Marvell Furthers Its 5G Push With Fujitsu And Facebook Connectivity

By Patrick Moorhead - March 18, 2021
OCETON Fusion O-RAN DU design

Marvell is a silicon leader for the datacenter and the edge enabling the deployment of the largest cloud players, the enterprise and enabling carriers to deploy 5G globally. The company is in the midst of a renaissance that took years and Wall Street is taking notice. Since CEO Matt Murphy’s arrival in 2016, the stock has increased nearly 5X, an impressive feat, even during these boom times. Marvell’s market SAM is huge and it competes with companies like Broadcom, Intel and NVIDIA. Marvell is a market leader in RAN but OpenRAN is the next big growth opportunity with many new players.  

Over the past week, the company extended its capabilities further with two key announcements. Moor Insights & Strategy’s principal analyst Patrick Moorhead and I had the opportunity to speak with Raj Singh, Marvell’s Executive Vice President of the Processors Business Group. Subsequently, we want to share our insights into what we believe is most compelling.

Fujitsu partnership delivers the 5G goods 

Fujitsu may not be as familiar in the cellular infrastructure space relative to Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, and Samsung Networks, but it is growing even outside its core Japanese market. Fujitsu has embraced Open Radio Access Networking (OpenRAN), and for a good reason, the RAN is one of the remaining cellular domains ripe for disruption. OpenRAN promises to bring significant capital and operational expense savings to operators through disaggregation, software-defined networking tools, and virtualization.  Many operators are digesting costly spectrum acquisitions, as witnessed by the recent $81B C-Band auction in the United States. Thus, OpenRAN is a welcomed initiative.  

On February 25th, Marvell and Fujitsu announced plans to collaborate on OpenRAN distributed unit (DU) offerings and the development of a new line of 5G New Radio (NR) base stations powered by the Marvell OCTEON Fusion baseband processor. From our perspective, Marvell’s leadership in RAN from silicon, integration, and overall knowledgebase could enable Fujitsu to grow its share in RAN both in Japan and the rest of the world.      

OCTEON broadens OpenRAN design choices 

On March 1st, Marvell announced that it would join the Evenstar program and collaborate with Facebook Connectivity to provide both 4G LTE and 5G OpenRAN DU designs. If you are not familiar with Evenstar, it is a collaborative effort to further the availability of general-purpose RAN reference architecture within the OpenRAN ecosystem. If you would like to learn more, you can read more about it in this recent Facebook blog

Marvell’s contribution to the Evenstar program will include fully integrated DU reference boards based on both the OCTEON Fusion baseband processor and Arm OCTEON multi-core digital processing units (DPUs). One of the key challenges with OpenRAN is that it is optimal for cost savings but not necessarily performance. From our perspective, Marvell brings significant resources to bear to deliver highly interoperable and robust DU platforms to address OpenRAN performance concerns. 

Wrapping up

We believe these two Marvell announcements will play a significant role in furthering the momentum for OpenRAN. Helping Fujitsu grow outside of its core market will provide operators more choice and further RAN innovation given heightened competition. The Evenstar program began focusing on the radio unit (RU) and found great success in 2020. DU development represents the next logical step for Evenstar, and Marvell brings significant capabilities to bear to help achieve the program's mission to accelerate the adoption of OpenRAN.       

Note: Patrick Moorhead, President and Founder of Moor Insights & Strategy contributed to this article.

Patrick Moorhead
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.