Force10 throws hat into 40G Ethernet ring

Data center switch, module designed for aggregation of 10G links

Force10 Tuesday will make good on its earlier promise to provide "end-to-end" 40Gbps Ethernet capabilities by unveiling a data center switch and switch module that support the new high-speed standard.

The company rolled out a top-of-rack switch with 48 10G ports and 40G uplinks; and a module for its core ExaScale switch that sports six 40G ports, two of which run at line-rate.

100G Ethernet: Bridge to Terabit Ethernet  

The 40G additions to the Force10 portfolio are intended to address 10G aggregation requirements as users deploy more 10G ports and switches in their data centers for server access. Most of those connections are now Gigabit Ethernet but 10G is expected to soon become the predominant server-to-switch connection, especially when 10G comes integrated on server motherboards next year.

Dell'Oro Group notes that users are migrating servers from multiple Gigabit Ethernet connections to dual 10G connections for high-capacity, lower latency, and the ability to ultimately converge FibreChannel storage traffic onto an Ethernet fabric. Dell'Oro says this portends the most significant network upgrade ever in the data center and has already seen 10G revenue almost double year-over-tear in Q2, to almost 25% of the overall $20 billion Ethernet switching market expected in 2010.

In terms of port shipments, Dell'Oro anticipates that those from "purpose-built" 10G top-of-rack switches will increase from 325,000 ports in 2009 to 4.5 million by 2012.

Aiming to get a big piece of that, Force10 rolled out the S4810, a 1RU top-of-rack switch that features 48 dual-speed 1/10G SFP+ ports as well as four QSFP+ 40G Ethernet uplinks. The switch supports 1.28Tbps of non-blocking capacity, wire-speed performance across all 48 ports and latency of 650 nanoseconds. The 40G ports can be split into four 10G SFP+ ports using optical break-out cables, Force10 says, enabling the switch to support 64 10G interfaces.

It also features redundant power supplies, and front-to-back and back-to-front airflow. Future enhancements will include support for the IEEE's Data Center Bridging standards for lossless Ethernet switching; and Force10's VirtualScale stacking technology with 10G and 40G ports, which will allow the switch to support multiple active paths for scale, redundancy, lower latency and enhanced performance.

Right now, though, those 40G uplinks on the 4810 will allow the switch to connect to a Force10 chassis-based ExaScale switch in the data center outfitted with Force10's new oversubscribed six-port QSFP+/CFP 40 GbE line card for the company's flagship ExaScale virtualized core switch/router. Two of the card's six ports run at line-rate, four can be used at a time, and the module enables the ExaScale switch to support up to 56 40G ports in a single, half-rack chassis -- 28 of which are line-rate, Force10 says.

If three or four ports are used, the card is oversubscribed, Force10 says. The two line-rate ports support CFP connectors while the other four are QSFP+, the company says. The card supports ExaScale's Layer 2 switching, IPv4/6 routing and MPLS Labe Switch Router capabilities, Force10 says.

Force10's closest competitor for the 4810 top-of-rack switch is Blade Network Technologies, which unveiled the 1.2Tbps G8264 two weeks ago. Extreme also has 40G uplinks on its Summit X650 but that only support 24 10G ports.

Cisco, Juniper, Brocade and Arista have yet to announce 40G Ethernet products for data centers, even though Cisco, Juniper and Brocade have announced 100G Ethernet routers and router interfaces, mostly for service provider networks.

The S4810 will begin shipping to customers by the end of this quarter. The 40G line card for the ExaScale virtualized core switch/router will ship to customers in the first half of 2011. Force10 did not disclose pricing.

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