Broadcom – Tomahawk 3 joins the race to 400 Gbps

Broadcom joined both Innovium and Nephos by publicly announcing 12.8 Tbps fabrics with its Tomahawk 3 product line.  We love new data center silicon from all vendors, it is something we track closely and we see these as a disruptive technologies to the networking ecosystem and an enabler of next generation cloud architectures.  There will be many more such announcements in 2018.  Here are some of our takeaways as we enter 2018.

More rapid innovation cycle – Even noted in the Broadcom’s Tomahawk 3 press release, we see the demand requirements of the hyperscalers as driving a more rapid cycle of silicon over the next couple generations.  Tomahawk 3 is being introduced less than the typical 24 months we see separating prior between generations of data center fabric semiconductors.  This will put significant pressure on parts of the supply chain, especially on optics vendors.  Optics vendors are still ramping for 100 Gbps and now must support both OSFP and DD-QSFP for 400 Gbps, essentially doubling their product diversity needs.  Not only are there more form factors, but there are also different variations of distance and specifications that increase the complexity.

What next – We see two waves of 400 Gbps, the first being based on 56 Gbps SERDES, the second coming in the 2020 timeframe based on 112 Gbps SERDES.  We believe 800 Gbps is not that far off in the horizon as hyperscalers like Amazon and Google continue to grow.  We note that the hyperscalers are about to be 3-4 generations ahead of the enterprise.  This type of lead and technology expertise really changes the conversation around Cloud.  We saw this at Amazon re:Invent with their Annapurna NIC, the Cloud is doing things that just aren’t possible in the enterprise, especially around AI, machine learning, and other new applications that take advantage of the hyperscalers size.

2018, the Year of 200 Gbps and 400 Gbps – In 2018 we will see commercial shipments of both 200 Gbps and 400 Gbps switch ports.  We see significant vendor share changes because of this.  Simply put the Cloud, especially the hyperscalers will be that much bigger by the end of 2018 and they buy a different class of equipment then everyone else.  This will continue to cause the vendor landscape to evolve.