Broadcom's Latest Switch SoC to Help Drive 10GbE Adoption

The vendor's upcoming Trident-II+ will help enterprises that are virtualizing their data centers to migrate from 1GbE to 10GbE, officials say.

Ethernet networking

Broadcom introduced the next generation of its Trident networking switch silicon on April 20.

The company said the StrataXGS Trident-II+ Series systems-on-chip (SoCs) offers greater bandwidth, scalability and energy efficiency that enterprises are demanding as they move to 10GbE virtualized data centers and beyond.

The new chips, which are currently sampling, also complement the silicon Broadcom offers for carriers and cloud as well as hyperscale data centers.

Vendors and analysts talk a lot about 10GbE, 25GbE and 100GbE, particularly in larger businesses and scale-out environments. But the story in enterprise data centers is more about Gigabit Ethernet, at least for now, according to Rochen Sankar, director of product management and marketing for Broadcom's Infrastructure and Networking Group. Currently, more than 60 percent of installed servers use 1GbE links, Sankar told eWEEK.

However, that is changing. Enterprises continue to virtualize their data centers as they try to deal with the growing number of users connecting to their networks and generating more data, thus increasing the need for greater bandwidth. Cloud computing, mobile devices, social networking and video streaming are all helping to fuel the demand.

"The trend toward virtualizing the network is pretty quickly following the virtualization of the rest of the data center," he said.

By 2018, analysts expect that most enterprises will have transitioned to 10GbE, with an eye toward 40GbE and 100GbE.

IDC reported that in the fourth quarter of 2014, 10GbE switch revenue jumped 5.2 percent over the same period a year earlier, hitting $2.3 billion. Also, 10GbE port shipments grew 24.4 percent, as average selling prices fell. In addition, 40GbE switch sales reached more than $520 million in the quarter and grew more than 100 percent year-over-year.

"Despite precipitous price erosion, 10Gb Ethernet is the primary growth driver of the Ethernet switching market, with 40Gb Ethernet growing in stature quickly, as data centers seek greater capacity to deliver a feverishly proliferating ecosystem of enterprise and cloud applications," Rohit Mehra, an analyst at IDC, said in a statement. "The 1Gb Ethernet market remains important to the enterprise campus network, although price declines will potentially challenge market growth."

Matthias Machowinski, an analyst at Infonetics Research, said in a statement last month that 10GbE revenue growth had "essentially stalled as large data center operators migrate to 40GE and mainstream enterprises have yet to widely adopt 10GE. As a result, 40GE is the key growth segment right now, but we expect this to last only another one to two years, after with 25GE and 100GE technology takes over."

Broadcom officials said the 28-nanometer Trident-II+ will help accelerate that transition from 1GbE to 10GbE and higher. This will enable switch makers to build high-density 10GbE top-of-rack, blade and aggregation switches, and will offer enterprises merchant silicon that will be an alternative to custom ASICs. According to the company, the new chip will consume at least 30 percent less power than the current Trident-II SoCs (a data center using 300 top-of-rack switches powered by the Trident-II+ can save more than 100 megawatt hours), offer 1.28 terabit-per-second switching performance and twice the performance for data center virtualization overlays, including VXLAN.

The new SoCs also will complement Broadcom's latest StrataXGS Tomahawk (for hyperscale environments) and StrataDNX (for carrier and cloud core) switch silicon by supporting 10GbE connections to the servers in enterprise data centers and private clouds while providing 100GbE connection to the spine layer and between racks. It supports more than 100 ports of 10GbE, 32 ports of 40GbE and up to eight ports of 100GbE, according to Broadcom.

It also is pin-compatible with Trident-II, allowing for easy upgrades.

The capabilities in the Trident-II+ SoCs are aimed at the rapidly changing network switch environments, which increasingly are "large and non-monolithic," which is forcing enterprises to look for merchant silicon alternatives to ASIC chips, Broadcom's Sankar said.