Marvell Extends Its 5G Leadership With Next-Generation Silicon

Marvell’s new Octeon 10 family of DPUs. MARVELL

I have written about Marvell extensively in the past, and I continue to be impressed with its leadership in 5G silicon. The company’s DPU announcement this week during Mobile World Congress Barcelona, in my mind, furthers its momentum. My firm was recently briefed by Marvell executives and I would like to share my takeaways.

New DPU features   

So, you might ask, what is a DPU? By definition, a DPU is a data processing unit representing a compute entity that moves, processes, secures and manages data as it travels or rests. Ultimately, this enables data to be available and optimized for applications. The new Marvell OCTEON 10 DPU family aims to accelerate and process several workloads, spanning security, networking and storage. I find it compelling that Marvell can cover many 5G, cloud and enterprise data center applications. In addition, the company claims that the new OCTEON family delivers up to three times the performance at half of the power consumption of prior generations. Combine those advances with OCTEON’s scalability, and it will also be well suited for emerging edge appliances and SDWAN deployments.  

New manufacturing process and architecture 

The new OCTEON DPU family is built on a 5nm semiconductor process, incorporating Arm Neoverse N2 cores. The 5nm Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) process is significant in that its fanless designs support a host of new form factors that are more energy efficient. Additional features include an industry-first integrated hardware machine learning engine, an integrated 1Tb switch and support for VPP (vector packet processing hardware-based accelerators). VPP support is significant because it can reduce latency and improve throughput by avoiding single packet transport and optimizing performance with machine learning. VPP is also based on open-source development through the FD.io consortium. Thus, it is easier to integrate across both enterprise and service provider multi-vendor network environments. Marvell’s first-to-market achievement with all the features mentioned above are a testament to the company’s continued silicon leadership.    

Wrapping up 

From my perspective, Marvell continues to raise the bar with its OCTEON DPU platform, and the OCTEON 10 family sets new standards in performance, power management, design flexibility and workload support. From a 5G perspective, these improvements also support front, back and side haul, as well as disaggregated RAN, vRAN and Open RAN. Open RAN by design is cost versus performance optimized, thus in my mind Marvell is raising the performance bar. OCTEON 10 availability is slated for the second half of 2021. If the past is any indication, it should meet with great success.