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Cisco/Insieme 40G pricing comes in close to that of 10G

Spin-in developed transceiver for 30% premium over 10G; leaf, spine switches mix merchant, custom ASICs; ACI fabric based on VXLAN

By Jim Duffy on Fri, 10/18/13 - 1:59pm.

As the November 6 launch date gets closer, more details are emerging on Cisco/Insieme's Nexus 9000 and Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) introduction. Yes, merchant silicon will play a key role but the ACI fabric will be powered by a custom Insieme ASIC, sources say.

Merchant silicon will be used for basic Layer 2 switching, Layer 3 routing and VXLAN overlay, while the Insieme ASIC will be used for buffering, virtual output queuing and VXLAN routing. ACI will be founded on VXLAN, with Insieme hooks in the VXLAN header for additional application identification and traffic classification. Within each VXLAN, traffic can be classified and policies applied to millions of applications, sources say.  

ACI is based on a VXLAN flooding and learning underlay. The fabric will take in Layer 2 frames at the edge, send it across the spine as a VXLAN, and terminate it at the destination edge as a Layer 2 frame again.

[NO MAS: Cisco: We have no plans for "deep integration" with VMware's NSX]

The Nexus 9000 switches will include both modular spine and fixed-configuration leaf devices that run in either standalone mode - vanilla Layer2/3 based on Broadcom's Trident II silicon -- or ACI mode. The modular switches are the eight-slot Nexus 9508, and the four-slot 9504 and 16-slot 9516.  

Line cards for these switches include 36x40G with Broadcom silicon for non-ACI standalone applications; 36x40G, 48x10G SFP+ and 4x40G, and 48x1/10GBase-T and 4x40G with a mix of Broadcom and Insieme silicon for standalone or ACI fabric leaf applications; and 36x40G wire-rate cards with Insieme-only chips for Layer 3-only ACI fabric spine applications.

The fixed configuration switches are the Nexus 9396PQ and 93128TX. The 9396PQ is a 2RU, 48-port 10G SFP+ switch that includes a 12-port 40G uplink module, and is designed for standalone or ACI leaf use. The 93128TX is a 3RU, 96-port 1/10GBase-T switch with a 12-port 40G uplink module also intended for standalone or ACI leaf use.

Insieme also developed a 40G transceiver designed to bring 40G pricing down to just 30% above 10G pricing, sources said. This is intended to make the Cisco/Insieme switches price competitive with Arista Networks' gear. Currently, 40G pricing is roughly 4X 10G pricing, and 2012 ASPs on 10G SFP+ were $1,229 for modular ports and $335 for purpose built ports, according to Dell'Oro Group.

A six-port 40G uplink module for the 9300 line may come after first customer ship, sources say, as well as 96-port SFP and 48-port 10GBase-T varieties. Also in the pipeline might be a fixed configuration fabric spine switch for smaller environments, and a next-generation Unified Computing System (UCS) fabric interconnect with VM-FEX, FibreChannel and FibreChannel-over-Ethernet based on the Insieme developments, sources say.

Users looking to migrate from standalone to ACI mode might be disrupted, sources say. It could require recabling, deploying new spine switches, rebooting all leaves with new software, and reapplying the network configuration, they say.