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Marvell First With Octal 5GBase-T PHY

June 20, 2017

Author: Loring Wirbel

Marvell is sampling the industry’s first eight-port PHY for 5GBase-T as well as an optimized single-port device. The single-port 88E2110, meeting full 802.3bz specs, is a natural follow-on to the 88E20xx family designed around the pre-standard NBase-T specifications. But the octal 88E2180, supporting 2.5GbE and 5GbE over Category 5e unshielded twisted-pair, indicates Marvell’s belief that OEMs will design high-density systems that omit 10GBase-T support.

As a partner with Aquantia in founding the NBase-T Alliance, Marvell followed that company’s DSP-based design method and offered products based strictly on NBase-T—before 802.3bz’s completion. Switches integrating NBase-T were the earliest system products, but these enterprise-focused offerings implement 10GBase-T in addition to 2.5/5GBase-T. The 88E20xx family came in single- and quad-port versions. Marvell then made an octal PHY practical by reducing the power dissipation of its full 802.3bz product to 1.3W per port, totaling about 10W (typical).

Marvell is playing to its strengths by offering discrete low-power PHYs for 802.3bz. Although it competes with Aquantia for ASIC-based designs at Cisco and HPE, the company is unique in offering a complete solution for ASSP-based switches. It offers a reference design using its AlleyCat 3X switch to deliver 32xGbE+16x2.5GbE access ports. We believe Broadcom has developed an 802.3bz PHY, but it has yet to reveal such a product. Although it could quickly deliver such a device, Marvell has a first-mover advantage in addressing specialized 2.5GbE and 5GbE applications.

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