Strategic Solutions Series

Aquantia Leads the Multi-Gig Revolution

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  November 21, 2017

Aquantia (News - Alert) was founded in 2014 with the vision of revolutionizing Ethernet and accelerating connectivity. Today the company is a leader in the design, development, and marketing of advanced high-speed communications integrated circuits. As mobility and data consolidation in the cloud continue to gain momentum, Aquantia is addressing the need for Multi-Gig Ethernet solutions which serve a variety of markets and products at both ends of the network, where data is stored and consumed, and where more and more bottlenecks are occurring.

I recently interviewed Aquantia’s Senior Vice President of Business Development Phil Delansay, PhD, to learn more.

Where and by whom are Aquantia solutions used?

Our products are found in the data center, enterprise infrastructure, and access markets.

Data center is a market we are all quite familiar with and to be more specific, enterprise infrastructure consists of primarily the 802.11ac and ax Wi-Fi access points, and the Ethernet switches they connect to. The access market is comprised of both client connectivity for high-performance PCs and the next generation of high-bandwidth gateways in SMB/SoHo and home environments.

Today we target customers in each of our key markets. We have relationships with companies like Cisco, Netgear, Asus, and Dell (News - Alert) just to name a few.

We also have a wide network of distributors that help us leverage channel opportunities to reach a broad range of customers. Our end customers generally are IT professionals and high-performance users with applications ranging from large data centers, to Fortune 500 equipment, to SMB/SoHo, home, and gaming environments.

What pain points does Aquantia help those customers address?
Our solutions are designed to alleviate network bandwidth bottlenecks, deliver leading-edge data speeds at significantly reduced system power consumption, and enable the deployment of the next generation computing and communications infrastructure necessary to address the explosive growth of global IP traffic.

Our customers have come to rely increasingly on Aquantia’s disruptive solutions to change the paradigms in their respective markets, and lead the next upgrade cycles in both data center and enterprise infrastructure. We are seeing the same trends happen in the access markets as individuals look for Multi-Gig solutions in the home or office, and at the same time service providers want to deliver new classes of services.

What new opportunities does Aquantia enable its customers to address?

On the data center and enterprise side, seamless interaction via the network with customers, partners, and among employees is now as crucial for companies as strong fundamentals in finance, marketing, and research and development. It takes a lot of innovation to squeeze new levels of performance out of the existing cabled network infrastructure that exists in almost every business using a network. Aquantia aims to deliver that extra performance to its customers, who then offer it to the end users – whether it’s through a hyperscale data center implementation or the network of a Fortune 500 company.

On the access side, we are continuing our vision of revolutionizing Ethernet by working with OEMs to integrate Aquantia’s AQtion controller to offer Multi-Gig solutions – whether it’s an add-in network card or directly integrated in the device – for home PCs, laptops, workstations, and routers.  In the access use case, the Ethernet capabilities for traditional PCs and workstations have not kept up with modern CPU and GPU capabilities. Users with data intensive workloads can now see immediate benefits of the Multi-Gig connectivity. They can expect improved collaboration, faster data download and back-up, and better communication among teams, including real-time sharing, annotation, and file transfers.

What are some of the key trends we’re seeing in data centers today?

As more data gets consolidated and processed in corporate data centers, the need for higher performance compute nodes has been met with the constant innovation in both processor computing power and the increased use of server virtualization. Both have in turn increased the demand for higher bandwidth connectivity on servers.

Beyond corporate data centers, we’re seeing a demand in hyperscale deployment for much faster connectivity speeds. Hyperscale data centers are really being driven by new levels of creating, sharing, and interactivity with high-resolution content, social media, and streaming services. Hyperscale data centers are now scaling up from 10G all the way up to 100G data rates.

How is Aquantia addressing those trends?

To enable the hyperscale data center we announced our QuantumStream technology – a new class of high-performance connectivity which has the potential to revolutionize next-generation hyperscale data centers. QuantumStream delivers 100Gbps bandwidth all-electrical technology and achieves ultra-low latency in networking applications. It’s a significant increase in bandwidth performance over a single lane of copper which was previously believed to be solely in the realm of far more expensive optical techniques. 

What are some of the important recent developments in enterprise computing and networking?

We are also seeing the advent of new WLAN standards, such as 802.11ac, and 802.11ax, that are pushing the amount of traffic aggregated inside those WLAN access points to more than 1Gbps on the wired infrastructure. For the first time, wireless rates exceed the rates available over traditional Gigabit Ethernet.

Aquantia foresaw these trends early on and pioneered a brand-new communication technique to enable Multi-Gig data transfer of up to 5 times faster than the legacy Gigabit Ethernet over the existing copper cabling infrastructure. This in turn is enabling the whole enterprise ecosystem to deliver the new Wi-Fi capabilities of 802.11ac/ax for optimal end user experience.

Finally, we are seeing the demand for Multi-Gig solutions in the enterprise, SMB/SoHo and home PCs, NAS boxes or in carrier equipment. Aquantia has started addressing that need with our AQtion product line of controllers and network interface cards.

You also offer AQrate and helped launch the NBASE-T Alliance. Tell us about all that.

To respond to the bandwidth demand, Aquantia developed AQrate, a unique technology capable of increasing network speeds to 5 and 2.5 Gbps at lengths up to 100m on existing Cat 5e/Cat 6 cables. Aquantia subsequently co-founded the NBASE-T Alliance with Cisco (News - Alert) and other major players to promote the Multi-Gigabit technology in the industry. It also played a key role in pushing the Multi-Gigabit technology through the standardization process within IEEE (News - Alert).

In September 2016, IEEE officially approved IEEE 802.3bz as a standard, a record timeframe of less than two years from proposal to approval. Aquantia then developed a Multi-Gig controller called AQtion, which coupled with its AQrate Multi-Gig PHY, provides a solution for the PC OEMs to deliver Multi-Gig Ethernet capabilities to workstations, gaming PCs, and other high-performance PC platforms.

What is Aquantia’s go-to-market strategy?

Aquantia has a global sales organization – with direct sales offices close to our largest customers in North America and Asia. We also have several distributors who make our full line of products available worldwide.

Who are Aquantia’s key distribution partners?

Arrow, WPI, Lestina, Uniquest, Midoriya, Ismosys, and Norcomp are distribution partners in various parts of the world.

How does Aquantia differentiate its offerings from competitors?

Our customers make their buying decisions based on five criteria:

  • Market Vision – Aquantia pioneered a new Multi-Gig protocol, which is now the IEEE 802.3bz standard, and we developed the world’s only Multi-Gig integrated controller for client PCs.
  • Power – Our Mixed-Mode Signal Processing (MMSP) and Multi-Core Signal Processor (News - Alert) (MCSP) architecture deliver optimized power solutions.
  • Performance – Aquantia’s DSP techniques and algorithms yield optimized performance and configurability.
  • Footprint -– Our constant focus on footprint has delivered the world’s densest, Multi-Gig BASE-T solutions for Ethernet switches, WLAN APs, and client PCs.
  • Roadmap – Strong R&D investment yields a broad and deep product roadmap spanning several market applications, over multiple process generations.

What’s next for Aquantia?

Looking to the future, Aquantia is working to address Multi-Gig upgrade cycles across existing and new markets. Every year, more than a billion ports of Ethernet ship into a variety of platforms. These platforms have started to convert from outdated Gigabit Ethernet to Multi-Gigabit Ethernet as the insatiable demand for bandwidth and data continues to grow.

Never hesitating to question the status quo, Aquantia is leading the Multi-Gig revolution.

Edited by Erik Linask