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What's going on with Broadcom Tomahawk?
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On January 7,Accenture plc had agreed to acquire Symantec's person cybersecurity services division from Broadcom. Broadcom provides a broad range of semiconductor and infrastructure software applications that serve the data center, networking, software, broadband, wireless, and storage and industrial markets.
Common applications for its products include: data center networking, home connectivity, broadband access, telecommunications equipment, smartphones, base stations, data center servers and storage, factory automation, power generation and alternative energy systems, displays, and mainframe operations and management, and application software development.
Some of Broadcom's core technologies and franchise products include:. Broadcom operates its enterprise security business under the Symantec brand; Broadcom purchased this business from NortonLifeLock formerly known as Symantec in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from Broadcom. Operating income. Net income. This section needs expansion.How Switching Works - Network Fundamentals Part 11
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Retrieved 2 January Contra Costa Times. The Register. Seeking Alpha. Tech Times. EE Times.Knowing that there are million ports of switching up for grabs among these companies from through — worth tens of billions of dollars per year in revenues — is a strong motivator to get clever. And that is precisely what the networking industry has been doing. Everyone is chasing Broadcom, which is the volume leader in Ethernet datacenter switch chips, or trying to leapfrog it to higher bandwidth or higher port counts — or both — to try to carve out a bigger slice of those tens of billions in networking dollars.
The Trident and Trident-2 chips were, nonetheless, favorites of the hyperscalers and cloud builders in the early days of their explosive growth, and made Broadcom plenty of money.
The Jericho chips were used to create modular switches rather than fixed port devices with switch blades that can allow an enclosure to run multiple speeds and port counts and to make high-scale fabrics that link line cards within the chassis. These Dune devices are slower and deeper, rather than being more fast and furious like the Tomahawks and Tridents.
The Jericho chips were last updated in lateand are also due for an upgrade it looks like. The Tomahawk-3 chips are aimed right at the bandwidth and latency needs of the hyperscalers and cloud builders, Rochan Sankar, senior director of the core switch group at Broadcom, tells The Next Platform. This includes the massive amount of stateless servers these companies deploy, which have a huge amount of chatter between servers that can be spread across a datacenter withmachines the so-called east-west traffic as well as for deep learning networks and disaggregated flash storage, both of which also require a high radix switch a fancy way of saying it has a lot of ports per ASIC that in turn creates a flatter and cheaper network that has lower end-to-end latency between components of a distributed application.
We will get into the economics in a moment. First of all, it is implemented in the same 16 nanometer processes from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp that is used on the prior Trident-3 and Tomhawk-2 chips, meaning that the process is mature and, in one sense, cheaper to deal with. The key factor in this big jump in bandwidth, which as we have pointed out is getting networking back to where it should have beenis called PAM-4 signaling, which is short for four channel pulse amplitude modulation.
The feeds and speeds chart for the Tomahawk-3 chip has some pretty pictures that show how it works:.
With the non-return to zero modulation NRZ used with Ethernet switching hardware, cabling, and server adapters in the past, one bit can be encoded on a signal. In the case of the Tomahawk-2 chip, there are two levels of encoding running at On the right, shown in the orange and pink, is PAM signaling, which allows for multiple levels of signal encoding, thus increasing the baud rate of that signal.
With PAM-4, there are four levels of signaling, and that allows for two bits of data to be encoded at the same time on the signal, which doubles the effective bandwidth of a signal without increasing the clock rate.
You can, in theory, stuff even more bits in the wire using higher levels of PAM, with maybe three bits per signal with PAM-8 encoding and four bits per signal with PAM encoding. There is a lot of flexibility here. With each process shrink and now with the change in modulation, Broadcom has been able to move down the amount of power to deliver a level of bandwidth, and even with keeping the process at 16 nanometers with the Tomahawk-3, the power consumption per port is going to drop by about 40 percent compared to the Tomahawk This is one reason why switch makers relying on Broadcom parts will be able to cram lots of ports onto their devices, because the power density is going to go down.
This is a big improvement in watts per gigabits per second. Because of the limitations in terms of bandwidth and port count on switch chips in the last decade, it takes a lot of chips to make a Clos network that can span datacenters with tens to hundreds of thousands of servers, and this has been driving up networking costs relative to other costs to the point where networking has pushed above 20 percent of the total capital outlay for iron in the datacenter and was kissing 25 percent in some instances.
