Arista launches Universal Leaf Platform

Last month, Arista Networks put the core router market in the crosshairs with it’s Universal Spine ( system.  This week Arista complimented this by announcing a Universal Leaf network platform powered by its new 7280R switch series. 

The products leverage the Broadcom Jericho chipset which is optimized for 100 Gig-E, deep buffers and routing.  Arista has been one of the more aggressive vendors with respect to using a leaf-spine architecture to be the backbone of a modern data center, so it makes sense that it would try and push the evolution of both the leaf and spines.

The concept behind the Universal Leaf is fairly simple – build a switch that can be a common leaf for any use case.  The leaf switch is where things connect into the network making the requirements somewhat complex.  A leaf needs to offer high availability, telemetry, dynamic and deep buffering, and different routing options,  just to name a few requirements.  Most leaf switches are purpose built to be good at one or two of these things, meaning customers must buy a wide variety of leaf switches. 

For example, the switch used to connect to IP storage is different than the one used to connect to the DMZ, which is also different, the one used for connectivity to digital media.  What if there were a way of having a single leaf switch that could meet the demands of whatever is thrown at it?  That’s the concept behind Arista’s Universal Leaf - a single switch series that can handle routing, general computing, IP storage and digital media. 

While I gave credit earlier to the Jericho chip, that’s not the real secret sauce behind the 7208R series.  Broadcom provides the silicon but Arista’s highly resilient Linux based operating EOS and CloudVision management software are what enable the company to handle demanding workloads at scale and maintain performance.

For customers, Universal Leaf offers many benefits of having a single product series across all leaf cases including consistency of features, simplified sparing, uniform architectures and common certification.  Sparing itself can often add 20% - 30% to the cost of running a network.  A single product family can cut that significantly depending on how many vendors would have been used with more of a point product approach.

There are four products in the series:

  • 7280TR-48C6 - 48 10Gig-T / 6 QSFP100, 2.16Tbps, 10/25/40/50/100GbE Mode, 4GB buffer
  • 7280SR-48C6 - 48 SFP+ / 6 QSFP100, 2.16Tbps, 10/25/40/50/100GbE Mode, 4GB buffer
  • 7280QR-C36 - 24 QSFP+ / 12 QSFP100 ports, 4.32Tbps, 10/25/40/50/100GbE Mode, 8GB buffer
  • 7280CR-48 - 48 QSFP100 / 8 QSFP+ ports, 10.24Tbps, 10/25/40/50/100GbE Mode, 32GB buffer

All the products have consistent features including the following

  • Flexible Port Configurations for 10G to 100G
  • Lossless Architecture: Deep Buffer with Virtual Output Queuing (VoQ)
  • Consistent Programmable and Feature Rich: Single EOS image
  • High Performance: Scalable Packet Processing
  • Innovation: FlexRoute Engine Large Tables

What’s interesting about both Universal Spine and Leaf is that it moves Arista out of the data center and into other markets.  Universal Spine addressed the core router market.  Universal Leaf enables Arista to target a number of new markets including storage networks, general compute workloads, hyperconvergence, digital media, routing and other functions. 

The FlexRoute feature enables Arista’s products to hold well over 1 million IPv4 and IPv6 routes, meaning it could take the place of an edge Internet router.  The price point of the Arista switch is less than one-tenth of a more traditional edge router, making it a compelling alternative.  It’s important to understand that routers are very sophisticated devices built using custom ASICs and an Arista switch can’t replace them in all use cases.  However, for functions like Internet peering and Data center interconnectivity, the Arista products are worth looking at.

All of the 7280R systems are shipping now and are being offered at a price comparable to the 7280SE series. 


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