Arista claims latency lead with new data center switch

Arista says its new 24-port data center switch has latency under half a microsecond.

Arista Networks this week unveiled a data center switch boasting sub-500-nanosecond latency for financial market trading applications.

The Arista 7124SX is a wire-speed, 24-port, one-rack-unit Layer 2/3 switch supporting 100Mbps, Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet SFP+ optics and cables. It can serve as a leaf or access top-of-rack 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch in data centers, Arista says.  

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The 7124SX lacks uplink ports, but any number of those 24 ports can be used as uplinks, Arista says.

Arista also rolled out a feature for the switch called Latency Analyzer (LANZ). LANZ allows 7124SX users to monitor and analyze network latency and, with an optional storage feature, store packet captures and LANZ network latency data.

The 7124SX comes at a time of increasing competition in low-latency data center switching, especially for financial market trading environments. Juniper just announced its QFX3500 switch, the first piece of its Project Stratus-based QFabric line for flattening data center and cloud infrastructures.

Cisco is expected to soon announce the Nexus 3000, a low-latency, high-density 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch specifically designed for market trading. Cisco is also said to be developing a fabric line to compete with Juniper’s QFabric, under the code-name “Jawbreaker.”

But Arista, for now, may have them beat on latency and features like LANZ. While sporting half the ports of its own 7148SX or Juniper’s QFX3500, The 7124SX is a latency leader, says Mike Spanbauer, principal analyst for enterprise networking and data center technology at Current Analysis.

“If speed is the priority and the applications are latency sensitive – nothing else exists as fast in a top-of-rack device,” Spanbauer says.  “The next fastest product would be Juniper’s recently announced switch for the QFabric – the QFX3500 – which possesses just over 1 microsecond performance capabilities through the box (a bit over two times the Arista stated performance), followed closely by Brocade’s VDX (1.5 microseconds) and then Cisco’s Nexus 5548 (about 2.2 microseconds).”

AN UPDATE FROM SPANBAUER: "A quick correction to the performance quote for the Brocade VDX switch is that it is, in fact, 600ns vs. the 1.2us above. Additionally, I was not able to locate the latency performance for the HP product when I wrote the compares, but have since found the metric that the A5820 provides for 1.2us latency port-to-port as well."

LANZ is another feature that is unique to Arista and may be applicable to other functions – like security, Spanbauer says.

“Arista portrays it as a transaction-tuning function, where microseconds matter,” Spanbauer says.  “The ability to graph latency by port and by queue offers network administrators insights they did not have historically.

“The most intriguing application… is the ability to log all queue and access attempts in real time at 10G,” he says. “Consider the security implications… if you can analyze this in real time.”

Real-time is Arista’s forte. The company has 700 customers now for its low-latency switches, which debuted in 2007. Financial market trading is a sweet spot for the company, and it is considered one of the leading switch vendors, along with Juniper and Cisco, in that niche.

The 7124SX is available now and pricing starts at $12,995.

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