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Archive for the ‘Internet of Things’ Category

April 29th, 2019

RoCE or iWARP for Low Latency?

By Todd Owens, Technical Marketing Manager, Marvell

Today, Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) is primarily being utilized within high performance computing or cloud environments to reduce latency across the network.  Enterprise customers will soon require low latency networking that RDMA offers so that they can address a variety of different applications, such as Oracle and SAP, and also implement software-defined storage using Windows Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) or VMware vSAN.  There are three protocols that can be used in RDMA deployment: RDMA over InfiniBand, RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE), and RDMA over iWARP.  Given that there are several possible routes to go down, how do you ensure you pick the right protocol for your specific tasks?

In the enterprise sector, Ethernet is by far the most popular transport technology.  Consequently, we can ignore the InfiniBand option, as it would require a forklift upgrade to the I/O existing infrastructure – thus making it way too costly for the vast majority of enterprise data centers.  So, that just leaves RoCE and iWARP.  Both can provide low latency connectivity over Ethernet networks.  But which is right for you?

Let’s start by looking at the fundamental differences between these two protocols.  RoCE is the most popular of the two and is already being used by many cloud hyper-scale customers worldwide.  RDMA enabled adapters running RoCE are available from a variety of vendors including Marvell.

RoCE provides latency at the adapter in the 1-5us range but requires a lossless Ethernet network to achieve low latency operation.  This means that the Ethernet switches integrated into the network must support data center bridging and priority flow control mechanisms so that lossless traffic is maintained.  It is likely they will therefore have to be reconfigured to use RoCE.  The challenge with the lossless or converged Ethernet environment is that configuration is a complex process and scalability can be very limited in a modern enterprise context.

Now it is not impossible to use RoCE at scale but to do so requires the implementation of additional traffic congestion control mechanisms, like Data Center Quantized Congestion Notification (DCQCN), which in turn calls for large, highly-experienced teams of network engineers and administrators.  Though this is something that hyper-scale customers have access to, not all enterprise customers can say the same.  Their human resources and financial budgets can be more limited.

Going back through the history of converged Ethernet environments, one must look no further than Fibre Channel over Converged Ethernet (FCoE) to see the size of the challenge involved.  Five years ago, many analysts and industry experts claimed FCoE would replace Fibre Channel in the data center.  That simply didn’t happen because of the complexity associated with using converged Ethernet networks at scale.  FCoE still survives, but only in closed environments like HPE BladeSystem or HPE Synergy servers, where the network properties and scale are carefully controlled.  These are single-hop environments with only a few connections in each system.

Finally, we come to iWARP.  This came on the scene after RoCE and has the advantage of running on today’s standard TCP/IP networks.  It provides latency at the adapter in the range of 10-15us.  This is higher than what one can achieve by implementing RoCE but is still orders of magnitude below that of standard Ethernet adapters.

They say, if all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.  That’s the same when it comes to vendors touting their RDMA-enabled adapters.  Most vendors only support one protocol, so of course that is the protocol they will recommend.  Here at Marvell, we are unique in that with our Universal RDMA technology, a customer can use both RoCE and iWARP on the same adapter.  This gives us more credibility when making recommendations and means that we are effectively protocol agnostic.  It is really important from a customer standpoint, as it means that we look at what is the best fit for their application criteria.

So which RDMA protocol do you use when?  Well, when latency is the number one criteria and scalability is not a concern, the choice should be RoCE.  You will see RoCE implemented as the back-end network in modern disk arrays, between the controller node and NVMe drives.  You will also find RoCE deployed within a rack or where there is only one or two top-of-rack switches and subnets to contend with.  Conversely, when latency is a key requirement, but ease-of-use and scalability are also high priorities, iWARP is the best candidate.  It runs on the existing network infrastructure and can easily scale between racks and even long distances across data centers.   A great use case for iWARP is as the network connectivity option for Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct implementations.

The good news for enterprise customers is that several Marvell® FastLinQ® Ethernet Adapters from HPE support Universal RDMA, so they can take advantage of low latency RDMA in the way that best suits them.  Here’s a list of HPE Ethernet adapters that currently support both RoCE and iWARP RDMA.

With RDMA-enabled adapters for HPE ProLiant, Apollo, HPE Synergy and HPE Cloudline servers, Marvell has a strong portfolio of 10Gb or 25GbE connectivity solutions for data centers.  In addition to supporting low latency RDMA, these adapters are also NVMe-ready.  This means they can accommodate NVMe over Ethernet fabrics running RoCE or iWARP, as well as supporting NVMe over TCP (with no RDMA).  They are a great choice for future-proofing the data center today for the workloads of tomorrow.

