SAN JOSE, Calif. — Broadcom aims to extend the reach of Ethernet into time-sensitive embedded markets with a new high-end switch. Quartz is the first 10-Gbits/s Ethernet chip to support the full range of standards for deterministic networking.
The 28-nm StrataConnect BCM53570 targets a broad range of systems, including self-driving cars, cellular base stations, professional audio/video gear, and high-end industrial automation systems. It is sampling now in two versions with configurable port speeds starting from a switch with 24-Gbit ports and four 10G ports.
“We are providing determinism at layer 2, guaranteeing delivery of packets within minimum and maximum tolerances,” said John Mui, director of marketing for Broadcom’s core switch group. “Nothing in Ethernet has been able to do that, although there are some industrial real-time protocols similar to Ethernet, but not supported as IEEE standards.”
The chip could be used to replace CPRI and RapidIO devices in cellular base stations. It is an alternative to Profinet or EtherCAT in factory systems. In self-driving cars, it could be used to connect dozens of sensors and cameras.
The Quartz chips support features identified by a suite of nine related IEEE standards for time-sensitive networks (TSNs).
Quartz packs plenty of configurable Ethernet ports. (Images: Broadcom)
“The TSN standards enable new applications in which basic Ethernet was unsuitable,” said Bob Wheeler, principal networking analyst for the Linley Group (Mountain View, California). “Most of these markets are transitioning from some other technologies, so they aren’t large Ethernet segments yet.”
He added, “Marvell and Microsemi are pursuing TSN designs, but they both address lower-bandwidth applications. Quartz will be overkill for some industrial networks, which are only now adopting Gigabit Ethernet.”
Factories have deployed as many as 50 million industrial Ethernet nodes of various types to date, according to IMS Research. The Ethernet links used in today’s cars are typically lower-end 5- to 8-port devices for infotainment and driver-assistance systems, according to Mui.
Some providers of silicon IP and FPGAs have TSN products now for building ASICs for time-sensitive networks. “We support all of the TSN standards with standard products — others support some of them and are limited in bandwidth and number of ports,” said Mui.
Quartz aims to support TSN profiles written or being developed by the IEEE and the AVNU Alliance to define minimum/maximum latencies and jitter for a variety of different systems. The IEEE developed a profile for telecom systems, while AVNU is working in ones for automotive, A/V, and industrial systems and expects to hold plugfests for them.
Broadcom’s chip supports nine related TSN standards. Click to enlarge
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times