Automotive Ethernet

Marvell unveils 5nm multi-gigabit PHY platform

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – August 16, 2023 – Marvell Technology, Inc. has introduced its technology platform for 5nm multi-gigabit copper Ethernet PHYs. The platform enables enterprise network equipment manufacturers and others to meet energy efficiency and performance targets. This technology addresses next generation multi-gigabit network technologies like Wi-Fi 7.

PHYs manage data transfer in networks, linking copper, fiber-optic, and wireless systems, vital in modern data infrastructure. Any given packet will likely pass through a multitude of PHYs during a single transmission through a network. Innovations in PHY technology are critical to deliver the enhanced bandwidth, reach, link performance, and security required by the exponentially growing interconnect needs of the modern data infrastructure.

Marvell’s 5nm multi-gig PHY platform is based around optimized circuit designs, custom digital logic, enhanced DSP algorithms, and other innovations. This platform delivers 10 Gbps performance at half the power of previous generation devices from Marvell. The platform aids standalone PHYs, integrated SoCs, and custom ASICs, optimizing for distinct markets and applications as building blocks.

Reducing PHY power consumption gives equipment manufacturers greater flexibility in product design. Consequently, heat sinks and fans can be reduced in size or eliminated. Moreover, a greater portion of the power envelope can be redirected to other features to boost performance. Overall power can be reduced to help end users meet sustainable IT goals. A leader in multi-gigabit PHYs with four generations of PHYs already in production, Marvell’s Alaska M multi-gigabit PHYs and the Prestera® 2500, 3500, and 4500 series switches have been purpose-built to accelerate the multi-gigabit transition in enterprise networks.

“PHYs are a necessary ingredient of digital networks and Marvell is a leading supplier of this technology,” said Joseph Byrne, Editor in Chief of Microprocessor Report. “Innovations like this will play an important part in ensuring access points and other edge devices can continue to increase in performance and capacity.”

Breakthrough PHY Performance for Wi-Fi 7

The Alaska M 3610 Ethernet PHY, the first chip based on the new platform is a single port multi-gigabit PHY, aimed at enabling the multi-gigabit backhaul links for improving Wi-Fi performance. Moreover, Wi-Fi 7 is expected to provide over four times the maximum aggregate data rate of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E. It will also offer nearly seven times the rate of Wi-Fi 5, representing a significant leap in performance. This enhanced performance will enable more reliable connections and support emerging applications like augmented reality.

Wi-Fi 7’s enhanced data throughput needs multiple up to 10 Gbps backhaul links, utilizing faster PHYs for support. Delivering that bandwidth will demand a transformative improvement in the performance and power efficiency of the backhaul links. These links connect Wi-Fi access points to the rest of the network. Furthermore, consuming under 1W, Alaska M 3610 enables manufacturers to meet these performance goals for the adoption of Wi-Fi 7.

Wi-Fi 7 enterprise access point shipments will surge from thousands in 2023 to 13+ million by 2027, dominating enterprise W-Fi. Moreover, this upgrade cycle will accelerate the conversion of enterprise access networks from 1 Gbps to multi-gigabit speeds.

“This is the first time in over a decade that we’ve seen more than a doubling of bandwidth in Wi-Fi. It’s exciting,” said Chris DePuy, co-founder of 650 Group, adding that Wi-Fi 7 access points should begin shipping in late 2023/early 2024 and constitute approximately 40% of unit shipments of Wi-Fi enterprise access points by 2027.

The Alaska M 3610 also includes IEEE 802.1AE 256-bit hardware-based link-layer Media Access Control (MACsec) for flexible encryption deployment. This eliminates the cost and power burden of including this functionality in an access point’s system-on-chip. MACsec is critical to a layered enterprise security implementation. It provides end-to-end protection across a connection to prevent attacks such as denial-of-service, man-in-the-middle, masquerading, and passive wiretapping.

“Our first to market new 5nm multi-gigabit copper PHY platform delivers a leap in performance and capabilities over those found on the market today,” said Venu Balasubramonian, vice president of product marketing, High Speed Connectivity and PHY Business Unit at Marvell. “PHY innovation is absolutely essential for meeting the bandwidth demands of AI, AR, remote work and other high-bandwidth applications. Moreover, Marvell has made a strong commitment to PHY development and to maintaining a leadership position in this technology area to deliver solutions that address the emerging needs of our customers.”

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