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Force10 taking data centers into zettabyte era

Force10 first with 40/100G density for data centers

By , Network World
April 26, 2011 11:00 AM ET
Force10's Z9000 distributed core switch

Network World - Force10 Networks this week will unveil data center core and top-of-rack switches that mark the first offering of high-density 40/100G Ethernet among the major switch vendors.

The switches are designed to take data center customers into the zettabyte era, according to Force10. The company's current generation high-end core offerings, the E-Series, are tuned to exabyte-scale networks. (An exabyte is 1 million terabytes, or 1 billion gigabytes, whereas a zettabyte is 1,000 exabytes.)

For the core, Force10 is rolling out the Z-Series ZettaScale line of switches, which are designed to offer users a choice between a centralized and a distributed core network.

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For the centralized core, Force10's Z9512 chassis-based switch delivers 400Gbps per slot of switching capacity in a 12-slot, half-rack chassis. It offers 480 line-rate, non-blocking 10G Ethernet ports -- leapfrogging Arista Networks' AN 7500 switch, the previous wire-rate 10G density leader at 384 ports -- and also offers 96 line-rate, non-blocking 40G and 48 line-rate, non-blocking 100G Ethernet ports.

This makes Force10 the only major switching vendor to have announced substantial 40/100G Ethernet densities on a switch versus a small port count expansion uplink module, which Extreme, Alcatel-Lucent and others, including Force10, have already announced.

The Z9512 also features a 9.6Tbps backplane, sub-5 microsecond latency and an 8-Gigabit packet buffer for each of its 12 line cards. Future line cards will support 800 Gigabits per slot, Force10 says.

The switch is designed for aggregation of flat Layer 2 topologies, or aggregation of hierarchical Layer 3 topologies as well as for multi-service deployments incorporating Gigabit Ethernet, 10G, 40G and 100G Ethernet.

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Force10's Z9000 distributed switch is designed for "containerized" data center cores, where cloud data centers are geographically distributed. The Z9000 sports 32 40G Ethernet ports or 128 10G Ethernet ports into a 2 RU form factor. It features a 2.5 terabit full-duplex backplane capacity, scales from 2 to 160 terabits in a distributed core architecture, and features 3 microsecond latency.

At 800 watts, the Z9000 consumes 1/20 as much power as competitive products, Force10 says. And in addition to containerized data center cores, the Z9000 is also targeted at end-of-row applications in the data center, Force10 says.

Any of the Z9000 switches can be taken out of service without bringing down the core network, Force10 says. The more switches in the distributed architecture, the lower the impact of any one switch going offline, the company claims.

Both new core switches are "hardware ready" for the IEEE's Data Center Bridging and the IETF's Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL) standards (See "Industry split on data center network standards"). These standards are designed for lossless Ethernet switching and shortest path multihop routing, respectively, in data center networks.

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