The Six Five In the Booth with Marvell Technology and Nokia at Mobile World Congress 2023

By Patrick Moorhead - March 1, 2023

On this episode of The Six Five – In the Booth, hosts Daniel Newman and Patrick Moorhead welcome Raghib Hussain, President of Marvell Technology, and Ari Kynaslahti, VP, CTO, and Head of Strategy and Technology Mobile Networks at Nokia.

Their discussion covers:

  • Marvell’s new OCTEON 10 Fusion chip and how Nokia is leveraging it
  • A look into Marvell’s strategy of optimized processing
  • The versatility and optimization of the OCTEON 10 technology for Open RAN
  • How Marvell’s technology is advancing and expanding Open RAN
  • What to watch for in the future of cloud deployments and 5G

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You can listen to the conversation here:

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Patrick Moorhead: Hi. This is Pat Moorhead and the Six Five is live in Barcelona, Spain. We are in the Marvell Technology booth, here. Daniel, I don’t know about you, but the energy is up this year. We’re not wearing masks. I mean, there has to be more people at the show. What do you think?

Daniel Newman: I’m just feeling like there’s a lot of energy. The floor’s full. By the way, it’s not even open yet.

Patrick Moorhead: I know.

Daniel Newman: We are early ahead of the show. And by the way, as I was marching in to the Gran Fira, I believe they call it here, you could just see the line was forming, people were coming in, the energy’s everywhere. And this is a huge show every single year, Pat, and I’m glad that it’s feeling more normal again.

Patrick Moorhead: Well, it is amazing how even the show has transformed. Ten years ago, it seemed to be a show of devices. And now, it really is about the transformation of carriers, about enterprise networks, and that just happens to be one of our topics today. Let’s introduce our guests here.

Daniel Newman: Absolutely. Let’s do it.

Patrick Moorhead: Ari and Raghib, how are you doing?

Ari Kynaslahti: Good, good.

Raghib Hussain: Great.

Ari Kynaslahti: Good morning.

Patrick Moorhead: Congratulations on your big tie-up yesterday. Dan and I were in the audience cheering all of you on. So, congratulations.

Ari Kynaslahti: Thank you.

Raghib Hussain: Thank you.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, you were there at the Nokia event. And the minute they talked about the anywhere RAN product, we’re like, “That’s Marvell.”

Patrick Moorhead: I know. We literally, we were like, “We think that’s Marvell.” Right?

Daniel Newman: By the way, the Nokia, the new logo, the anyRAN logo, sitting right behind Raghib and Ari’s head back there. So, let’s get started. Raghib, talk a little bit about the big announcements you’re going to make here at MWC.

Raghib Hussain: Yeah, so we announced OCTEON Fusion 10 Fusion family, which is a part of OCTEON 10 family five nanometer product. This is the product which is optimized for power, performance, and latency. This product has a specialized hardware acceleration for the L1 processing, as well as L2 processing and radio processing. So, the same product goes into the traditional brand to you, as well as vRAN, as well as radio. With a combination of OCTEON 10, OCTEON Fusion family, we can serve all the needs of 5G. Dell and Samsung has announced adopting this solution, as well as the same technology goes into Nokia ReefShark solution, as well.

Patrick Moorhead: And it’s no coincidence that, Ari, you’re sitting here, too. You had a couple of big announcements related yesterday, as well.

Ari Kynaslahti: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. The new brand, but okay, let’s not go there. Anyway, that’s the topic of today really. And we have a great partnership here with Marvell on that one. As you said, we have the L1 acceleration, we have developed together the ReefShark L1 associate for that one. And then we have the other partners, the web-scalers, the server makers, Google Cloud, AWS, Azure, HP, Dell, IBM. So we really want to make anyRAN, the cloud RAN, as we now know it as anyRAN, to work with everybody’s solution. That’s where the name come from.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, I’ve been to a lot of Nokia events and it was really a breakthrough when one of y’all were going through these specifications and the 1.2 Terabit, and I was like for sure I know where that’s coming from. But it seems like the two of you have a really solid collaboration. You have your organic innovation, Marvell is helping in a lot of different ways, whether it’s ReefShark or some of the new technologies you have.

Ari Kynaslahti: Absolutely, yeah, that’s a long term partnership we have and it’s the newest thing.

