How we tested 3Com's switch

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We assessed the 3Com S7900E/H3C S7500E in six areas: performance with layer-2 traffic, layer-3 routed IPv4 traffic, and IPv4 multicast traffic; features; power consumption; and manageability and usability. We originally planned to include a seventh category of tests, layer-2 performance across two 10Gigabit Etheret ports, but time constraints prevented us from completing those benchmarks.

For all tests, we configured the 3Com/H3C switch to use 288 gigabit Ethernet ports with redundant switching/routing engines and power supplies. 3Com supplied line cards that used pluggable copper transceivers.

In the performance tests, we configured Spirent TestCenter to offer 64-, 256-, 1518- and 9216-byte frames to each of 288 gigabit Ethernet switch ports in a fully meshed pattern to determine throughput and latency. We measured latency at line rate. The duration for all tests was 300 seconds per iteration.

In the layer-2 unicast tests, we tested with 259,200 unique MAC addresses, or 900 addresses per port. All addresses were in the same VLAN, and we verified that address learning was complete before offering test traffic.

In the layer-3 unicast tests, we brought up a different OSPF routing adjacency on each port, for a total of 288 adjacencies, all in area 0, and advertised 201,600 interarea (type-3) networks to the 3Com device. We verified that the 3Com device correctly populated its routing table before offering test traffic.

In the multicast test, we configured 48 Spirent TestCenter ports to act as multicast transmitters to 80 groups. We also configured the 3Com/H3C device to join all IGMPv3 groups on each of 240 other ports. Spirent TestCenter then offered IPv4 multicast traffic to the "source" ports, which the 3Com/H3C switch then replicated to all 240 subscriber ports. We measured multicast forwarding rates and latency at each of the egress ports.

We measured power using a Fluke 335 True RMS clamp meter and an APC metered power strip. We took three measurements: When the switch was idle (with all ports connected); with fully-meshed flows of 64-byte frames on all ports, as in the layer-3 unicast tests; and again with the same traffic with an IP option set in each packet.

We assessed features, manageability and usability in conversations with 3Com about the 3Com/H3C switch; in using the switch during testing and in comparing the switch with competing products.

A more detailed version of this methodology is available here.

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