Linley Wire: April 20, 2016

 weSRCH's Best of the Internet Award

Linley Wire
Volume 16, Issue 5
April 20, 2016

Independent Analysis of the Networking-Silicon Industry

Editor: Bob Wheeler
Contributor: Loring Wirbel, Bob Wheeler, and Tom R. Halfhill

In This Issue:

- MoSys Builds Smarter Search Engine
- Inphi Melds PAM4, Silicon Photonics
- New Intel Modems Target IoT

To read these articles on-line, click here

New Report: "A Guide to Ethernet Switch and PHY Chips"

We are wrapping up our new report "A Guide to Ethernet Switch and PHY Chips” (12th Edition) by principal analyst Bob Wheeler and senior analyst Loring Wirbel.

This report provides extensive coverage of Ethernet switch chips for data-center, enterprise, and service-provider networks. It also includes physical-layer (PHY) chips for 10G, 40G, and 100G Ethernet. Vendors covered include Broadcom, Cavium, Centec, Intel, Marvell, Mellanox, and Microsemi (Vitesse) as well as PHY vendors including Aquantia, Inphi, and MoSys.

What's New in This Edition

Since publishing the previous edition, we have updated the coverage to include many new announcements, including:

• Coverage of Broadcom’s new Hurricane 3 and Ranger 2 Ethernet switch chips

• Coverage of Marvell’s Prestera DX421x switch, Alaska C 100GbE gearbox and retimer, and Alaska X3340 NBase-T PHYs

• Coverage of Mellanox’s new Spectrum 100GbE switch

• Coverage of MoSys’ 100GbE retimer and MLG PHYs with RS-FEC

• Updated company background reflecting acquisitions of Broadcom (Avago) and Vitesse (Microsemi).

• 2015 preliminary market size and vendor share for GbE switch chips, 10GbE switch chips, and 10GbE PHYs

• Updated market forecasts for GbE, 10GbE, 40GbE, and 100GbE switch chips as well as 10GBase-T PHYs, from 2014 - 2019

Special Offer:

The price for a corporate-wide license is $5,995, and the price for a single-copy license is $4,495. We can offer you a pre-publication discount of $500 off the corporate license price or $300 off a single license until May 17, 2016.

The preliminary table of contents and additional information on this new report can be found on our web site:

For more information or to order the report, please email us at

MoSys Builds Smarter Search Engine
By Bob Wheeler

We expect processors to embed memories, but not vice versa. Over its three product generations, however, MoSys has continued to add intelligence to its Bandwidth Engine line of serial networking memories. When it disclosed its Bandwidth Engine 3 (BE-3) architecture, the company revealed new capabilities that could address search-engine applications. Two years later, MoSys is exposing the 32 specialized multithread CPUs at the heart of its design.

Rather than deliver complete search functions, such as exact-match or longest-prefix-match (LPM) lookups, the company decided to let customers program their own algorithms. As a result, it announced its Programmable Search Engine (PSE) as a separate family from the BE-3, despite the two families sharing common silicon architecture. That commonality means the new PSE-S30 is built around 1Gb of embedded DRAM (eDRAM) and dual serial interfaces with eight lanes operating at up to 30Gbps.

Enabling customers to program the PSE means MoSys must now deliver an integrated development environment (IDE). Customers can debug their microcode on the supplied PSE-S30 behavioral model before moving to the actual device. Although programmers must learn a proprietary instruction set, typical search algorithms will require little code.

Algorithmic search engines have had limited success when delivered as merchant devices. OEMs, however, have been successful at integrating algorithmic search into high-volume ASICs, thereby reducing their need for TCAMs. By introducing the industry’s first customer-programmable search engine, MoSys hopes to meet the needs of OEMs while avoiding the pitfalls of hard-wired algorithms.

Networking Report subscribers can access the full article here:

Inphi Melds PAM4, Silicon Photonics
By Loring Wirbel

Inphi is promoting a dual-lambda 100Gbps optical link for DWDM inter-data-center traffic over 80km, bridging a gap between shorter-reach LR4 optical links between end points and long-haul ROADM-based optical transport. It addresses metro links where the only 100Gbps option has been coherent optics. The Inphi Colorz technology combines two component breakthroughs: a CMOS DSP chip implementing PAM4 modulation for dual 50Gbps channels, and a silicon-photonics die that integrates high-speed Mach-Zehnder modulators, photodetectors, and mux/demuxes. The company completes its chipset, which fits in a QSFP28 package, with dual-channel modulator-driver and TIA devices.

In 3Q15, Inphi sampled the first members of a PAM4 device family that unites forward error correction (FEC), a DSP equalizer, and a transmitter for multimode-fiber (MMF) and single-mode-fiber (SMF) optical links running at 40Gbps, 50Gbps, 100Gbps, and 400Gbps. Colorz, however, uses PAM4 with the company’s own SOI silicon-photonics device, which had been undisclosed until the recent Optical Fiber Communication (OFC) conference. Inphi relies on its SOI foundry for much of the silicon-photonics process IP (intellectual property). Unlike many silicon-photonics startups, it didn’t attempt to develop the process from the ground up, instead using an existing one.

Inphi is making three bets at once with Colorz, which initially appears to be increasing the company’s risk. First, it’s applying PAM4 to DWDM channels; second, it’s establishing a new link-reach domain for QSFP28 to compete with tunable lasers between the traditional LAN/campus and the MAN; and third, it’s bringing its first silicon-photonics products to market in a QSFP28 module with strict thermal limits. Although the risks may appear additive, we see the three approaches as reasonable, and they actually hold greater near-term potential for volume adoption than, for example, Intel’s use of silicon photonics for on-board optics.

Networking Report subscribers can access the full article here:

New Intel Modems Target IoT
By Tom R. Halfhill

Intel has revealed more details about three cellular modem chips announced at the recent Mobile World Congress. All three are designed for use with embedded processors that need an external modem for wireless connectivity, and they reinforce the company’s push into cellular IoT applications.

The XMM 7120M is an LTE Category 1 modem that stacks a baseband processor, flash memory, DRAM, and power-management unit (PMU) in one package. It’s intended primarily for machine-to-machine (M2M) applications, such as factory equipment, smart meters, medical devices, security cameras, and point-of-sale (PoS) terminals. It also supports 3G and 2G links when an LTE connection isn’t available. The XMM 7120M is sampling now, and we expect production to start in the fourth quarter.

Another modem, the XMM 7115, supports a new slower-speed LTE protocol, and it omits the packaged memory. It’s intended for cellular IoT clients that will use the 3GPP Release 13 protocol for Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT, unofficially known as LTE Category M2, or LTE-M2). Intel expects to sample the XMM 7115 later this year, and we expect production to start early next year.

For even lower-power systems, the XMM 6255M is a dual-band 2G/3G modem with an integrated power amplifier. It’s intended for IoT or M2M systems that don’t need LTE connectivity. Like the XMM 7120M, it stacks flash memory, DRAM, and a PMU on the baseband die, but its package is about 30% smaller. The 6255M is sampling now, and we expect production to start in the second half of this year.

Networking Report subscribers can access the full article here:

About Linley Wire

Linley Wire is a free electronic newsletter published by The Linley Group, a technology analysis and strategic consulting firm. Linley Wire will present our analysis of recent news on semiconductors for networking and communications. Articles are posted weekly to our web site and sent monthly via email. To access the web content directly, visit our web site.

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Domain: Electronics
Category: Semiconductors

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