Daniel Newman: So Raghib, Marvell’s strategy really revolves around optimization. You’ve been focusing a lot on trying to drive cloud optimized silicon. Talk a little bit about how all the announcements here relate to that part of your strategy.

Raghib Hussain: Yeah, definitely. That’s a very good question. So Marvell has always had a strategy to bring the optimized solution to the market. And one of the key component of that is to provide a solution which is addressing the needs, performance need, with the growing data infrastructure. And bringing that within the power envelope and with the efficiency as well as the latency as needed. Right? And this is where this product that we announced is servicing the similar optimized solution for 5G network. Just like we have optimized solution for cloud and other infrastructure. Now a strategy of Marvell, we adapted, keeping in mind that the industry needs more and more solution which is optimized using hardware acceleration. You can do the same thing with brute force by doing it in a software, but in reality you can’t get the performance and the power efficiency, and that is why we believe in optimized solution. And this is where we also work closely with Nokia to bring optimized solution for anyRAN. So that’s our overall strategy.

Patrick Moorhead: Maybe we can talk some specifics. I mean ever since the first processor came out, pretty much people knew hey to get the most optimal performance per watt in any function, there is some burden that you do put on the software. But if you’re looking for 50, 80%, whatever acceleration, it’s worth it, particularly now since the decline of Moore’s law. And I give Marvell a lot of credit for that, it took years and years, an acquisition may have been involved in that as well. But let’s talk specific, Ari. How does this accelerated computing or optimized computing help out in the RAN?

Ari Kynaslahti: We cannot make it commercially viable without it.

Patrick Moorhead: Okay. That’s very specific. Thank you.

Ari Kynaslahti: That’s how serious it is. I mean I couldn’t sell cloud RAN without acceleration.

Patrick Moorhead: So it just wouldn’t be able to do-

Ari Kynaslahti: No.

Patrick Moorhead: What it needed to do in the form, factor and power.

Ari Kynaslahti: The power consumption would be too much. We would not be able to support enough number of sales, number of subscribers per competitive amount of hardware.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Ari Kynaslahti: It’s just doesn’t work without it.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah.

Raghib Hussain: And one other thing I would like to add, the key feature is to bring feature parity from traditional RAN to the vRAN. Right? And that is a angle which is keeping in the power envelope, it is almost impossible to get the performance of all those features-

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Raghib Hussain: In the same power envelope solution. And this is where, I believe, where Nokia, anyRAN actually, is demonstrating the feature parity between both solutions.

Ari Kynaslahti: Yeah, fundamentally important. Feature parity and performance parity, because we have now the same chip in the bare metal as we have in anyRAN.

Patrick Moorhead: Well that’s hard to do because anything that’s virtual you would think is less performant or less efficient than non virtualized. But the two of you together have been able to pull off something that’s super hard to do.

Ari Kynaslahti: Yeah.

Raghib Hussain: I think that should be the prerequisite. You do not want to give up on your feature or performance just because you want operation, and the ease of operation and management. Right?

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah.

Raghib Hussain: So that is where we focus to bring this optimized solution with hardware acceleration to get the feature parity and the performance.

Daniel Newman: So let’s double click a little bit on that. Obviously we’ve talked quite a bit about the Nokia and Marvell partnership and Marvell’s strategy to advance the Open RAN. Dig into that a little bit more. How is Marvell philosophically working to drive that with Nokia, but beyond and just overall be a bigger contributor to the advancing Open RAN?

Raghib Hussain: Yeah, so the promise of Open RAN is that the solutions are available where operators can have flexibility of virtualized solution as well as the overall feature parity and so on. So of course we are partnering with Nokia through their anyRAN program to bring that solution. But we are also enabling together a broader ecosystem as well. As I said earlier, we partner with Dell, and then of course Nokia also partner with Dell and HP and IBM, so we are working with all OEM. In addition, we are working with software partners. So in this show we announced partnership with Wind River, with Red Hat, with VMware to bring their platform solution for the server on the server side for the solution. Right? And then of course for the broader overall ecosystem, we also announced a partnership with ABI.

Patrick Moorhead: Ari, any comments? It is anyRAN.

Ari Kynaslahti: Yeah, I mean-

Patrick Moorhead: So you know?

Ari Kynaslahti: The answer was so perfect, I really don’t want to add too much on the anyRAN side of things there. I mean exactly. We built the partnerships, we create the openness with the partnerships, and that’s all about the anyRAN.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah.

