Broadcom launches new high-speed network chip for data centers

Chipmaker Broadcom Inc. today introduced the StrataXGS Tomahawk 5, a new processor chip designed to power data center switches.

Many enterprise applications are too computationally intensive to run on a single server. Therefore, companies often distribute applications across multiple servers. These machines are linked together by a network that they use to exchange data and coordinate their work.

Broadcom’s Tomahawk 5 chip is designed to power switches, devices that play a key role in data center networks. Switches are responsible for moving information between different systems in a data center. Broadcom’s new chip is optimized for switches that use Ethernet, a set of hardware and software technologies on which enterprises typically base their networks.

The Tomahawk 5 is produced using a five-nanometer chip manufacturing process. An Ethernet switch equipped with the chip can handle 51.2 terabits of network traffic per second, nearly twice as much as Broadcom’s previous generation chip. The company claims each Tomahawk 5 is capable of supporting hundreds of network connections.

“The delivery of the world’s first 51.2 Tbps switch two years after the release of Tomahawk 4, the industry’s first 25 Tbps switch, is a testament to the exceptional execution and innovation of the Broadcom team,” said said Ram Velaga, senior vice president and general manager of Broadcom. Basic switching group. “Since introducing Tomahawk 1 in 2014, Broadcom has consistently doubled bandwidth approximately every two years.”

In addition to increasing chip speed, Broadcom has equipped the Tomahawk 5 with several new features.

Each network link in a data center can only transmit a limited amount of information at any given time. If too much information is sent at once, performance issues arise. According to Broadcom, the Tomahawk 5 includes a feature called Cognitive Routing that automatically routes data traffic through the least congested network links to avoid performance issues.

Cognitive routing is complemented by a new load balancing capability. Broadcom says the Tomahawk 5 can detect if a network link is experiencing technical issues and automatically redirect traffic to other links. As a result, the risk of breakdowns and other technical problems is reduced.

Data center operators do not rely solely on the built-in features of their network chips to optimize connections. They also often use specialized algorithms that collect data about network traffic, detect when traffic is moving slower than it should, and automatically fix the problem. According to Broadcom, the Tomahawk 5 facilitates the collection of data that enterprise network algorithms use to optimize traffic.

Some of the Tomahawk 5’s data collection features are powered by six Arm Ltd processors. that Broadcom has built into the chip. Additionally, Broadcom offers the chip with a set of integrated optical components. The components make it easier to integrate the chip into optical networks, high-speed networks that transmit data in the form of light rather than electricity as is common practice.

Broadcom is a major chip supplier for networking equipment. Thanks to a series multi-billion dollar acquisitions made in recent years, the company also has a significant presence in the enterprise software market. Earlier this year, Broadcom signed a $60 billion deal to acquire VMware Inc. in order to expand its software business.

Photo: Broadcom

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Ramon J. Espinoza