Marvell Pushing Gigabit Ethernet with Prestera

In the race to bring faster, cheaper Internet to the masses, broadband circuit designer Marvell Monday released a new integrated crossbar switch fabric that its claims puts seventy-two 3.125 Gbps serializer/deserializers (SERDES) on a single chip.

Part of its developing Prestera lineup, the Sunnyvale-based company said its Marvell Prestera-FX crossbar switch fabric is perfect for upgrading to Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and has got the same moxie as the company’s Alaska X 10 Gigabit physical layer transceivers.

Marvell product marketing manager Tony Hsu said the technology will be marketed to Tier-1 switch vendors like Cisco and Nortel as an integral part of their chassis systems.

“Gigabit Ethernet is certainly the trend,” Hsu told “This is an opportunity for first tier vendors as a transition is taking place that touches on the need for another upgrade cycle. The last time there was this kind of in advance in switching technology it was the jump from 10 to 100 Megabit Ethernet. This time around history will repeat itself.”

Marvell offers two crossbar switch fabric solutions, the 12-port Prestera-FX9210 and 9-port Prestera-FX9110. The company said both take advantage of a cell-based, output queue architecture that supports up to 144 Gbps non-blocking performance.

For example, the devices carry up to 48 GbE ports per slot each with 2 x 120 Gbps capacity. Included in the top-end model is multi-layer (2/3/4) wire-speed LAN switching; up to 576 GbE ports; wire-speed forwarding backplane up to 700 Mbps; metro-class features like MPLS, load-balancing, NAT and ACL; and advanced security 802.1X with MAC extension. The Prestera-FX device also only consumes 18 Watts of power making it perfect for server blade configurations.

The Prestera-FX9110 crossbar switch fabric integrates 54 SERDES ports running at 3.125 Gbps, providing a net bandwidth of 270 Gbps through the fabric. The device also supports a maximum of 108 Gigabit Ethernet ports running at full-wire-speed.

The devices are currently sampling, and production is estimated to begin in the second quarter of 2003. Pricing will start at $350 for the 9-port device and $450 for the 12-port device.

Marvell’s drive toward Gigabit Ethernet is also expected to help computer makers like Hewlett-Packard and Dell who are also pushing to put faster connections in on their motherboards.

“I think the key driving factor will be cost,” said Hsu. “At this point, if the cost comes down to 2x or 2.5x it will be reasonable to include LAN in the motherboard. For the switch fabric the OEM will either price per port or ASP per port.”

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