Marvell enters active electrical cable chips space and expands MMF device portfolio

March 2, 2022
A Marvell source believes AECs will become the option of choice at reaches from 1 to 5 m for 400G and 800G requirements based on 100G/lane.

Ahead of OFC 2022, Marvell (NASDAQ: MRVL) has made a pair of announcements related to new chip families. The company is entering the active electrical cable (AEC) market with the Alaska A PAM4 DSPs. Marvell also has unveiled what it asserts is the first 8x100-Gbps device series for multimode fiber networks; the line includes the previously announced Spica PAM4 DSP and the new IN5614DV VCSEL linear driver and IN5669TA VCSEL transimpedance amplifier (TIA).

The Alaska A DSPs will help enable what Nigel Alvares, vice president of solutions marketing at Marvell, states will be a significant market for AECs for high-speed connections between server network interface cards (NICs) and top-of-rack (ToR) switches as well as interconnectivity among disaggregated switches using 100G/lane transmission technology. While direct attached copper cables (DACs) have predominated in such short-reach applications at lower transmission rates, transmission and cable thickness limitations will require a different approach when moving to higher-speed connections that leverage 100G/lane architectures, Alvares says. Enter AECs, which he believes will become the option of choice at reaches from 1 to 5 m. Active optical cables would take over for distances beyond 5 m.

The Alaska A family includes a pair of 6-nm devices for AEC applications. The Alaska A 400G MV-CHA140C0C targets 400G requirements while the MV-CHA180C0C addresses 800G needs. Both can compensate for >40 dB of loss, better than the 28-30 dB of competing alternatives, Alvares asserted. Both devices are sampling to AEC development partners and Marvell offers a cable reference design for 400G and 800G AECs and software stack with CMIS5.0 support. Spokespeople from Amphenol, Celestica, Luxshare-tech, Molex, TE Connectivity, and Volex contributed quotes for the Alaska A announcement. [Editor's Note: TE Connectivity was added to this list after this story was posted based on new information.]

“AEC is a must-have technology for 100G/lane connectivity, and it is being driven by cloud data centers looking for optimal switch-to-switch and switch-to-ToR interconnects,” said Alan Weckel, founding analyst for 650 Group, via the press announcement. “Although the AEC market is relatively new, we forecast the market growing at a CAGR of over 100% for the next five years as higher speeds continue permeating the server to top of rack links. Marvell entering this market will help accelerate the deployment of 800G/400G AEC solutions.”

800G capabilities for multimode fiber

The 800G multimode fiber devices are designed to support emerging requirements within artificial intelligence and machine learing (AI/ML) as well as high-performance computing for such high-speed interconnect, also at 100G per lane. The family will support both active optical cables as well as optical transceivers. Alvares says that Spica is now in production (and supports single-mode as well as multimode fiber requirements), while the IN5614DV VCSEL linear driver and IN5669TA VCSEL TIA are sampling to what Alvares termed “traditional optical partners.”

“The demand for high-speed optical interconnects in data centers continues to exceed expectations, increasing 80x over the past decade to reach 800G,” commented Vlad Kozlov, founder and CEO, LightCounting Market Research, via a Marvell press release. “We predict continued strong demand for short-reach, low-cost multimode technology, and Marvell’s 800G multimode platform is the first solution to address this market need. The platform delivers a highly integrated, cost-effective, and easy-to-deploy approach that’s optimized to drive massive data center growth in the coming years.”

Marvell will display these new products and others OFC in San Diego, March 8-10, 2022, in Booth 2301.

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About the Author

Stephen Hardy | Editorial Director and Associate Publisher, Lightwave

Stephen Hardy is editorial director and associate publisher of Lightwave and Broadband Technology Report, part of the Lighting & Technology Group at Endeavor Business Media. Stephen is responsible for establishing and executing editorial strategy across the both brands’ websites, email newsletters, events, and other information products. He has covered the fiber-optics space for more than 20 years, and communications and technology for more than 35 years. During his tenure, Lightwave has received awards from Folio: and the American Society of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) for editorial excellence. Prior to joining Lightwave in 1997, Stephen worked for Telecommunications magazine and the Journal of Electronic Defense.

Stephen has moderated panels at numerous events, including the Optica Executive Forum, ECOC, and SCTE Cable-Tec Expo. He also is program director for the Lightwave Innovation Reviews and the Diamond Technology Reviews.

He has written numerous articles in all aspects of optical communications and fiber-optic networks, including fiber to the home (FTTH), PON, optical components, DWDM, fiber cables, packet optical transport, optical transceivers, lasers, fiber optic testing, and more.

You can connect with Stephen on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.

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