For more information on these and other Marvell I/O technologies for HPE, go to www.marvell.com/hpe.

If you’d like to talk with one of our I/O experts in the field, you’ll find contact info here.

June 29th, 2018

Marvell Helps to Bring HD Video Capabilities to New Entry-Level Drone

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

The consumer drone market has expanded greatly over the last few years, with almost 3 million units shipped during 2017. This upward trend is likely to continue. Analyst firm Statista forecasts that the commercial drone business will be worth $6.4 billion annually by 2020, while Global Market Insights has predicted that the worldwide drone market will grow to $17 billion (with the consumer category accounting for $9 billion of that). As new products are continually being introduced into what is already an acutely overcrowded marketplace, a differentiated offering is therefore critical to a successful product.

One of the newest and most exciting entrants into this crowded drone market, Tello, features functionality that sets it apart from rival offerings. Tello is manufactured by Shenzhen-based start-up Ryze Tech, a subsidiary of well-known brand DJI, which is the world’s largest producer of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). With a 13 minute runtime, plus a flight distance of up to 100 meters, this is an extremely maneuverable and compact quadcopter drone. It weighs just 80 grams and can fit into the palm of a typical teenager’s hand (with dimensions of 98 x 92.5 x 41 millimeters). The two main goals of the Tello are fun and education. To that end, a smartphone App-based control provides a fun user interface for everyone, including young people, to play with. The educational goal is met through an easy to program visual layout that allows users to write their own code using the comprehensive software development kit (SDK) included in the package. What really distinguishes Tello from other drones, however, is the breadth of its imaging capabilities – and this is where engaging with Marvell has proven pivotal.

Tello’s original drone design requirement called for livestreaming 720p MP4 format video, using its 5 Megapixel image sensor, back to the user’s smartphone or tablet even while traveling at its maximum speed of 8 meters/second. This called for interoperability testing with a broad array of smartphone and tablet models. Due to its small size, conserving battery life would be a key requirement, which meant ultra-low power consumption by Wi-Fi®. Underlying all of this was the singular requirement for a strong wireless connection to be maintained at all times. Finally, as is always the case, Wi-Fi would need to fit in the low bill of materials for the product.

Initial discussions between technical teams at Ryze and Marvell revealed a perfect match between the features offered on the Marvell® 1×1 802.11n single-band Wi-Fi system-on-chip (SoC) and the Wi-Fi requirements for the Tello drone project. This chip was already widely adopted in the market and established itself as a proven solution for various customer applications, including video transmission in IP cameras, mobile routers, IoT gateways etc. Ryze chose this chipset, banking on its reliability while transmitting high-definition video over the air, exceptional RF performance over range while offering ultra-low power operation, all at a competitive price point.

Marvell’s Wi-Fi SoC is a highly integrated, single-band (2.4GHz) IC that delivers IEEE® 802.11b/g/n operation in a single spatial stream (1 SS) configuration. It incorporates a power amplifier (PA), a low noise amplifier (LNA) and a transmit/receive switch. Quality of Service (QoS) is guaranteed through the 802.11e standard implementation. The Wi-Fi SoC’s compliance with the 802.11i security protocol, plus built-in wired equivalent privacy (WEP) algorithms, enable 128-bit encryption of transmitted data, thereby protecting the data from being intercepted by third parties. All of these hardware features are supported by Marvell’s robust Wi-Fi software, which includes a small footprint and full featured Wi-Fi firmware tied in with the hardware level features. Specific features such as infrastructure mode operation were developed to enable the functionality desired by Ryze for the Tello.

Marvell’s industry-leading Wi-Fi technology has enabled an exciting new user experience in the Tello, at a level of sophistication that previously would only have been seen in expensive, professional-grade equipment. In order to bring this professional quality experience to an entry-level drone model meant that significant power, performance and cost barriers were overcome. As we enter the 802.11ax era of Wi-Fi industry transition, expect Marvell to launch first-to-market, ever more envelope-pushing, technological advances such as uplink OFDMA.

 

 

November 8th, 2017

Redefining the Connected Home

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

The concept of a fully ‘connected home’ has been discussed for more than 20 years. However, widespread proliferation has taken far longer than anyone could have originally imagined. For a long time, deployment activity seemed to be limited to a relatively small number of high value installations. These installations were generally complicated to implement and their operation was not very user-friendly. Most importantly, they were composed of an amalgamation of isolated subsystems from different suppliers rather than a single universal system.

