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Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

August 31st, 2020

Arm processors in the Data Center

By Raghib Hussain, Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President, Networking and Processors Group

Last week, Marvell announced a change in our strategy for ThunderX, our Arm-based server-class processor product line. I’d like to take the opportunity to put some more context around that announcement, and our future plans in the data center market.

ThunderX is a product line that we started at Cavium, prior to our merger with Marvell in 2018. At Cavium, we had built many generations of successful processors for infrastructure applications, including our Nitrox security processor and OCTEON infrastructure processor. These processors have been deployed in the world’s most demanding data-plane applications such as firewalls, routers, SSL-acceleration, cellular base stations, and Smart NICs. Today, OCTEON is the most scalable and widely deployed multicore processor in the market.

As co-founder of Cavium, I had a strong belief that Arm-based processors also had a role to play in next generation data centers. One size simply doesn’t fit all anymore, so we started the ThunderX product line for the server market. It was a bold move, and we knew it would take significant time and investment to come to fruition. In fact, we have spent six years now building multiple generations of products, developing the ecosystem, the software, and working with customers to qualify systems for production deployment in large data centers. ThunderX2 was the industry’s first Arm-based processor capable of powering dual socket servers that could go toe-to-toe with x86-based solutions, and clearly established the performance credentials for Arm in the server market. We moved the bar higher yet again with ThunderX3, as we discussed at Hot Chips 32.

Today, we see strong ecosystem support and a significant opportunity for Arm-based processors in the data center. But the real market opportunity for server-class Arm processors is in customized solutions, optimized for the use cases at hyperscale data center operators. This should be no surprise, as the power of the Arm architecture has always been in its ability to be integrated into highly optimized designs tailored for specific use cases, and we see hyperscale datacenter applications as no different.

Our rich IP portfolio, decades of processor expertise with Nitrox, OCTEON, and ThunderX, combined with our new custom ASIC capability, and investment in the latest TSMC 5nm process node, puts Marvell in a unique position to address this market opportunity. So to us, this market driven change just makes sense. We look forward to partnering with our customers and helping to deliver highly optimized solutions tailored to their unique needs.

August 27th, 2020

How to Reap the Benefits of NVMe over Fabric in 2020

By Todd Owens, Technical Marketing Manager, Marvell

As native Non-volatile Memory Express (NVMe®) share-storage arrays continue enhancing our ability to store and access more information faster across a much bigger network, customers of all sizes – enterprise, mid-market and SMBs – confront a common question: what is required to take advantage of this quantum leap forward in speed and capacity?

Of course, NVMe technology itself is not new, and is commonly found in laptops, servers and enterprise storage arrays. NVMe provides an efficient command set that is specific to memory-based storage, provides increased performance that is designed to run over PCIe 3.0 or PCIe 4.0 bus architectures, and — offering 64,000 command queues with 64,000 commands per queue — can provide much more scalability than other storage protocols.

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Unfortunately, most of the NVMe in use today is held captive in the system in which it is installed. While there are a few storage vendors offering NVMe arrays on the market today, the vast majority of enterprise datacenter and mid-market customers are still using traditional storage area networks, running SCSI protocol over either Fibre Channel or Ethernet Storage Area Networks (SAN).

The newest storage networks, however, will be enabled by what we call NVMe over Fabric (NVMe-oF) networks. As with SCSI today, NVMe-oF will offer users a choice of transport protocols. Today, there are three standard protocols that will likely make significant headway into the marketplace. These include:

  • NVMe over Fibre Channel (FC-NVMe)
  • NVMe over RoCE RDMA (NVMe/RoCE)
  • NVMe over TCP (NVMe/TCP)

If NVMe over Fabrics are to achieve their true potential, however, there are three major elements that need to align. First, users will need an NVMe-capable storage network infrastructure in place. Second, all of the major operating system (O/S) vendors will need to provide support for NVMe-oF. Third, customers will need disk array systems that feature native NVMe. Let’s look at each of these in order.

  1. NVMe Storage Network Infrastructure

In addition to Marvell, several leading network and SAN connectivity vendors support one or more varieties of NVMe-oF infrastructure today. This storage network infrastructure (also called the storage fabric), is made up of two main components: the host adapter that provides server connectivity to the storage fabric; and the switch infrastructure that provides all the traffic routing, monitoring and congestion management.

For FC-NVMe, today’s enhanced 16Gb Fibre Channel (FC) host bus adapters (HBA) and 32Gb FC HBAs already support FC-NVMe. This includes the Marvell® QLogic® 2690 series Enhanced 16GFC, 2740 series 32GFC and 2770 Series Enhanced 32GFC HBAs.

On the Fibre Channel switch side, no significant changes are needed to transition from SCSI-based connectivity to NVMe technology, as the FC switch is agnostic about the payload data. The job of the FC switch is to just route FC frames from point to point and deliver them in order, with the lowest latency required. That means any 16GFC or greater FC switch is fully FC-NVMe compatible.

A key decision regarding FC-NVMe infrastructure, however, is whether or not to support both legacy SCSI and next-generation NVMe protocols simultaneously. When customers eventually deploy new NVMe-based storage arrays (and many will over the next three years), they are not going to simply discard their existing SCSI-based systems. In most cases, customers will want individual ports on individual server HBAs that can communicate using both SCSI and NVMe, concurrently. Fortunately, Marvell’s QLogic 16GFC/32GFC portfolio does support concurrent SCSI and NVMe, all with the same firmware and a single driver. This use of a single driver greatly reduces complexity compared to alternative solutions, which typically require two (one for FC running SCSI and another for FC-NVMe).

If we look at Ethernet, which is the other popular transport protocol for storage networks, there is one option for NVMe-oF connectivity today and a second option on the horizon. Currently, customers can already deploy NVMe/RoCE infrastructure to support NVMe connectivity to shared storage. This requires RoCE RDMA-enabled Ethernet adapters in the host, and Ethernet switching that is configured to support a lossless Ethernet environment. There are a variety of 10/25/50/100GbE network adapters on the market today that support RoCE RDMA, including the Marvell FastLinQ® 41000 Series and the 45000 Series adapters. 

On the switching side, most 10/25/100GbE switches that have shipped in the past 2-3 years support data center bridging (DCB) and priority flow control (PFC), and can support the lossless Ethernet environment needed to support a low-latency, high-performance NVMe/RoCE fabric.

While customers may have to reconfigure their networks to enable these features and set up the lossless fabric, these features will likely be supported in any newer Ethernet switch or director. One point of caution: with lossless Ethernet networks, scalability is typically limited to only 1 or 2 hops. For high scalability environments, consider alternative approaches to the NVMe storage fabric.

One such alternative is NVMe/TCP. This is a relatively new protocol (NVM Express Group ratification in late 2018), and as such is not widely available today. However, the advantage of NVMe/TCP is that it runs on today’s TCP stack, leveraging TCP’s congestion control mechanisms. That means there’s no need for a tuned environment (like that required with NVMe/RoCE), and NVMe/TCP can scale right along with your network. Think of NVMe/TCP in the same way as you do iSCSI today. Like iSCSI, NVMe/TCP will provide good performance, work with existing infrastructure, and be highly scalable. For those customers seeking the best mix of performance and ease of implementation, NVMe/TCP will be the best bet.

Because there is limited operating system (O/S) support for NVMe/TCP (more on this below), I/O vendors are not currently shipping firmware and drivers that support NVMe/TCP. But a few, like Marvell, have adapters that, from a hardware standpoint, are NVMe/TCP-ready; all that will be required is a firmware update in the future to enable the functionality. Notably, Marvell will support NVMe over TCP with full hardware offload on its FastLinQ adapters in the future. This will enable our NVMe/TCP adapters to deliver high performance and low latency that rivals NVMe/RoCE implementations.

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  • Operating System Support

While it’s great that there is already infrastructure to support NVMe-oF implementations, that’s only the first part of the equation. Next comes O/S support. When it comes to support for NVMe-oF, the major O/S vendors are all in different places – see the table below for a current (August 2020) summary. The major Linux distributions from RHEL and SUSE support both FC-NVMe and NVMe/RoCE and have limited support for NVMe/TCP. VMware, beginning with ESXi 7.0, supports both FC-NVMe and NVMe/RoCE but does not yet support NVMe/TCP. Microsoft Windows Server currently uses an SMB-direct network protocol and offers no support for any NVMe-oF technology today.

With VMware ESXi 7.0, be aware of a couple of caveats: VMware does not currently support FC-NVMe or NVMe/RoCE in vSAN or with vVols implementations. However, support for these configurations, along with support for NVMe/TCP, is expected in future releases.

  • Storage Array Support

A few storage array vendors have released mid-range and enterprise class storage arrays that are NVMe-native. NetApp sells arrays that support both NVMe/RoCE and FC-NVMe, and are available today. Pure Storage offers NVMe arrays that support NVMe/RoCE, with plans to support FC-NVMe and NVMe/TCP in the future. In late 2019, Dell EMC introduced its PowerMax line of flash storage that supports FC-NVMe. This year and next, other storage vendors will be bringing arrays to market that will support both NVMe/RoCE and FC-NMVe. We expect storage arrays that support NVMe/TCP will become available in the same time frame.

Future-proof your investments by anticipating NVMe-oF tomorrow

Altogether, we are not too far away from having all the elements in place to make NVMe-oF a reality in the data center. If you expect the servers you are deploying today to operate for the next five years, there is no doubt they will need to connect to NVMe-native storage during that time. So plan ahead.

