Marvell is a data center semiconductor company that does compute, storage, networking, carrier, and security silicon and late last year announced some significant changes to the company’s strategy at its first industry analyst event. The company is on a roll, and I believe the ‘New Marvell’ is the closest thing to an Intel in the data center. The company has also made some considerable advancements in 5G infrastructure and has recently won both Nokia and Samsung’s business this year. Not just that, but the company has even been eating Broadcom’s lunch with its networking products as well. There are only a select few silicon providers that are at the front of the TSMC bleeding-edge datacenter process node line, and Marvell is one of the few. This choice club includes AMD, NVIDIA, and maybe Huawei. Marvell’s announcement around 5nm puts it at the forefront of low-power data center because of its numerous platforms, including Fusion and OCTEON.
Marvell is leaning into 5nm heavily, calling the new 5nm chips a ‘portfolio,’ meaning that the company will manufacture many of its leading products using TSMC’s N5 leading-edge process node. Marvell says that the company is already developing solutions using 5nm across carrier, enterprise, automotive, and data center markets with the first product sampling by the end of next year. Marvell says that the full spectrum of the company’s industry-leading IP portfolio will be able to leverage TSMC’s new process node. These include the company’s high-speed SerDes up to 112Gbps long-read, processor subsystems, encryption engines, SoC fabrics, chip to chip interconnects, and a variety of physical layer interfaces. Marvell claims that with the new TSMC N5, an enhanced version of TSMC’s 5nm process node, it can deliver a 20% faster speed or 40% power reductions compared to 7nm, which is the current state of the art.
Because Marvell is using TSMC’s N5 architecture, the company will also be able to build chips that fall within specific power envelops and die sizes that make particular performance per watt designs possible. Having the ability to pack more logic and memory into smaller space at lower power also translates to much more capable platforms that can power 5G, automotive, machine learning, enterprise networking, and cloud data centers. While products may not realize these innovations until the end of next year, this does bring Marvell and TSMC much closer to delivering leading-edge process node technology closer to low-power smartphone chips using roughly the same node. There has always been a pretty broad gap between low-power leading node to build smaller low-power smartphone chips and high-performance processors like Marvell’s. This partnership appears to shorten that time to a point where we could see the gap continuing to narrow; many expect the first 5nm chips to come from Apple in the upcoming iPhone.
Marvell is on a roll across many different divisions and is punishing some of its competitors in key growth markets. The ‘New Marvell’ appears to be firing on all cylinders now and has really turned the company around since 2016, and the new TSMC 5N partnership is only an illustration of that confidence. TSMC only partners with a very select few companies on the leading-edge process nodes like 5nm, and Marvell being one of them is a particularly good sign. Marvell’s leaning into the leading-edge of process technology also means that the company’s roadmap is aggressive and will likely continue to gain new customers and grow existing relationships well into 2022. The next few years look very interesting for the ‘New Marvell,’ and I believe that it is becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.