By Kristin Hehir, Senior Manager, PR and Marketing, Marvell
The sheer volume of data traffic moving across networks daily is mind-boggling almost any way you look at it. During the past decade, global internet traffic grew by approximately 20x, according to the International Energy Agency. One contributing factor to this growth is the popularity of mobile devices and applications: Smartphone users spend an average of 5 hours a day, or nearly 1/3 of their time awake, on their devices, up from three hours just a few years ago. The result is incredible amounts of data in the cloud that need to be processed and moved. Around 70% of data traffic is east-west traffic, or the data traffic inside data centers. Generative AI, and the exponential growth in the size of data sets needed to feed AI, will invariably continue to push the curb upward.
Yet, for more than a decade, total power consumption has stayed relatively flat thanks to innovations in storage, processing, networking and optical technology for data infrastructure. The debut of PAM4 digital signal processors (DSPs) for accelerating traffic inside data centers and coherent DSPs for pluggable modules have played a large, but often quiet, role in paving the way for growth while reducing cost and power per bit.
Marvell at ECOC 2023
At Marvell, we’ve been gratified to see these technologies get more attention. At the recent European Conference on Optical Communication, Dr. Loi Nguyen, EVP and GM of Optical at Marvell, talked with Lightwave editor in chief, Sean Buckley, on how Marvell 800 Gbps and 1.6 Tbps technologies will enable AI to scale.
By Samuel Liu, Senior Director, Product Line Management, Marvell
Digital technology has what you could call a real estate problem. Hyperscale data centers now regularly exceed 100,000 square feet in size. Cloud service providers plan to build 50 to 100 edge data centers a year and distributed applications like ChatGPT are further fueling a growth of data traffic between facilities. Similarly, this explosive surge in traffic also means telecommunications carriers need to upgrade their wired and wireless networks, a complex and costly undertaking that will involve new equipment deployment in cities all over the world.
Weaving all of these geographically dispersed facilities into a fast, efficient, scalable and economical infrastructure is now one of the dominant issues for our industry.
Pluggable modules based on coherent digital signal processors (CDSPs) debuted in the last decade to replace transponders and other equipment used to generate DWDM compatible optical signals. These initial modular products didn’t offer the same performance as the incumbent solutions, and could only be deployed in limited use cases. These early modules, with their large form factors, had performance limitations and did not support the required high-density data transmission. Over time, advances in technology optimized the performance of pluggable modules, and CDSP speeds grew from 100 to 200 and 400 Gbps. Continued innovation, and the development of an open ecosystem, helped expand the potential applications.
By Michael Kanellos, Head of Influencer Relations, Marvell
AI’s growth is unprecedented from any angle you look at it. The size of large training models is growing 10x per year. ChatGPT’s 173 million plus users are turning to the website an estimated 60 million times a day (compared to zero the year before.). And daily, people are coming up with new applications and use cases.
As a result, cloud service providers and others will have to transform their infrastructures in similarly dramatic ways to keep up, says Chris Koopmans, Chief Operations Officer at Marvell in conversation with Futurum’s Daniel Newman during the Six Five Summit on June 8, 2023.
“We are at the beginning of at least a decade-long trend and a tectonic shift in how data centers are architected and how data centers are built,” he said.
The transformation is already underway. AI training, and a growing percentage of cloud-based inference, has already shifted from running on two-socket servers based around general processors to systems containing eight more GPUs or TPUs optimized to solve a smaller set of problems more quickly and efficiently.