managed coexistence software with our Wi-Fi on 88MW320/322. Several of our module vendor partners have announced support for this chipset in standalone and Wi-Fi + BLE combo configurations. You can find a complete list of modules supporting this chipset on the Marvell Wireless Microcontrollers page.

The 88MW320/322 has been sampling to customers for a few months now and is currently shipping. The product comes in 68-pin QFN package (88MW320) and 88-pin QFN package (88MW322) formats. It is available in commercial, extended, industrial and extended industrial temperature ranges in both tray and tape and reel configurations.

Watch this space for future announcements as we extend the availability of Marvell’s solutions for the smart home, office and factory to our customers through our catalog partners. The goal is to enable our wireless microcontroller solutions with easy to install one-click software that allows smaller customers to use our partner reference designs to develop their form factor proof of concept designs with hardware, firmware, middleware, cloud connectivity software, collateral and application support from a single source. This will free up their resources so that they can focus on what is most important to them – which is to work on application software and differentiation.

The best is yet to come. As the industry demands solutions with higher levels of integration at ever lower power to allow for wireless products with several months and even years of battery life, you can count on Marvell to innovate to help meet customer needs. For example, the 802.11ax standard specification is not just for high efficiency and high throughput designs, it also offers provisions for low power, long battery life designs. 20MHz only channel operation in the 5GHz band and features such as target wake time (TWT), which helps extend the sleep cycle of devices; dual sub-carrier modulation (DCM), which helps extend the wireless range; uplink and downlink OFDMA, all contribute to make the next generation of devices worth waiting for.

1. 2017 Wireless Connectivity Market Analysis, August, 2018

August 3rd, 2018

Infrastructure Powerhouse: Marvell and Cavium become one!

By Todd Owens, Technical Marketing Manager, Marvell

Marvell’s acquisition of Cavium closed on July 6th, 2018 and the integration is well under way. Cavium becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of Marvell.  Our combined mission as Marvell is to develop and deliver semiconductor solutions that process, move, store and secure the world’s data faster and more reliably than anyone else. The combination of the two companies makes for an infrastructure powerhouse, serving a variety of customers in the Cloud/Data Center, Enterprise/Campus, Service Providers, SMB/SOHO, Industrial and Automotive industries.

For our business with HPE, the first thing you need to know is it is business as usual. The folks you engaged with on I/O and processor technology we provided to HPE before the acquisition are the same you engage with now.  Marvell is a leading provider of storage technologies, including ultra-fast read channels, high performance processors and transceivers that are found in the vast majority of hard disk drive (HDD) and solid-state drive (SDD) modules used in HPE ProLiant and HPE Storage products today.

Our industry leading QLogic® 8/16/32Gb Fibre Channel and FastLinQ® 10/20/25/50Gb Ethernet I/O technology will continue to provide connectivity for HPE Server and Storage solutions. The focus for these products will continue to be the intelligent I/O of choice for HPE, with the performance, flexibility, and reliability we are known for.

Marvell’s Portfolio of FastLinQ Ethernet and QLogic Fibre Channel I/O Adapters

We will continue to provide ThunderX2® Arm® processor technology for HPC servers like the HPE Apollo 70 for high-performance compute applications. We will also continue to provide Ethernet networking technology that is embedded into HPE Servers and Storage today and Marvell ASIC technology used for the iLO5 baseboard management controller (BMC) in all HPE ProLiant and HPE Synergy Gen10 servers.

iLO 5 for HPE ProLiant Gen10 is deployed on Marvell SoCs

That sounds great, but what’s going to change over time?
The combined company now has a much broader portfolio of technology to help HPE deliver best-in-class solutions at the edge, in the network and in the data center.

Marvell has industry-leading switching technology from 1GbE to 100GbE and beyond. This enables us to deliver connectivity from the IoT edge, to the data center and the cloud. Our Intelligent NIC technology provides compression, encryption and more to enable customers to analyze network traffic faster and more intelligently than ever before. Our security solutions and enhanced SoC and Processor capabilities will help our HPE design-in team collaborate with HPE to innovate next-generation server and storage solutions.

Down the road, you’ll see a shift in our branding and where you access info over time as well. While our product-specific brands, like ThunderX2 for Arm, or QLogic for Fibre Channel and FastLinQ for Ethernet will remain, many things will transition from Cavium to Marvell. Our web-based resources will start to change as will our email addresses. For example, you can now access our HPE Microsite at www.marvell.com/hpe . Soon, you’ll be able to contact us at “hpesolutions@marvell.com” as well. The collateral you leverage today will be updated over time. In fact, this has already started with updates to our HPE-specific Line Card, our HPE Ethernet Quick Reference Guide, our Fibre Channel Quick Reference Guides and our presentation materials. Updates will continue over the next few months.

In summary, we are bigger and better. We are one team that is more focused than ever to help HPE, their partners and customers thrive with world-class technology we can bring to bear. If you want to learn more, engage with us today. Our field contact details are here. We are all excited for this new beginning to make “I/O and Infrastructure Matter!” each and every day.

May 31st, 2018

Why is 802.11ax a “must have” for the connected car?