Even as home automation started to become accessible from smartphones and tablets, market fragmentation meant that each aspect of the automation technology installed within a home was still based on its own proprietary mechanism that needed a separate app to control it. As a result, home automation systems have often proven inconvenient and frustrating for those operating them and has unquestionably held back their adoption by consumers. The industry fragmentation and lack of interoperability between different vendor ecosystems meant that the consumer couldn’t really take advantage of the connected capabilities of all the various platforms.

The industry is innovating with solutions that seem finally likely to help broaden the appeal of home automation and accelerate its future progression. Through its HomeKit™ technology, Apple is looking to consolidate all the various verticals under a single, comprehensive home automation ecosystem that works together easily and securely. The HomeKit Accessory Protocol (HAP) is enabling hardware from different suppliers involved in home automation to communicate with Apple products (iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch) via a single, consistent, complete platform. This is done via wireless technologies like Bluetooth® Low Energy technology, as well as IP connectivity. The list of different ‘behaviors’ covered by the HomeKit hardware and software technology is extensive. Selecting a playlist for the audio system, turning on the lights in a particular room, remotely starting up home appliances (such as a washer/dryer), adjusting the heating and cooling, and activating the door entry system are just a few examples. But, because all of these functions are controlled via the Apple Home app or by asking Siri (rather than multiple apps), they can now work in tandem. For instance, settings can be configured so that if the curtains in a room were drawn, then the lighting would simultaneously turn on, or the ambient lighting could be changed to fit a certain music playlist.

Marvell is placing itself at the forefront of next generation smart home development through its support of Apple HomeKit. Our family of wireless SoC devices was the first in the industry to secure certification for the original HAP specification three years ago and has consistently been at the forefront as evidenced with our latest HomeKit Accessory Protocol Release 9 (HAP R9) specification. The low power 88MW30x ICs each possess an integrated microcontroller with Cortex®-M4 processing core, plus single-band IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi® functionality. The truly transformational change this time is our SoCs’ certification for iCloud implementation, which enables remote control of HomeKit compliant devices using voice as well as the HomeKit App using iCloud® remote access. This means that OEMs serving the home automation market will be able to make their systems much more streamlined and convenient to seamlessly implement through iCloud. As a result, new use cases are now possible. For example, you can remotely start your thermostat to heat or cool your home using the Apple Home app (or Siri® voice control) while you are still on your way home from work and have the right temperature set for when you arrive.

This technology is showcased in the Marvell® EZ-Connect® HAP software development kit (SDK), which is designed to facilitate the implementation of HomeKit-enabled home automation accessories – accelerating our OEM customers’ design cycles and allowing products to be brought to market more quickly. Complementing its 802.11n wireless connectivity, the incorporated bridging functionality also allows interfacing with equipment using other RF protocols like Bluetooth low energy technology. For example, Marvell has partnered with a leading Bluetooth low energy vendor to offer a combo module reference design that is commercially available today through one of our module vendor partners, Azurewave. Our emphasis on security, encryption and memory partitioning allows secure, over-the-air firmware upgrades so that customer applications can run securely from external Flash memory while being encrypted on the fly. Our SDK also supports Amazon’s popular AWS cloud platform and Google’s Weave/Cloud as alternatives. To accompany the SDK, Marvell intends to provide OEMs with all the collateral necessary to get their products through the HomeKit certification process as rapidly and painlessly as possible and into the market quickly. Useful project examples are also provided.

Marvell understands how crucially important a robust software solution is to enable a hassle free home automation user experience and has developed industry leading software capabilities in support of Apple HomeKit. This has allowed us to get ahead of the game.

October 10th, 2017

Celebrating 20 Years of Wi-Fi – Part II

By Prabhu Loganathan, Senior Director of Marketing for Connectivity Business Unit, Marvell

This is the second instalment in a series of blogs covering the history of Wi-Fi®. While the first part looked at the origins of Wi-Fi, this part will look at how the technology has progressed to the high speed connection we know today.

Wireless Revolution

By the early years of the new millennium, Wi-Fi quickly had started to gain widespread popularity, as the benefits of wireless connectivity became clear. Hotspots began popping up at coffee shops, airports and hotels as businesses and consumers started to realize the potential for Wi-Fi to enable early forms of what we now know as mobile computing. Home users, many of whom were starting to get broadband Internet, were able to easily share their connections throughout the house.