Ari Kynaslahti: Or it’s a little bit bigger than that. So it also has the new elements like the RAN intelligent control and opening the front, or we work with our customers like DOCOMO on that front as well. But anyRAN really is now opening it to the broader ecosystem of the players.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah.

Ari Kynaslahti: We discussed it.

Patrick Moorhead: So Raghib, this next question is for you. I mean one of the promises about Open RAN is there would be more players, more OEMs, more ODMs, really driven by governments I think. Is that actually happening? Expecting to happen more?

Raghib Hussain: So I would say we will see more and more activity in the side because it’s more of a long term place. So of course while industry has focused on, we want to get this thing done, but keep in mind, especially on the software side, it takes a long time to develop all the features which is needed. For us it’s easy to pick up the phone and make a call, but Ari can explain you what all goes behind the scene to make it happen. So having a stable software will take time, but in the meantime you’ll see more and more activities, more OEMs and ODM will bring hardware solution. And then you’ll see solutions coming from OEMs like Nokia and others to drive this. In my mind, it’s going to take some time. Everybody want things to be done overnight, but any technology transition takes a long time, especially in the carrier network space.

Patrick Moorhead: Sure.

Daniel Newman: So I’m staring down the hall, and I’m looking at Google. And so we’re here at MWC and you think, Mobile World? And what’s Google doing here? Google Cloud, right? Google. But obviously we keep hearing more and more about the big public cloud companies and then the technology providers that are helping build on public cloud backbones. How is 5G and public cloud, what’s the tie up there? Because we’re hearing more about it Ari.

Ari Kynaslahti: It’s very much around the VCU. So anyRAN has two components, the vDU and the vCU. And the vCU being not so daylight critical, we can have it on the Edge Cloud data servers as the Google Cloud for instance. vDU, we need to have it closer to the radio, maximum 10 kilometers away from the radio.

Daniel Newman: Yeah.

Ari Kynaslahti: Doesn’t really work with its cloud data centers of these guys, then we typically put that one on the base station side. But the vCU, we can put it in the Google Cloud.

Raghib Hussain: So at the application level, of course Ari explain you what is at the hardware level, but if you abstract it out, these cloud have to expand into what is called Edge Cloud and get as close to the end use application. Right? So that can not happen only by the wired network. So the 5G, and then of course going into 6G, the huge part of the networking has to be wireless network. So now cloud guys, their focus is to provide application services to their end customers. And without having ability to expand into the wireless network, they can not provide that service.

Patrick Moorhead: That’s right.

Raghib Hussain: And that is why they are very much motivated to have this capability. Now, of course, their business is not to sell the mobile. In other words, they will not replace the cellular phone companies. Their target is to have the platform where they can offer the services on top of that platform. That’s why they will partner mainly with the OEMs and other service provider like Nokia and others to have that capability and then provide solution on top of that.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, it is an interesting model when you have… And I got pre briefed by the big North American cloud folks, and they were all talking about exactly that. They see the opportunity there, but also I think we’ve arrived at a place where there’s value from cloud. There’s value from companies like Nokia and of course Marvell, all three companies can win. And it took us probably a decade to get here. Right?

Raghib Hussain: Wow.

Patrick Moorhead: Where there were these wild ideas of certain companies taking over certain spots. But I think we’ve arrived at who does what best, and people are finally doing that. Gentlemen, I really want to thank you for coming on the show. We’ll probably sit here another 25 minutes and do that, but you guys have meetings and customers to talk to. But I really appreciate you coming on the show.

Raghib Hussain: Thank you.

Ari Kynaslahti: Thank you for having us. Thank you so much.

Daniel Newman: And we did talk about AWS Marvell tie up on our show just this week, didn’t we?

Patrick Moorhead: I know. I know.

Daniel Newman: We sure did.

Patrick Moorhead: Exactly.

Daniel Newman: All right, everybody. Well, thank you so much for joining us here in the Marvell booth at MWC 2023 in Barcelona. For Patrick Moorhead, for myself, we really appreciate you tuning in. Hit that subscribe button, check out all the videos that we’re going to do here on the show or in the booth, on the road, and of course all of our other shows, I promise you they’re worth watching. But for this one, it’s time to say goodbye. Have a great show everyone, we’ll see you later.

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.