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Broadcom Fills Out 5G-Network Line

March 19, 2019

Author: Bob Wheeler

From fronthaul to core, 5G networks demand the newest in Ethernet technologies. Broadcom already offered many of them, but it recently announced two new switch chips that upgrade its aggregation capabilities. Due to sample next quarter, Qumran2a and Jericho2c build on the initial 16nm StrataDNX family announced one year ago. They also join the company’s Monterey fronthaul switch, which has reached production. Broadcom’s 5G switching portfolio now spans 300Gbps fronthaul chips to chassis chipsets that scale to hundreds of terabits.

Jericho2 serves line cards in those core chassis, handling port speeds up to 400Gbps. It’s a massive 10Tbps chip that integrates a pair of High Bandwidth Memory 2 (HBM2) die stacks in package. Offering 4.8Tbps of bandwidth, the new Jericho2c targets provider-edge routers and metro backhaul, where 100G Ethernet ports are more common. It’s essentially half a Jericho2, using one packet-processing pipeline instead of two and a single HBM2 stack. Jericho2c adds an Interlaken interface for connection to OTN framers such as Microchip’s Digi-G5.

Qumran2a targets fixed-configuration systems for the midhaul, which is a new 5G-network segment that sits between distributed baseband units (DUs) and central units (CUs). It offers 800Gbps of bandwidth, more than twice that of its access-oriented predecessor, the 28nm QumranAX. It handles the Optical Internetworking Forum’s Flex Ethernet (FlexE) specification as well as port speeds up to 400Gbps. Unlike Jericho2, it uses external GDDR6 buffer memory to reduce cost relative to HBM2, which requires an expensive interposer.

 To complete its 5G offering, Broadcom has taped out six different switch chips. Although some of them serve multiple markets, the company’s 5G investment is nonetheless considerable. Most Ethernet chip vendors focus on other markets, particularly data centers, leaving OEM ASICs as Broadcom’s primary 5G competition.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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