Posted: August 30, 2021
Broadcom develops three distinct switch product lines to address distinctly different customer needs — the enterprise, service provider and data center markets. Standard features are leveraged across product lines, while features and scales that are unnecessary for the market segment are avoided.
Figure 1: Broadcom’s three optimized switch product lines
Broadcom spends more than 25 percent of revenue on R&D, continually innovating and developing purpose-built silicon for the various market segments. Bringing predictable purpose-built silicon to the market enables ecosystem providers to deliver industry-leading platforms for the respective market segments. A key focus is to develop optimized products for each market segment, providing the right combination of high performance and low power for each market segment. Engineers are highly motivated to develop innovative methods of reducing power, not relying solely on process geometries to achieve power reduction.
Figure 2: Predictable cadence of execution
Over the last decade, the switch device’s bandwidth has increased dramatically — more than 40x — doubling every 18 to 24 months, with the transistor count going up over 15x in a monolithic device.
Figure 3: Switching power vs. process geometry and transistor count
Interestingly, in this journey, power per normalized bandwidth has been reduced by over 75 percent, enabling air cooling even at high switch bandwidths. Achieving this level of power reduction is possible because of two factors: process geometry and architecture innovations. While any chip vendor can realize process geometry benefits, what sets Broadcom apart is the architectural innovations.
In addition to the power reduction due to process geometry, key architectural innovations have resulted in hundreds of watts in power savings in the Tomahawk product line. For example, consider hyperscale data centers, on a global scale, that deploy Tomahawk3/Tomahawk4 switches vs. other solutions. The amount of CO2 emission reductions due to architectural innovations would be the equivalent of taking over 2 million cars off the road per year!
The cumulative effect of the many architectural innovations for power reduction may not seem obvious, but it has a butterfly effect on reducing the carbon footprint in the world. At Broadcom, our engineers take pride in doing just that.