By Avinash Ghirnikar, Director of Technical Marketing of Connectivity Business Group, Marvell

Imagine motoring along through busy, urban traffic in your new connected car that is learning, getting smarter, safer and more reliable as it is driving. Such a car is constantly gathering and generating all kinds of data that is intermittently and opportunistically being uploaded to the cloud. As more cars on the road feature advanced wireless connectivity, this exciting future will become commonplace. However, each car will need to share the network with potentially hundreds of other cars that might be in its vicinity.

While such a use case could potentially rely on LTE/5G cellular technology, the costs associated with employing such a “licensed pipe” would be prohibitively expensive. In such situations, the new Wi-Fi® standard 802.11ax, also known as high efficiency wireless (HEW), will be a life saver for the automotive industry. The zettabytes of data that cars equipped with a slew of sensors will create in the years to come will all need to be uploaded to the cloud and data centers, enabling next-generation machine learning in order to make driving increasingly safe and predictable in the future. Uploading this data will, of course, need to be done both securely and reliably.

The car – as an 802.11ax station (STA) – will also be to able upload data to an 802.11ax access point (AP) in the most challenging of wireless environments while sharing the network with other clients. The 802.11ax system will be able to do this via technologies like MU-MIMO and OFDMA (allowing for spatial, frequency and time reuse) which are new innovations that are part of this emerging standard. Today, STAs compete rather than effectively share the network and have to deal with the dreaded “circle of death”’ awaiting connectivity. This is because today’s wireless standard can often be in an all-or-nothing binary mode of operation due to constant competition. When coupled with other upcoming standards like 802.11ai, specifically fast initial link setup (FILS), this vision of cars uploading data to the cloud over Wi-Fi becomes a true reality, even in environments where the car is moving and likely hopping from one AP to another.

While this “under the hood” upload use case is greatly enhanced by the 802.11ax standard from an infrastructure perspective, download of software and firmware into connected cars can also be transformed by this same standard. It is well known that the number of processors and electronic control units (ECUs) in car models is expected to increase dramatically. This, in turn, implies that the software/firmware content in these cars will likewise grow at exponential rates. Periodic firmware over-the-air (FOTA) updates will be required and, therefore, having a reliable and robust mechanism to support this will be vital for automobile manufacturers – potentially saving them millions of dollars in relation to servicing costs, etc.  Such is the pace of innovation and technological change these days that this can sometimes happen almost immediately after cars come off the assembly line.

Take the example of a parking lot outside an auto plant containing hundreds of brand new cars requiring some of their software to be updated.  Here, too, 802.11ax can come to the rescue by making a mass update more efficient and reliable. This advantage will then carry forward for the rest of the lifespan of each car, since it can never be predicted what sort of wireless connectivity environment these cars will encounter. These could be challenging environments like garages, driveways, and maybe even parking decks. The modulation enhancements that 802.11ax delivers, coupled with MU-MIMO and OFDMA features, will ensure that the most efficient and reliable Wi-Fi pipe is always available for such a critical function. Given that a car can easily be on the road for close to a decade, having this functionality built in from day one would be a tremendous advantage and could enable significant cost savings. Again, accompanying technologies like Wake on Bluetooth® Low Energy and Bluetooth Low Energy Long Range will also play a pivotal role in ensuring this use case is realized from an overall end-to-end system standpoint.

These two infrastructure type use cases are likely to be tremendous value-adds for the connected car and can justify the presence of 802.11ax, especially from an automobile manufacturers’ point of view. Even consumers are likely to see significant benefits in their vehicle dashboards where the mobile APs in their infotainment systems will be able to seamlessly connect to their latest smartphone handsets (which will themselves be 802.11ax capable within the 2019 timeframe). Use cases like Wireless Apple CarPlay®, Wireless Android Auto™ Projection, rear seat entertainment, wireless cameras, etc. will all be a breeze given the additional 30-40% throughput enhancement in 802.11ax (and the backward compatibility this standard has with previous Wi-Fi standards for such use cases to cooperatively coexist).  Just as in homes, the number of Wi-Fi endpoints in cars is also proliferating. The 802.11ax standard is the only well-designed path for an increasing number of endpoints and yet provides the best user experience.

The 802.11ax as Release 1 (aka Wave 1) is well on its way to a concrete launch by the Wi-Fi Alliance in the second half of 2019. Products are already being sampled by silicon vendors – both on the AP and STA/mobile AP side – and interoperability testing is well underway. For all wireless system designers at OEMs and their Tier 1 suppliers, the 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard should be a goal, and especially for any product launch set for 2020 and beyond.  The time has come to begin future proofing for the impending arrival of 802.11ax infrastructure. The days of the wireless technology in your smartphone/home/enterprise and in your car belonging to different generations are long gone. Consumers demand that their cars now be an extension of their home/work environments and that all of these living spaces function as one. The 802.11ax is destined to be one of the key pillars of technology to make such a vision a reality.

Marvell has been a pioneer in designing Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo devices for the automotive market since the debut of such devices in cars in 2011. With actual development beginning almost a decade ago, Marvell’s automotive wireless portfolio has been honed to address key use cases over five generations of products, through working closely with OEMs, Tier 1s and Tier 2s. All the technologies needed to achieve the various use cases described above have been incorporated into Marvell’s fifth generation device. Coupled with Marvell’s offering for enterprise class, high-performance APs, Marvell remains committed to providing the automobile industry and car buyers with the best wireless connectivity experience — encompassing use cases inside and outside of the car today, and well into the future.