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Broadcom Introduces Industry’s First Switch With On-Chip Neural Network

In a world’s first for switching silicon, our Clusterpartner Broadcom Inc. today announced a novel on-chip, neural-network inference engine called NetGNT (Networking General-purpose Neural-network Traffic-analyzer) in its new, software-programmable Trident 5-X12 chip.

NetGNT works in parallel to augment the standard packet-processing pipeline. The standard pipeline is one-packet/one-path, meaning that it looks at one packet as it takes a specific path through the chip’s ports and buffers. NetGNT, in contrast, is an ML inference engine and can be trained to look for different types of traffic patterns that span the entire chip.

For example, NetGNT can look for a traffic pattern common in AI/ML workloads called “incast” in which many packet flows all converge on the same port and buffer at roughly the same time causing congestion. NetGNT can recognize this pattern in real-time as it begins and invoke congestion-control techniques to avoid degraded network performance. And since NetGNT runs in hardware at full line rate— there is no impact to throughput or latency.

We continue to push the envelope and introduce brand-new technologies such as NetGNT to the market. We also listen very closely to our customers who have made it clear that one size does not fit all. They rely on us to deliver a broad portfolio of chips, customized for different applications,” said Ram Velaga, senior vice president and general manager, Core Switching Group, Broadcom. “Trident 5-X12 is the most power-efficient ToR (Top of Rack) on the market, while still adding cutting-edge new features that our customers have come to expect from an innovator such as Broadcom.”

Trident 5-X12 is software-programmable, field-upgradable and provides 16.0 Terabits/second of bandwidth, which is double that of the market-leading Trident 4-X9. It also adds support for 800G ports, allowing direct connection to Broadcom’s leading-edge Tomahawk 5, which is used as the spine/fabric in the newest compute and AI/ML data centers. This chip is uniquely positioned to enable a 1RU data center ToR supporting 48x200G downlink ports and 8x800G uplink ports.

Additional Trident 5-X12 Key Benefits

  • Uses 25% less power per 400G port than current market-leading Trident 4-X9

  • Adds support for 800G ports using Broadcom’s industry-leading 100G-PAM4 SerDes, enabling up to 4m DAC and Linear Optics

  • Supports the transition to next-generation CPU & GPU servers using 400G NICs

  • Adds NetGNT to enable new capabilities along with improved network efficiency and performance

  • Adds enhanced telemetry capabilities allowing deeper real-time insights into network operations, which can then be used to train NetGNT

  • Increases forwarding/policy scales to support ever-expanding network sizes

  • Maintains legacy API compatibility with current Broadcom switch chips

  • Fully-programmable using NPL (Network Programming Language), allowing in-field upgrades to add features such as new telemetry, security and traffic engineering

  • NPL-compatible with current Trident 4 family, which is already in use by a large number of customers to develop their own customized switch applications

  • Support for Enterprise SONiC and SAI promote rapid and seamless integration into data center operations frameworks

For more information visit our Clusterpartner website.

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