• United States
by David Newman, Network World Lab Alliance

Review: Foundry Networks’ Big Iron MG8

Mar 10, 20042 mins
Network SwitchesNetworking

* Review of Big Iron MG8

In an exclusive Network World lab test, Foundry Networks’ BigIron MG8 switch proved to be one of only two enterprise backbone switches to deliver wire-rate throughput on all interfaces of its 10G Ethernet  line cards. Plus it’s the only one to do so with minimal delay and jitter.

The MG8, which includes not only 10G Ethernet interfaces but also a new 40-port Gigabit Ethernet blade, also demonstrated first-rate, quality-of-service (QoS ) enforcement capabilities.

However, while the MG8 lives up to its “Mucho Grande” moniker in terms of raw horsepower and traffic control, the late beta version Foundry supplied of its new 40-port Gigabit Ethernet line card has a few performance kinks. More seriously, in our failover tests while the MG8 rerouted one flow very fast, recovery times might increase along with flow counts.

The vendor says a firmware upgrade due next month will improve performance on its 40-port card. Foundry also says a larger switch/router – the NetIron 40G – will address the failover issue. Late next month we plan to test the upgraded 40-port card and the 40G chassis.

We used Spirent’s SmartBits to measure the MG8’s throughput and delay – the same way we’ve tested 10G switches in the past – in four configurations:

* A pure 10G Ethernet setup with four interfaces.

* Between groups of Gigabit Ethernet interfaces exchanging traffic across a 10G Ethernet backbone.

* Within the 40-port Gigabit Ethernet line card.

* Between the 40-port card and four 10G Ethernet interfaces.

Foundry’s best results came during the pure 10G Ethernet tests. The four-port 10G Ethernet module handled small, midsize and large frames at full 10-Gigabit line rate with zero loss.

The MG8 also delivered line-rate performance in our basic backbone test. This configuration tests 10G Ethernet the way it’s most likely to be used – as an aggregation technology for multiple Gigabit Ethernet links.

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