Marvell debuts 1.6T PAM4 electro-optics for cloud AI/ML, data center networks

March 8, 2023
Extending the multi-source pluggable optics ecosystem for 1.6Tbps mainstream adoption, Marvell's breakthrough 200 Gbps per lambda DSP doubles the bandwidth of optical modules and enables cloud-optimized 51.2 Tbps networking architectures in a 1RU chassis.

At OFC 2023, data infrastructure semiconductor specialist Marvell Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRVL) unveiled its Marvell Nova 1.6 Tbps PAM4 electro-optics platform, billed as the industry's first of its kind, which is now sampling to customers.

As reckoned by a Marvell press release:

Delivering a breakthrough in optical connectivity, Nova enables the highest speed of data movement in cloud artificial intelligence (AI) / machine learning (ML) and data center networks.

At the core of emerging, generative AI applications are AI clusters, thousands of supercomputers interconnected by ultra-high bandwidth and low latency optical connections.

Powered by a groundbreaking 200 Gbps/lambda optical DSP, Nova doubles the optical bandwidth of current solutions to enable 1.6 Tbps pluggable modules for scaling AI clusters.

Nova extends the multi-source pluggable optics ecosystem and provides the advanced technology needed to alleviate data center network bottlenecks as the industry transitions to 51.2 Tbps networking architectures.

Value proposition

The company notes that cloud data center operators must continually expand capacity to meet their customers' insatiable demand for bandwidth, now growing at more than 50% per year, driven by the rapid deployment of applications such as AI.

As reckoned by Marvell, at the same time, cloud data center operators must overcome stringent cost, reliability and power challenges to remain economically viable.

In response to such challenges, the company contends its Nova PAM4-based optical modules double networking bandwidth while reducing power and cost per bit by 30%.

By doubling the bandwidth per lambda, the company says the Nova-based modules reduce the number of lasers and related optical components by 50%, and are expected to be twice as reliable as current alternatives, added Marvell.

The Nova platform leverages four generations—from 200 Gbps to 1.6 Tbps—of the company's PAM4 DSP technology, enabling data center operators to adopt 1.6 Tbps optical modules in the OSFP-XD form factor.

The Nova 1.6 Tbps platform enables 51.2 Tbps switching in 1RU to improve bandwidth density in the cloud data center.

In tandem with Marvell's Teralynx 10 51.2 Tbps switch chip, the company says the Nova platform reduces the burden of verification and interoperability testing between switch and optics, accelerating the deployment of these next-generation technologies.

Key features of the Nova electro-optics platform, per Marvell, include: 200 Gbps per channel line side transmitter interface supporting a wide range of high-speed lasers; 200 Gbps per channel line-side receiver with companion Marvell 112-Gbaud TIAs, providing best-in-class linearity and low noise; integrated laser drivers, optimizing power dissipation; katency-optimized FEC for 200 Gbps traffic.

Marvell is showcasing the Nova platform alongside its comprehensive portfolio of cloud-optimized electro-optics and networking products at OFC 2023 in San Diego, from March 7-9, 2022.

Learn more about the Marvell Nova electro-optics platform.


"Marvell's Nova platform is a significant milestone in optical connectivity innovation, offering the bandwidth, power reduction, and system efficiency that will enable us to deliver next-generation pluggable transceiver performance. Nova's proven PAM4 DSP technology, TIAs and drivers bring a reliable solution that will help us speed time to market and advance the 1.6 Tbps optical ecosystem as AI workloads ramp in the data center."

-- Osa Mok, chief marketing officer, InnoLight Technology

"As new AI and ML compute architectures drive increased bandwidth requirements, high-speed optics will continue to form the backbone of cloud data centers. Our next-generation electro-optics platform scales data interconnect transfer speeds to meet the needs of the most demanding AI workloads. We are thrilled to lead another breakthrough in electro-optics speed transition and expand Marvell's market-leading PAM4 DSP portfolio with the availability of Nova."

-- Dr. Loi Nguyen, executive vice president, optical and copper connectivity group at Marvell

"Optical modules are the critical link inside the data center to keep data moving. They are one of the unsung heroes of data infrastructure. Nova extends Marvell's track record of leadership in optical DSPs and provides a path for cloud data center operators to increase their network capacity while reducing cost, power and maintenance per bit. Technology like this will be instrumental in the upcoming upgrade to 51.2 Tbps switching."

-- Vlad Kozlov, founder and CEO of Light Counting Market Research

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