Extreme, Force10 address growing 10G use in data centers

Extreme Networks and Force10 this week are expected to unveil new modules for existing switches that bulk up performance and density for expanding data center operations.

Watch a slideshow of these products.

Extreme is rolling out switch fabric and port modules for its BlackDiamond 8800 chassis that effectively make it into a new switch – which Extreme calls the BlackDiamond 8900. Force10 is unveiling a 90-port 10/100/1000Base-T card for its ExaScale switch to boost density to over 1,000 Gigabit Ethernet ports per rack.

Read a summary of more 10G Ethernet switches being announced this week

The announcements address the growing use of 10 Gigabit Ethernet in data centers to accommodate increasing computational and storage density in data centers brought on by application growth, increasing use of blade servers and large-scale virtualization. Users are deploying 10G Ethernet to aggregate hundreds of Gigabit Ethernet server connections and even linking 10G Ethernet server NICs into the data center switching fabric.

The Extreme modules include a switch fabric cards that provides up to 128G bps per slot on the 8900, Extreme says. They also include a 24-port 10G Ethernet module and a 96-port Gigabit Ethernet card.

The new boards are designed to scale the 8900 to 582 10G Ethernet ports per rack while using the same chassis customers already have to lower upgrade costs. Extreme claims that it is now the leader in per slot switching capacity and 10G port density per rack with the 8900 blades, outdistancing Cisco’s Nexus 7000, Brocade’s BigIron RX-16, Force10’s ExaScale E-series – which was just announced at 100Gbps per slot – and Juniper’s EX8200.

Extreme also says the modules use a maximum of 2 watts per Gigabit Ethernet and 10 watts per 10G Ethernet port, which helps lower the total cost of ownership of the products.

“When Cisco came out with the Nexus 7000, a lot of customers are on the (Cisco) Catalyst 6500. Now they’re going to have to replace a working piece of equipment with this new (switch),” says analyst Bill Terrill of Current Analysis. “What Extreme has done is gone ahead and said we are compatible with the chassis, you can keep using existing blades, and if you need higher performance…they have an ongoing extension.”

The 8900 switch fabric card and 96-port Gigabit Ethernet module cost $25,000 apiece. The 24-port 10G Ethernet module costs $45,000. They will all be available later this quarter.

Force10’s 90-port 10/100/1000Base-T line card for its ExaScale E-Series 600 and 1200 switches delivers total non-blocking throughput of more than one billion packets per second and reduces power consumption up to 70% per port over competitive offerings, Force10 says.

The card allows the ExaScale switch to support up to 1,260 10/100/1000Base-T ports in a single chassis, or 630 in a half-rack configuration. Pricing starts at $60,000 and it will be available in June.

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