With higher port counts on each chip, it takes fewer chips to interlink all of the devices in a hyperscale datacenter.If hyperscalers, cloud builders, HPC centers, enterprises, and both OEMs and ODMs like one thing, it is a steady drumbeat of technology enhancements to drive their datacenters forward. It is hard to reckon what is more important: the technology or the drumbeat, but it is painfully obvious when both fail and it is a thing of beauty to watch when both are humming along together.
Broadcom was already designing its own ASICs for datacenter networking gear, but these were for fairly simple Layer 2 Ethernet switches, and Maverick was working on higher-end, beefier ASICs that combined Layer 2 switching and Layer 3 routing functions on the same device.
Altima made networking chips that ended up in networking devices sold mostly to SMBs, but gave Broadcom more networking customers and a broader engineering and patent portfolio to pull from. Broadcom got serious about switching when blade servers took off in the datacenter in the early s, when the hyperscalers were not even really megascale yet and when the public cloud was still just a bunch of talk about utility computing and grid computing.
Broadcom has been advancing all three families of silicon with a pretty steady cadence. The Jericho 2 chip, rated at 9. The Trident 4 chip weighed in at 21 billion transistors and is a monolithic device etched in 7 nanometer processes from fab partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. Believe it or not, the Trident 4, which was the fattest chip in terms of transistor count we had ever heard of when it was unveiled this year, was not up against the reticle limit of chip making gear.
But we suspect that the Tomahawk 4 announced this week is pushing up against the reticle limits, with over 31 billion transistors etched using the same 7 nanometer processes. But, there is hope for Trident 5. The Tomahawk 1 delivered 3. With the PAM-4 encoding added with recent switch ASICs, you can have four signals per lane and encode two bits of data, driving up the effective bandwidth without increasing the clock speed above 25 GHz. This is how the Tomahawk 3, Trident 4, and Tomahawk 4 have been growing their bandwidth.
The Tomahawk 4 is a monolithic chip, like prior generations of Broadcom StrataXGS and StrataDNX, chips, and Broadcom seems intent in staying monolithic as long as it can without resorting to the complexity of chiplets.
Even if smaller chips tend to increase yields, adding two, four, or eight chiplets to a package creates assembly and yield issues of their own. When it comes to networking, Peter Del Vecchio, who is the product line manager for the Tomahawk and Trident lines at Broadcom, monolithic is the way to go.
Broadcom Launches Another Tomahawk Into The Datacenter
And that is why we wanted to stay with a monolithic design for this device. Having a fatter device means eliminating hops on the network, too, and also eliminating the cost of those chips and the networking gear that has to wrap around them.
If you wanted to build a switch with It takes six devices to connect ports using the current Tomahawk 3 chip, assuming that half the bandwidth 6. This architecture adds two more hops to three-quarters of the port hops some of them stay within a single switch ASICso the latency is not always higher than with a single chip, but the odds favor it. If you cut down on the number of second level ASICs, then you might get congestion, which would increase latency.
Every port is a single hop away when any other port across those ports, and according to Del Vecchio, the cost will go down by 75 percent at the switch level and the power consumption will also go down by a factor of 75 percent. Broadcom is not providing specific pricing for its chips, and it is an incorrect assumption that Broadcom will charge the same price for the Tomahawk 4 as it did for the Tomahawk 3.This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.
Cloud computing, along with artificial intelligence, is one of the greatest technological changes in more than a decade, and it continues to send shock waves through the computer industry. The latest segment to find itself suddenly turned inside-out is networking, a conservative area of tech that for years proceeded slowly and cautiously. Their dominance, many in Silicon Valley believe, has held back networking.
Now, two start-ups are challenging Broadcom and the status quo. Disruption is coming. The article on Arista Networks ANET on page 15 describes how that push is giving that company an opportunity to battle Cisco in the so-called campus network, the backbone that connects corporate PCs and servers. This company is staffed by tech vets.
Innovium chips are being designed into switches this year. They are now building a rival chip, Teralynx, which they contend is the only one that can go head-to-head with Tomahawk at moving packets of data at the top speed available— It also uses less power than Tomahawk, they say, and has lower latency—the average time it takes the first bit in a sequence to go from point A to point B.