The key from an I/O and infrastructure perspective is to make sure you are laying the groundwork today to be able to implement NVMe-oF tomorrow. Whether that’s Fibre Channel or Ethernet, customers should be deploying I/O technology that supports NVMe-oF today. Specifically, that means deploying 16GFC enhanced or 32GFC HBAs and switching infrastructure for Fibre Channel SAN connectivity. This includes the Marvell QLogic 2690, 2740 or 2770-series Fibre Channel HBAs. For Ethernet, this includes Marvell’s FastLinQ 41000/45000 series Ethernet adapter technology.

These advances represent a big leap forward and will deliver great benefits to customers. The sooner we build industry consensus around the leading protocols, the faster these benefits can be realized.

For more information on Marvell Fibre Channel and Ethernet technology, go to www.marvell.com. For technology specific to our OEM customer servers and storage, go to www.marvell.com/hpe or www.marvell.com/dell.

July 28th, 2020

Living on the Network Edge: Security

By Alik Fishman, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Marvell

Living on the Network Edge: Security

In our series Living on the Network Edge, we have looked at the trends driving Intelligence, Performance and Telemetry to the network edge. In this installment, let’s look at the changing role of network security and the ways integrating security capabilities in network access can assist in effectively streamlining policy enforcement, protection, and remediation across the infrastructure.

Cybersecurity threats are now a daily struggle for businesses experiencing a huge increase in hacked and breached data from sources increasingly common in the workplace like mobile and IoT devices. Not only are the number of security breaches going up, they are also increasing in severity and duration, with the average lifecycle from breach to containment lasting nearly a year1 and presenting expensive operational challenges. With the digital transformation and emerging technology landscape (remote access, cloud-native models, proliferation of IoT devices, etc.) dramatically impacting networking architectures and operations, new security risks are introduced. To address this, enterprise infrastructure is on the verge of a remarkable change, elevating network intelligence, performance, visibility and security2.

COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for accelerating digital transformation – as companies with greater digital presences show more resiliency3. The workforce is expected to transform post-COVID-19 with 20-45%4 becoming distributed and working remotely, either from home or from smaller distributed office spaces. The change in the working environment and accelerated migration to hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud drives a new normal, and the borderless enterprise is now a reality – driving network infrastructure to add end-to-end management, automation and security functionalities needed to support businesses in this new digital era. As mobility and cloud applications extend traditional boundaries and this borderless enterprise becomes increasingly vulnerable, a broader attack surface is no longer contained within well-defined and defended perimeters. Cracks are showing. Remote workers’ identities and devices are the new security perimeter with 70% of all breaches originating at endpoints, according to IDC research5.

This is where embedded security in network access provides essential frontline protection from malicious attacks entry points by enforcing zero-trust access policies. No traffic is trusted from the outset, and the traffic isn’t in the clear within networking devices throughout the infrastructure. Network telemetry and integrated security safeguards capable of inspecting workloads at line-rate team up with security appliances and AI-analytic tools to intelligently flag suspicious traffic and rapidly detect threats. Segmentation of security zones and agile group policy enforcement limits areas of exposure, prevents lateral movement, and enables quick remediation. IEEE 802.1AE MACSec encryption on all ports secure data throughout the network and prevent intrusion. Monitoring control protocol exceptions and activating rate limiters add layers of protection to control and management planes, preventing DDOS attacks. Integrated secure boot and secured storage provide the protection from counterfeit attempts to compromise network hardware and software.

Cybersecurity is now the dominate priorities of every organization, as each adapts to a post-COVID 19 world. Network-embedded security is on the rise to become a powerful ally in fighting the battle against ever evolving security threats. In this dynamic world, what can your network do to secure your assets?

Living on the Network Edge

What steps are you taking to bolster your network for living on the edge? Telemetry, Intelligence, Performance and Security are critical technologies for the growing borderless campus as mobility and cloud applications proliferate and drive networking functions. Learn more at: https://www.marvell.com/solutions/enterprise.html.

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1 https://www.varonis.com/blog/cybersecurity-statistics
2 Cisco 2019 Global Networking Trends Survey
3 Morgan Stanley, 2Q20 CIO Survey: IT Hardware Takeaways
4 Dell’Oro Group Ethernet Switch – Campus five-year forecast, 2020-2024
5 Forbes 2020 Roundup Of Cybersecurity Forecasts And Market Estimates

July 23rd, 2020

Telemetry: Can You See the Edge?

By Suresh Ravindran, Senior Director, Software Engineering

Telemetry: Can You See the Edge?

So far in our series Living on the Network Edge, we have looked at trends driving Intelligence and Performance to the network edge. In this blog, let’s look into the need for visibility into the network.

