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Force10 raises the 10G bar, again

New line cards and management modules double Gig and 10G port counts, total capacity.

By Phil Hochmuth, Network World
September 13, 2004 12:06 AM ET

Network World - Force10 Networks this week is expected to refresh its 10G switch product line, doubling the switching capacity and port densities on all its chassis.

The new products are aimed at businesses or research centers that run high-end data center networks with hundreds of servers attached via Gigabit or 10G Ethernet. The upgraded management modules and line cards for Force10's switches will pack up to 672G or 56 10G Ethernet ports into a chassis that supports over a terabit and a half of total capacity, the vendor says.

The upgrades include new management and port modules for Force10's E1200 switch chassis, which has 12 slots for port modules and two slots for redundant management modules. The six-slot E600 and three-port E300 chassis also are being upgraded.

Compared with its first-generation E-series predecessor, each respective device now supports double the backplane speed (or total Gigabit per second of bandwidth each device can move).

The San Diego Supercomputing Center (SDSC) can use that much bandwidth. The center is part of the Teragrid project - a supercomputing project that links research data centers across the country into one grid-computing infrastructure.

Clusters in the Teragrid hosted at SDSC consist of hundreds of servers connected via Gigabit Ethernet to a single E1200, with up to 26 10G Ethernet ports linking the switch to other switches or to 10G servers also in the grid.

SDSC uses 10G switches from Cisco, Foundry and Force10. Boxes from Cisco and Foundry Networks had caught up to Force10's over the last year, says Nathaniel Mendoza, a network technician at SDSC. He says the new Force10 line cards again put the start-up ahead of the more established players.

"We'll be adding a ton of capacity, so having a lot of ports that are line-rate is key," Mendoza says. He says the center plans to consolidate some clusters from multiple switches onto a single E1200 with over 600 nodes. "You can't do that with any other switches I've seen."

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