But most important, the marketplace wants alternatives. Khemani asks rhetorically. A more dramatic shift is underway at the second start-up, Barefoot Networks, in the next town, Santa Clara.
On top of that, Barefoot offers a software programming language, called P4, that equipment makers, such as Arista or Cisco, can use to design anything they want. Although Nvidia started out making chips for video gaming, over time it developed a software language that has now made it possible to use its chips for many more tasks, including controlling self-driving cars and enabling machine language programming.
Programmable network chips open up a world of possibilities, argues Barratt. The network could, for example, take over from server computers some of the tasks of performing machine learning and artificial intelligence. As always with small outfits facing large incumbents, the question is whether Innovium and Barefoot Networks can go 15 rounds against their formidable opponent. Distribution and use of this material are governed by our Subscriber Agreement and by copyright law.
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All Rights Reserved. All Rights Reserved This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.Broadcom announced a new addition to their growing family of merchant silicon today. The new Broadcom Tomahawk II is a monster. It has 6. What Broadcom is delivering now is port density.
I fully expect to see top-of-rack ToR switches running 25Gbps down to the servers with new add-in cards connected to 50Gbps uplinks that deliver them to the massive new Tomahawk II switches running in the spine or end-of-row EoR configuration for east-west traffic disbursement.
Another curious fact of the Tomahawk II is the complete lack of 40Gbps support. Granted, the support was only paid lip service in the Tomahawk I. Now that those are starting to be produced in volume expect the 40Gbps uplinks to be a relic of the past.
Not everyone is entirely happy about the new Broadcom Tomahawk II. I received an email today with a quote from Martin Izzard of Barefoot Networks, discussing their new Tofino platform.
He said in part:. It was the first 6. I talked a bit about it a few months ago. But I think that Barefoot is a bit off on its assessment here and has a bit of an axe to grind. Barefoot is pushing something special with Tofino.
They are looking to create a super fast platform with programmability. In the world of cars, the best analogy would be looking at Tofino like a specialized sports car like a Koenigsegg Agera. Because those users are not their customers.
Their customers are Arista, Cisco, Brocade, Juniper and others. Broadcom really is the Intel of the switching world. Their platforms power vendor offerings. Broadcom will only sell these in huge lots to companies that are building something with them. Each of these cars was distinctive and had their fans, but the chassis was the same underneath the skin.
Broadcom wants everyone to buy their silicon and use it to power the next generation of switches. Your use case determines your hardware. It could even be there sooner if you want to move to a pod-based architecture instead of more traditional designs.
Write it now. Think about where you want to be in 4 years. Now double your requirements.Broadcom describes its Tomahawk 3 as a quantum leap in switch power and cost efficiency for next-gen hyperscale data centres. High-density port configurations for hyperscale spine switches based on the The big cloud vendors are building their own switches in-house but with Broadcom silicon. If there has been competitive pressure for this type of switch, mostly it would be from manufacturers opting to build switching ASICs in-house rather than rely on Broadcom solution.
But there are a few start-ups attempting to enter the market. Innovium will soon launch a Though the chips have yet to begin shipping to our knowledge at least, in an updated blog posting this week, Innovium revealed that initial its initial systems will be available in early part of and that the company expects its customer and partners to disclose further details at that time.
Barefoot is shipping a 6. The silicon is designed for user programmability via the open-source P4 programming language. Barefoot has previously stated that its technology is being adopted by large enterprises and telecommunications providers to increase network performance and efficiency through leveraging programmable forwarding plane technology. Using stateful baselining of a network's performance, the company says its software automatically filters out irrelevant data, detecting only anomalies at any time scale and with nanosecond resolution.
The Deep Insight software can track the sequence of switches the packet visited along its path, the set of rules it matched upon at every switch along the way, the time it spent buffered in every switch, to the nanosecond, and the packets, flows and application that the packet shared each queue with.
Prior to Google, he served as President of Qualcomm Atheros. Thursday, January 11, Broadcom's Broadcom is also offering an 8. The Broadcom universe.
Finally, its worth considering the wide scope of partners and customers in the Broadcom switching ecosystem. From the Innovium Ethernet switching silicon spec sheet:. Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook.