Today’s infrastructure processors are burdened with handling massive data traffic loads while maintaining end-to-end security. To this end, Marvell has introduced the OCTEON TX2 infrastructure processors, which target a wide variety of wired and wireless networking equipment including switches, routers, secure gateways, firewall, network monitoring, 5G base stations, and smart network interface controllers (NICs).  

The parts provide a 2.5x performance improvement over the company’s previous generation processors, according to John Sakamoto, vice president of Infrastructure Processor Business Unit at Marvell, in a recent conference call with FierceElectronics. “This is to meet requirements for packet data processing, the incorporation of encryption algorithms for end-to-end security, and high-end firewall crypto offoad.”

The OCTEON TX2 infrastructure processor family combines up to 36 cores, based on the Arm v8-A architecture with configurable and programmable hardware accelerator blocks, connected by Marvell’s highly scalable coherent interconnect. Marvell claims that compared to architectures that process data solely on CPU cores, these accelerator blocks—which include security, packet processing, and traffic management functions—have sufficient processing capability to meet the most demanding performance and power requirements. 

Marvell supports the OCTEON platform with robust software ecosystems consisting of both open source and commercial offerings. The platform includes firmware, Linux OS and multiple distributions, virtualization, containers, data plane development kit (DPDK), protocol stacks, infrastructure management and orchestration like OpenStack and Kubernetes, and virtual network functions (VNFs). In addition, Marvell supports a full routing stack including TCP, SSL and IPSEC support and DPDK support for L2/L3 forwarding and IPSEC.

The processors come in four families designated the CN91xx, CN92xx, CN96xx, and CN98xx. Depending on the version, they have speeds ranging from 20 Gbps to 200 Gbps to meet a range of processing requirements. Most of the processors are available now with reference designs and developments kits; the CN98xx will begin sampling in the second quarter of 2020.