SAN JOSE, Calif. — Startup Innovium aims to leapfrog Broadcom in Ethernet switch chips with a part that sports twice the density at similar area and power consumption. The company also closed a Series C round for $38.3 million, bringing its total funding to $90 million, and named a veteran data center executive to its board of advisors.
Innovium’s TeraLynx packs a 12.8-Tbit/s switch into a single 16-nm die — twice the aggregate bandwidth of Broadcom’s Tomahawk II announced in October. The chip sports 70 Mbytes of buffer memory, more than 50% greater than the buffer in Broadcom’s switch.
In addition, TeraLynx supports 50-Gbit/s serdes to drive 200- to 400-Gbit Ethernet links, rates that current chips can’t handle. The startup expects to cull out lower-yielding parts to create a product line that spans from 3.2 to 12.8 Tbits/s.
Innovium’s co-founder and chief executive, Rajiv Khemani, declined to give details of the architecture for which the company has filed 30 patents. He did say that it uses “a clever way of packing information … some say that we must use compression, but if you do all kinds of compression, you have to do it in a way that doesn’t impact latency,” he said, noting that TeraLynx sports less than 350-nanosecond port-to-port latency independent of protocols used.
Besides supporting more throughput, the chips' large number of ports opens a door to topologies beyond widely used Clos networks used in today’s bandwidth-starved data centers. In addition, Innovium claims that it has unique enhancements for tracking data flows and packet errors, a hot button in an era of software-defined networks.
The chip faces several emerging rivals, including Nephos, a spin-out of Mediatek that debuted last week, claiming a valuation of more than $300 million. Cavium now claims design wins for its XPliant chip with Arista and Brocade. China’s Centec Networks, Marvell, Mellanox, and startup Barefoot Networks are also offering competing chips seeking a slice of the Ethernet switch chip market that Broadcom dominates.
As a result of the rising competition, switch prices are expected to fall from recent highs of $60 per 100-Gbit/s port, or almost $2,000 per chip in 2016. “We think that will fall to $36/port in 2020 … the competitive landscape is certainly heating up,” said Bob Wheeler, principal network analyst for The Linley Group.
The competition comes at a time when data centers at web giants such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google are strapped for bandwidth, leading one veteran to call last month for quickly setting a standard for 800-Gbit/s Ethernet.
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TeraLynx aims to leapfrog Broadcom’s 28- and 16-nm offerings. Click to enlarge. Source: Innovium