As automation trends evolve, the number of connected devices is seeing explosive growth. IDC estimates that there will be 41.6 billion connected IoT devices generating a whopping 79.4 zettabytes of data in 20251. A significant portion of this traffic will be video flows and sensor traffic which will need to be intelligently processed for applications such as personalized user services, inventory management, intrusion prevention and load balancing across a hybrid cloud model. Networking devices will need to be equipped with the ability to intelligently manage processing resources to efficiently handle huge amounts of data flows.

How do you see what you can’t see?

But is your network edgy enough? In order to handle the growth, we’ve seen intelligence pushed to the network edge for application-aware engineering and inferencing applications running in hybrid clouds. In order to keep up with billions of mobile devices using denser applications, we addressed wireless offloading as one method to alleviate the burden on cellular networks. This approach increases the load on edge and enterprise networks with demands for intelligent flow processing capabilities to efficiently utilize the LAN and WAN bandwidth.   With intelligence and performance in place, we also need to address the growing complexity associated with “seeing” how network switching resources are being utilized. Visibility through network telemetry is fundamental to empowering AI-automation, performance, security and troubleshooting. To be proactive and predictive, networks need to be built with switches that look beyond the obvious with intelligent telemetry capabilities.

Intelligent telemetry for effective network visibility

Increased use of analytics and AI for performance monitoring, detection, troubleshooting and response has been ranked a top priority for organizations to achieve their vision of the ideal networkIT professionals leverage telemetry to define workload behaviors requiring network bandwidth timing patterns and whether applications are causing jitter or low-bandwidth issues. In general, telemetry functions have tracked events in hindsight but are now increasingly used to analyze and predict – living on the network edge means monitoring, predicting and managing the anomalies for proactive infrastructure automation and application responses.

An effective telemetry solution also requires network devices to stream a wide range of metadata for network flow and switch resource usage in real time. As streaming telemetry header formats evolve, it is equally important for the switch silicon’s pipeline to have programming abilities which adapt to changes in telemetry tools while performing at line-rate.   

Successfully living at the network edge means detecting and adjusting algorithms in real time. It won’t be enough to move intelligence to the edge and increase the performance for workloads if you can’t see what is happening within the network. Network visibility is crucial in managing workloads to reliably deliver customer and enterprise service level agreements predictively. Telemetry, Intelligence and Performance are critical technologies for the growing borderless campus as mobility and cloud applications proliferate and drive networking functions. In our next blog, we will discuss Security as part of our insights and TIPS to Living on the Network Edge.  Watch out for the edge …

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1 Worldwide Global DataSphere IoT device and data forecast (2019-2023), IDC

July 16th, 2020

The Need for Speed at the Edge

By George Hervey, Principal Architect, Marvell

Marvell Driving Network Intelligence and Processing to the Edge

In the previous TIPS to Living on the Edge, we looked at the trend of driving network intelligence to the edge. With the capacity enabled by the latest wireless networks, like 5G, the infrastructure will enable the development of innovative applications. These applications often employ a high-frequency activity model, for example video or sensors, where the activities are often initiated by the devices themselves generating massive amounts of data moving across the network infrastructure. Cisco’s VNI Forecast Highlights predicts that global business mobile data traffic will grow six-fold from 2017 to 2022, or at an annual growth rate of 42 percent1, requiring a performance upgrade of the network.

Wireless Offload

How do networks with dense wireless connections address the overwhelming bandwidth and connection challenges? One answer is wireless offload. Whether a big box retail store with 1,000 customers or a 60,000-seat stadium or a convention center with 200,000 attendees, the amount of data to be delivered is enormous. The cost to carry the data over wireless has hit a critical inflection point in capacity, driving the need for offload to a wired network. This trend of wireless offload requires higher and higher performance at the network edge enabling users to experience high-performance connectivity and low latency response times they’ve grown to expect.

New Performance Paradigm

Deployment of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are enabled by advanced wireless access technologies including the use of MIMO and higher frequency spectrum. The capacity being delivered will quickly be consumed by the growing number of devices and new applications. In fact, higher bandwidth at the access layer was a major force behind the definition of Multi-Gig Ethernet. This new performance paradigm will have an impact on all layers of the network, motivating an increase in uplink port speeds to handle the added access bandwidth. Additionally, stacking link capacity will increase to facilitate efficient port deployments and help handle the growth in attached clients.

Network capacity increases enable the adoption of higher bandwidth services, support for emerging real-time applications and an expansion of concurrent active devices on networks. Ironically, the resulting trends and future innovations will continue to drive the need for increased network performance.

Performance is the second part in a series of TIPS that will discuss essential technologies for the growing borderless campus as mobility and cloud applications proliferate and drive networking functions. Telemetry challenges and insights will inspire our next TIPS to Living on the Network Edge.

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1Cisco VNI Complete Forecast Highlights