Linley Newsletter: December 28, 2017

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Linley Newsletter

(Formerly Processor Watch, Linley Wire, and Linley on Mobile)

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Issue #580

December 28, 2017


Independent Analysis of Microprocessors and the Semiconductor Industry

Editor: Tom R. Halfhill

Contributors: Mike Demler, Bob Wheeler


In This Issue:

- Broadcom Axes Ethernet-Switch Foes

- MediaTek Eases Transition to NB-IoT


Broadcom Axes Ethernet-Switch Foes

By Bob Wheeler

Competitors' hopes that Broadcom would ease off the gas pedal just evaporated. The company is sampling the industry's first 12.8Tbps Ethernet switch chip, once again doubling bandwidth relative to its prior-generation switch for hyperscale data centers. Using 56Gbps PAM4 serdes, Tomahawk 3 also supports the new 50Gbps, 200Gbps, and 400Gbps Ethernet standards. Meanwhile, competing chips that were announced earlier have yet to reach customers.

Externally, Tomahawk 3 offers unsurprising speeds and feeds. The top-end BCM56980 implements up to 32x400GbE, 64x200GbE, and 128x100GbE ports. It instantiates 256 serdes that handle 56Gbps PAM4 for the new standards as well as 28Gbps NRZ for backward compatibility with 25G Ethernet and four-lane 100G Ethernet specifications. Broadcom claims it reduced power per 100GbE port by about 40% while using the same 16nm technology as Tomahawk 2.

The company implemented a new unified buffer, addressing a shortcoming of Tomahawk 2 that competitors had laid bare. To serve the growing number of virtual machines and containers in cloud data centers, it roughly doubled Tomahawk 3's table sizes. Instrumentation enhancements include in-band network telemetry (INT) and other new features exposed through APIs and the BroadView agent.

Startup Innovium was first to announce a 12.8Tbps switch chip, but it failed to deliver samples in 3Q17 as promised. Mellanox preannounced a 6.4Tbps chip that also handles 50GbE, 200GbE, and 400GbE ports, but samples are now due in mid-2018. By contrast, Broadcom doesn't announce chips until they're at least sampling to lead customers. Now, competitors must fight back with unique features instead of comparisons to Tomahawk 2, which is already in production.

Microprocessor Report subscribers can access the full article:

http://www.linleygroup.com/mpr/article.php?id=11908

MediaTek Eases Transition to NB-IoT

By Mike Demler

MediaTek's MT2621 integrates two RF front ends, supporting connections to legacy 2G GSM/GPRS networks as well as new Cat-NB2 IoT networks. It also integrates a Cortex-M4 sensor hub. The MT2621 allows both radios to operate in parallel using the same SIM card and a single antenna, but more importantly, it enables connected devices to avoid obsolescence when operators shut down and repurpose their 2G GSM networks.

Besides providing cellular connectivity, the MT2621 also integrates a Bluetooth 4.2 radio. The company targets fitness bands and wearables as well as security monitors and other IoT devices, so it built in an audio front end and amplifier. The Bluetooth capability enables the MT2621 to make phone calls and stream audio via wireless earbuds. The chip includes LCD and camera interfaces, but MediaTek withheld details. Like its predecessor, it integrates a PMU as well.

Although competitors such as Sequans and GCT have introduced highly integrated NB-IoT/Cat-NB1offerings, MediaTek took the lead as the first vendor to announce Cat-NB2 support. By implementing both legacy 2G and emerging NB-IoT, the MT2621 will be attractive to M2M-device manufacturers looking for a low-cost chip that can remain in the field long past 2G's expiration date.

Microprocessor Report subscribers can access the full article:

http://www.linleygroup.com/mpr/article.php?id=11907

About Linley Newsletter

Linley Newsletter is a free electronic newsletter that reports and analyzes advances in microprocessors, networking chips, and mobile-communications chips. It is published by The Linley Group and consolidates our previous electronic newsletters: Processor Watch, Linley Wire, and Linley on Mobile. To subscribe, please visit:

http://www.linleygroup.com/newsletters/newsletter_subscribe.php

Domain: Electronics
Category: Semiconductors
SEMICONDUCTOR ANALYTICS

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