Thanks to the IEEE® 802.11 working group’s efforts, a proprietary wireless protocol that was originally designed simply for connecting cash registers (see previous blog) had become the basis for a wireless networking standard that was changing the whole fabric of society.

Improving Speeds

The advent of 802.11b, in 1999, set the stage for Wi-Fi mass adoption. Its cheaper price point made it accessible for consumers, and its 11 Mbit/s speeds made it fast enough to replace wired Ethernet connections for enterprise users. Driven by the broadband internet explosion in the early years post 2000, 802.11b became a great success. Both consumers and businesses found wireless was a great way to easily share the newfound high speed connections that DSL, cable and other broadband technologies gave them.

As broadband speeds became the norm, consumer’s computer usage habits changed accordingly. Higher bandwidth applications such as music/movie sharing and streaming audio started to see increasing popularity within the consumer space.

Meanwhile, in the enterprise market, wireless had even greater speed demands to contend with, as it was competing with fast local networking over Ethernet. Business use cases (such as VoIP, file sharing and printer sharing, as well as desktop virtualization) needed to work seamlessly if wireless was to be adopted.

Even in the early 2000’s, the speed that 802.11b could support was far from cutting edge. On the wired side of things, 10/100 Ethernet was already a widespread standard. At 100 Mbit/s, it was almost 10 times faster than 802.11b’s nominal 11 Mbit/s speed. 802.11b’s protocol overhead meant that, in fact, maximum theoretical speeds were 5.9 Mbit/s. In practice though, as 802.11b used the increasingly popular 2.4 GHz band, speeds proved to be lower than that still. Interference from microwave ovens, cordless phones and other consumer electronics, meant that real world speeds often didn’t reach the 5.9 Mbit/s mark (sometimes not even close).

802.11g

To address speed concerns, in 2003 the IEEE 802.11 working group came out with 802.11g. Though 802.11g would use the 2.4 GHz frequency band just like 802.11b, it was able to achieve speeds of up to 54 Mbit/s. Even after speed decreases due to protocol overhead, its theoretical maximum of 31.4 Mbit/s was enough bandwidth to accommodate increasingly fast household broadband speeds.

Actually 802.11g was not the first 802.11 wireless standard to achieve 54 Mbit/s. That crown goes to 802.11a, which had done it back in 1999. However, 802.11a used a separate 5.8 GHz frequency to achieve its fast speeds. While 5.8 GHz had the benefit of less radio interference from consumer electronics, it also meant incompatibility with 802.11b. That fact, along with more expensive equipment, meant that 802.11a was only ever popular within the business market segment and never saw proliferation into the higher volume domestic/consumer arena.

By using 2.4 GHz to reach 54 Mbit/s, 802.11g was able to achieve high speeds while retaining full backwards compatibility with 802.11b. This was crucial, as 802.11b had already established itself as the main wireless standard for consumer devices by this point. Its backwards compatibility, along with cheaper hardware compared to 802.11a, were big selling points, and 802.11g soon became the new, faster wireless standard for consumer and, increasingly, even business related applications.

802.11n

Introduced in 2009, 802.11n made further speed improvements upon 802.11g and 802.11a. Operating on either 2.4 GHz or 5.8 GHz frequency bands (though not simultaneously), 802.11n improved transfer efficiency through frame aggregation, and also introduced optional MIMO and 40 Hz channels – double the channel width of 802.11g.

802.11n offered significantly faster network speeds. At the low end, if it was operating in the same type of single antenna, 20 Hz channel width configuration as an 802.11g network, the 802.11n network could achieve 72 Mbit/s. If, in addition, the double width 40 Hz channel was used, with multiple antennas, then data rates could be much faster – up to 600 Mbit/s (for a four antenna configuration).

The third and final blog in this series will take us right up to the modern day and will also look at the potential of Wi-Fi in the future.

 

February 3rd, 2017

Super Bowl LI Scores a Touchdown on Tech

By Sander Arts, Interim VP of Marketing, Marvell

With Super Bowl Sunday just around the corner, we’re reminded of last year’s game that took place just a few blocks away from Marvell’s campus in the heart of Silicon Valley. Taking inspiration from the locale, Super Bowl 50 was undoubtedly the most tech-savvy event to date. The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, one of the most technologically advanced venues in the country and the first stadium to feature 40 gigabits per second of internet capacity. TechRepublic reported that there were 10.15 terabytes of data transferred across the network during the game, with cloud storage, social networking and web surfing accounting for the top three applications transferring data on Levi’s Wi-Fi network.  What was even more impressive was Levi Stadium’s mobile app which enabled attendees to order food and beverages in advance, find the shortest bathroom and concession lines and access game highlights in high-definition.

But where does the game go from here? With sports fans being more engaged and connected than ever, how can technology continue enhancing the fan experience for Super Bowl 51?

NRG Stadium, Houston, TX Source: Wikipedia

NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
Source: Wikipedia

This year, the mobile app worth cheering for is Fox Sports Go. For fans unable to watch the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons face off live in Houston on Sunday, they can still get up close to the game in virtual reality. Fox Sports will stream the game live on its app which can be viewed in VR using a Samsung Gear headset or Google Cardboard. The app’s “virtual suite” will offer viewers various viewpoints of the game – even those without a VR headset can experience the game in 360-degree video.

However, we can’t forget that for many viewers, the Super Bowl commercials are just as entertaining as the game itself. With the price of a 30-second ad reaching nearly $5 million this year, brands are, more than ever, using this opportunity to release some of the funniest, strangest and powerful ads to meet viewers’ high expectations. This Sunday, we’re especially looking forward to the technology commercials, such as the Kia Niro and Ford “Go Further” ads, which will highlight advancements in connected car technology. As consumers become increasingly interested in automotive technology, we can expect to see more Super Bowl commercials highlighting data and connectivity both this year and in the years to come.

Last year’s record-breaking data usage is just an example of how important Wi-Fi and connectivity have become in our fast-paced world, especially at events such as the Super Bowl where instant streaming and sharing play an essential role in the viewers’ experience. At last year’s game, 15.9 terabytes of data were transferred via Distributed Antenna System, which was 2.5 times the amount compared to the Super Bowl the year before. Will the record to be broken again this Sunday?

As we tune in to the biggest TV event of the year, we look forward to seeing how technology will up the ante at Super Bowl 51, from the amount of data being transferred to fans sharing their experience on social media, it’s sure to be a touchdown performance!

You can follow Sander Arts on Twitter @Sander1Arts

January 18th, 2017

The Four Most Exciting Wireless Audio Trends

By Jawad Haider, Senior Product Marketing Manager of Wireless Connectivity Business Unit, Marvell

As chips are becoming smaller and more powerful, the wireless audio market is continuing to rapidly grow. According to MarketsandMarkets, the wireless audio industry is expected to reach $54.07 billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 23.2 percent between 2016 and 2022. High performance, low power wireless and Bluetooth/ Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) solutions have been key enablers of the growth of wireless audio, providing the technology for companies to develop connected audio solutions that have the throughput and range needed for high-resolution wireless, integrated with the extended battery life consumers expect for portable devices.

Multi-channel and multi-room wireless audio solutions are two key trends that have seen an increase in consumer adoption. However, to enable consumers to seamlessly stream their favorite tunes throughout their homes, there are a few key technological challenges with range and synchronization that must be addressed.

Marvell’s newest Avastar® wireless connectivity solutions make range limitations a thing of the past for many home and enterprise audio applications. Marvell’s high performance and low power Avastar combos incorporate Dynamic Multi-Hop Relay (DMHR) Technology to connect up to 15 devices in a daisy-chain fashion, extending the range of traditional Wi-Fi networks 15 times from 40m to almost 600m in a typical home. Additionally, Marvell has enabled other exciting features, such as connecting up to 31 clients to a speaker or sound bar which acts as a soft access point.

Diagram showing a daisy-chain wireless audio setup

Diagram showing a daisy-chain wireless audio setup

To make every microsecond of audio count, Marvell’s Avastar solutions provide cutting-edge audio synchronization across devices and rooms. Combining Marvell’s advanced Wi-Fi technology, support for the 802.11mc standard, and hardware time-stamping synchronization algorithms developed by our partners, Avastar delivers best-in-class smart connected solutions.

Another key trend in the wireless audio space, is the emergence of voice assisted products like Amazon Echo and Google Home. Marvell is working closely with all voice-enabled ecosystems to be at the forefront of technology enablement for this new category of products.

From portable speakers to advanced soundbar systems, Marvell’s advanced wireless technology is embedded in many of the most popular audio products on the market today. To learn more about Marvell’s wireless solutions, please visit: www.marvell.com/wireless. You can also read more about wireless trends and standards in my Q&A with Electronic Design’s Bill Wong http://electronicdesign.com/wifi/qa-what-s-new-wireless-audio-market.

October 13th, 2016

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

By Venu Balasubramonian, Marketing Director, Connectivity, Storage and Infrastructure Business Unit, Marvell

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/